Activities For Dogs After Knee Surgery

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Introduction

It is hard to watch your dog recovering from any type of surgery. Knee surgery is especially hard because their mobility is limited while they are recovering and there is usually some type of physical therapy needed to keep their knee from becoming too weak or tight from nonuse. There are activities that you can do at home to help your dog keep from becoming overly bored while they are recovering. Be sure to consult your veterinarian prior to doing any activity with your dog following knee surgery.

Hydrotherapy

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
30 min
Items needed
Life Vest (optional)
Collar
Pool or bathtub
Activity description

Hydrotherapy is a great way to work your dog’s knee after surgery without bearing weight on the joint. Do not start hydrotherapy until any stitches or staples have been removed and your veterinarian has given permission. Hydrotherapy can basically be done anywhere there is a body of water including a pool, unheated hot tub, lake or even bathtub. If you do not have to sign up at an actual pet rehabilitation facility and can perform hydrotherapy at home, it is cheap. A pet rehabilitation center will cost much more. A life vest will be needed if you are using a pool or larger body of water; you probably do not need a life vest for a bathtub or unheated hot tub. Do not leave your dog unattended during a hydrotherapy session. 

Step
1
Introduce the vest
Prior to putting your dog into the water; you will need to introduce the life vest. Some dogs will easily accept wearing a life vest; there will be other dogs that will not want to wear the vest. Your dog should wear the life vest off and on for a few days prior to going into the water so they are comfortable with wearing the bulky vest.
Step
2
Introduce the water
Not all dogs are natural born swimmers. Some will even be a little fearful of water. Take it slow when introducing them to the water and be sure to fully support their body as they enter the water. If you notice they are beginning to panic, stop and remove them from the water. A panic attack can cause them to flail and possibly harm their knee further. Once they have accepted being in the water, you can work with them to swim and work the repaired knee.
Step
3
Exercise
Since your dog is recovering from knee surgery, make sure they are not over-extending their knee while they are swimming. Allow them to swim for five to ten minute intervals and then they need to rest. Do not allow them to swim more than 30 minutes total. After they finish their hydrotherapy session, make sure your dog rests for a time before they are allowed to get up and walk around.
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Canine Puzzles

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Any Day
Cheap
Normal
30 min
Items needed
Treats
Puzzles
Activity description

There are numerous puzzles that are available on the market to keep dogs entertained. If you happen to be crafty, you can make your own puzzles for your dog. Some people even simply use a muffin tin, tennis balls and treats to keep them entertained and boredom at bay. As your dog recovers from knee surgery, they will be fighting boredom as their normal activities have to be curtailed while they recover. Most canine puzzles are cheap or moderately priced and range from easy to solve to difficult. Your dog’s skill level will improve as they work with puzzles daily during their recovery time. 

Step
1
Introduce the treats
There are some treats that your dog will like much better than others. In order for them to be successful at puzzles, they must really want that treat. Therefore, you may need to purchase a few different kinds to see which one they like best. Make sure the treat you choose has a strong smell that attracts them and makes them want to find where it was hidden.
Step
2
Demonstrate the fun
When you first pull the puzzle out of its package it is a good idea to show your dog how it works. If you have made your own puzzle, you will also want to give them a demonstration so they know what it is. While they may not remember exactly how the puzzle works, they will understand that there are special treats hidden inside that they need to find.
Step
3
Fill the puzzle
To keep your dog from finding the treats too quickly, remove your dog from the room as you fill the puzzle with the treats. This way if you are using an easy puzzle to start, they will not know exactly where the treats were put and have to actually think and work their way through the puzzle to find the reward. As the puzzles increase in difficulty, you may want to switch the treats to something else so they do not get bored with having to find the same treat.
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Short Walks

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Sunny Day
Free
Easy
15 min
Items needed
Leash
Collar
Activity description

Taking your dog for long walks through the neighborhood is an excellent way for both of you to get your daily exercise. However, after your dog has gone through knee surgery it is a good idea to curtail this activity until your veterinarian gives your dog the go ahead to resume all normal activities. Even then, walks should be kept short in the beginning and then lengthened as your dog’s knee strengthens after surgery. Be aware of your dog’s needs and only take short walks that will not tire them easily and allows them to get a little exercise. Generally, 10 to 15 minute walks will be more than plenty and in some cases, you may want to start with an easy five minute walk to make sure they are ready. 

Step
1
Consult your veterinarian
Knee surgery can put your dog out of commission for a few weeks or even longer and walking on certain surfaces such as asphalt, rock or sand may put too much stress on the repaired knee. Talk with your veterinarian before taking your dog for a walk post-surgery. Resuming normal activities too quickly can cause more damage to the knee.
Step
2
Prepare for the walk
While you might not have thought much about taking a walk with your dog before their surgery, now you need to plan and prepare before heading out the door with your newly mended pooch. You should plan your route and try to stay on level ground that is easier on their knee, such as grass or dirt. Do not go far so the knee is not stressed and be prepared to stop for breaks throughout the walk.
Step
3
Enjoy the outing
Because your dog may be feeling a little out of sorts at having to be reined in for short walks to start, be sure to make it a fun walk. Bring along some treats and maybe a favorite toy so when they are resting they can play and have fun. Do not bring a ball or toy that is used for a game of fetch since this activity is probably not allowed until they have fully recovered.
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More Fun Ideas...

Canine Massage

Canine massage can easily be done even immediately following knee surgery. This is an activity that relaxes your dog, especially following the stress of going through surgery. Canine massage is a free activity that can be done in any weather since you will most likely be inside. When massaging your dog, be sure to avoid the knee that was operated on so you do not cause pain to your dog. 

Hide and Seek

Most dogs recovering from knee surgery will be confined to a small space for a time while they heal. Once they are allowed to be up and moving, they will want to resume their normal activities but you will have to keep them from re-injuring the knee or causing more damage by doing too much too soon. A game of hide and seek is a way to keep them from overdoing it and give them bonding time with you. Be sure to give them plenty of praise and a reward when they successfully find either you or the hidden object.

Conclusion

While it can be frightening to have your dog go into surgery, it can also be a time for you to strengthen the bond between you as they heal from their operation. Bonding will come from doing different activities together that will help them heal and give you the opportunity to try new things. Before starting any activity with your dog that has had knee surgery be sure to talk with your veterinarian regarding their limitations and the recovery process.