Few things are more stressful than picking your pet up after surgery and coming home only to find out that your home is not adequately prepared. Here are several very simple things that you can do to make your pet, and yourself, more comfortable when they come home:
Create a safe zone for your pet to recover in – Your pet didn’t do anything wrong, and we don’t want them to feel like they are being punished by being secluded. Your pet is allowed to be near the family during day to day activity, but we need to make sure that they are on a flat, non-slip surface, without furniture that they can jump on. Example of an appropriate environment is a gated off (gate that they cannot attempt to jump over) area within the living room, where there is carpet or other forms of traction (like yoga mats) and no furniture.
Make sure that they always have traction – Your pet is going through a lot, so roll out the red carpet by laying down yoga mats or long runner rugs along paths that they walk frequently to move around the house or get outside. This will not only make your pet feel like a movie star, it will help avoid unfortunate slips on slippery hardwood or tile.
No doorbells and no knocking on the door – Hang a sign outside to alert any guests that your pet had a major surgery and you would appreciate it if they texted you rather than ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door. This will help avoid your pet springing into action, like the super hero they normally are, and risk twisting their leg, which would cause a potential set back.
Get a harness or sling – During the first week after your pet’s surgery, they may need some help getting up and going for their short walks. Having a blanket or towel to function as a sling may be suitable to help support many pets, but this may be difficult for larger pets or those with more severe injuries. For these pets, it is advised to use a harness (“help 'em up harness” see photo below), because it is more comfortable for the and safer for you.
Do everything you can to avoid steps – Our pets tend to approach the staircase as if it’s a timed event in the Olympics, and they tend to use a couple steps as a launchpad. This, combined with the risk for a fall injury, is the reason why your veterinarian does not want your pet using stairs. Therefore, it is advised to set up your pet’s recovery zone in an area that they can avoid stairs/steps.
This isn’t as much of an issue if your pet is small and you are able to pick them up, but what do you do if your pet is larger? Your safety is a top priority, and you should never risk your safety by attempting to pick up your pet to avoid stairs. Just remember the principles – All activity must be performed at a slow, controlled walking pace on a leash, on a flat non-slip surface. If stairs/steps must be performed, then slowly walk up to them with your pet on a very short leash, completely stop, and very slowly go up the steps at a walking pace. This likely will mean that you’ll need to stop every couple of steps so that they do not run ahead.