In my post ‘Why Crate Rest Matters for IVDD‘, I talked about why crate rest is so important for your dog’s recovery. Now that we understand why it is so important, let’s talk about how to make the best out of a tough situation. 8 weeks is a long time to be cooped up in a cage. As much as we would like to tell our dogs that it is for their own good, we just can’t. So it’s up to you to make them feel as comfortable and content as possible. Depending on your dog, this may be no easy feat. Here are some tips that will help you get through this period with as little stress as possible.
Tip#1 Make your dog feel included.
If your dog is anything like mine, he/she just wants to be around you all the time. They may get sad or stressed out if they are stuck in a crate in a separate room than you. Try to keep them in the same room that you are spending time in. You can either carry the crate, or keep a separate crate in each main room to make it a little easier. Talk to them, and just keep them near you so they can feel comforted. You don’t want them freaking out in there!
Tip#2 Consider Buying a Pet Stroller or Wagon
It can be a little difficult getting your dog in and out of the crate. You don’t want to be moving them around too much. One solution is to purchase a pet stroller or folding wagon to roll them around the house. Just make sure that there is no way that they could jump out! Strollers and wagons are a great way to move them about the house with ease. They also work great for taking your dog outside or on walks while they are still on crate rest. Though, I would wait until their pain has gone away completely before taking them on a walk in the stroller.
Tip#3 Keep Their Mind Occupied
Being confined for so long is sure to make anyone a bit stir crazy. Giving them toys to rip apart is not a good idea when you’re restricting their movement. Look for some puzzle games for dogs to stimulate their mind. Maybe teach them a trick like to bark on command or touch their nose to your hand, or give them a kong toy filled with peanut butter.
Tip #4 Make it Comfortable
Obviously it is important to keep your dog comfortable during their crate rest. It is especially important if your dog is paralyzed. If they are paralyzed and in pain they may be reluctant or unable to reposition themselves every so often. Pay attention to your dog’s position. If they aren’t alternating what side they are lying on, you need to do that for them. This is because if they stay in the same position for too long they can start to get bed sores. So every few hours they should be alternating sides. Most dogs will be able to do this on their own unless they are paralyzed and in pain. When my dog, Cali, was on crate rest she was reluctant to move at all for the first week or so. I had to make sure to flip her to her other side every few hours. Once her pain level went down she did this just fine on her own. Another way to help prevent pressure sores is to buy your dog an orthopedic bed. This will help relieve pressure from their bones and joints, and at the same time support their back and help keep it aligned.
Tip#5 Figure Out A Bathroom Routine
Putting your dog on a bathroom schedule will help minimize the chance of accidents in the crate. It will also help to prevent UTIs. Taking them out to potty every few hours or after eating will definitely help with that. You should carry them outside, and then carry them back in when they’re done. Always keep them on a leash with a harness when they are out of the crate so they can not take off or wander around. If they are having trouble using their legs you can place a sling under their belly to help hold them up. If your dog is incontinent you will need to learn to express their bladder. Your vet can show you the proper way to do this. It takes a bit of practice, but you will be a pro in no time. You may prefer to express your dog inside on a pee pad to avoid any leaking when you pick them up. A full bladder will leak if you put any pressure on it. Diapers are also a huge life saver for incontinence. You can purchase re-usable dog diapers, or just use regular baby diapers.
Tip #6 Keep Your Dog Clean
If your dog does have an accident, or is incontinent, it is very important to keep your dog clean. Give them regular baths and keep wet wipes handy. If urine sits on the skin it will cause urine scald. You definitely don’t want this, so make sure that you keep your dog clean and dry.
Tip#7 Ask Your Vet What Exercises You Can Do
If your dog can’t move it’s legs you want to make sure that they don’t get stiff. You can do passive range of motion stretches to keep them limber, but only after you have gotten the OK from your vet. Massaging your dog’s legs is a good way to improve circulation. It also gives them a much needed break from being in the crate.
Tip#8 Let Them Out Every Now and Then
Take some time here and there to let them be out of the crate, but only when you can be right there with them. Never walk away from them or give them a chance to take off, even for a second. As long as they are under your strict supervision it is ok to let them hang out with you outside of their crate. Sometimes they just need to be able to cuddle you.
Tip#9 Give Them A Quiet Environment
This is not a time for parties or anything like that. You don’t want to do anything that is going to get your dog worked up. Even a knock at the door or a doorbell could make your dog jump up. Let your friends know not to disturb you at your home and consider putting a note on your door to let people know.
Tip#10 Consider Giving Your Dog CBD Oil
CBD oil has amazing anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps with anxiety and will keep your dog calm and comfortable. When my dog was on crate rest she was still uncomfortable, even with all of the pain medication she was on. When I gave her CBD oil it made a huge difference. She stopped panting and trembling and was able to rest. I highly recommend it.
Tip#11 If All Else Fails Get Something From Your Vet
As a last resort you can ask your vet for a sedative or anxiety medication. This can help keep your dog calm. I would use this as a last option, since your dog will already likely be on a few medications. But if your dog is really stressed out. Talk to your vet and see if there is anything they can give you to help your dog relax.
So those are my tips for making the best out of crate rest. I hope this helps! Never give up hope and remember, you’ve got this!