Help keep my dog sane while he recovers
May 24, 2010 5:38 AM   Subscribe

My dog had a severe laceration to his paw yesterday. He's been stitched by the vet, but paw stitches are fragile and require a dog to be kept inactive. What can I do to keep him from going insane?

My dog is a border collie / golden mix, so he's naturally very active. He normally likes to run, play, and chase things; but heavy playing or activity is off limits now. Any kind of running or jumping could tear the suture and reopen the wound.

Given these new limitations, what are some activities I could try that will occupy or entertain him for the next few weeks while his paw heals?

Alternatively, does anyone have any experience treating a dog for this kind of injury that would make the healing process easier?

You are not my vet, of course.
posted by fremen to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How is he with puzzle toys? My last dog, an incredibly hyperactive and enthusiastic, could play with one of these for hours without any running around or chasing.
posted by Catseye at 5:56 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can go back and ask the vet for some drugs to ease his short-term discomfort. There's a wide range of stuff today and there's no reason for him to suffer needlessly if he's really bound up.
posted by unixrat at 5:58 AM on May 24, 2010

Chewy things are your friends here. Kong toys, Everlasting Treat balls, big beef bones, etc.Also it will help if you can be with him in the same room doing lazy, calming stuff; watching TV, reading, internet. Take him for supervised exercise (walks on leash say) as often as your vet allows. And yeah, drugs help! Ask your vet. Good news is, dogs heal fast. He'll be tearing around again safely soon.
posted by The otter lady at 6:14 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Put peanut butter and/or cheese and/or treats in a Kong Toy and freeze overnight. A stuffed and frozen kong will keep most dogs attention for vast periods of time. Similarly, if you have a patio area where you can confine him a bit, take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with a variety of treats and/or veggies. Pour in chicken broth and freeze. Good luck, keeping active dogs off their feet is a chore in itself!
posted by labwench at 6:20 AM on May 24, 2010

Dogs know you love them and care for them and are caring about them, and will pay attention to you, will sense your concern and whatnot. At least that's been my experience with them, and while they may not like it to calm down and stay still they'll do it. At least they will when you're around -- when you're gone, at work or whatever, all bets are off.

When Rusty, The Wonder Dog cut her pad and also up in between the pads real bad once, I put a monster bandage on her whole dang paw and even up her leg after it was stitched up, and she didn't like it but resigned to it, and didn't try to chew it off, or not much anyway. There was a lot of deep sighing, like "Humphhh..." and she didn't want to play along but she did. Seems it's natural for them to want to lick and try and heal themselves, probably feels good to them.

My exp with cuts has been keep it covered most all the time and keep neosporin or equivalent on the cut and it'll heal lots faster and healthier, I do that on my own cuts and did it on cuts that she got, too, might want to check with your vet to make sure it wouldn't hurt your pooch if it licked the stuff off...

Good luck, happy healing
posted by dancestoblue at 6:52 AM on May 24, 2010

I don't know if you're using an Elizabethan collar on your dog to prevent him from licking his paw, but when ours hurt his a few weeks ago, our vet suggested I go buy a few pairs of cheapo human baby socks and use them as, well, doggie socks over his wounded paw to prevent licking. You can use surgical tape to secure it. Although he looks a bit sour there in that picture, our dog didn't seem to mind the sock as much I expected he would, and didn't try to tear it off. It also kept dirt from getting on his paw when we had to take him outside to pee, which was good. On preview, what dancestoblue said.
posted by misozaki at 6:56 AM on May 24, 2010

Here's kind of a weird suggestion, but I swear it works. Parents of babies will be familiar with this: if he's really worked up, take him for a ride in the car. (This is assuming that he's good in cars, and it doesn't work him up more.)

When I do transports for rescues, even the most stressed dog usually calms down after a few minutes on the road. This works best if you can cruise at highway speeds for a while without a lot of stop and go. I also play calming classical or jazz music, or turn on NPR if there's someone on with a soothing voice.

Poor baby! Good luck.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:14 AM on May 24, 2010

Living near a coast covered with oyster shells has made me pretty good at dealing with this scenario. (The dog has boots now, finally...)

I keep it wrapped: Vetrap is your friend, with a piece of gauze directly on top of the wound. The Vetrap is self-sealing, but I've used duct tape with determined dogs. Sometimes I put a sock on top of the Vetrap and duct tape THAT. (My dog has a very big snork, and she can get around an E-collar with some luck.)

I change the bandage once a day and give it a sea salt soak -- ask the vet, though, because I've never had one of my dogs stitched up, so this may be contraindicated.

And... Benadryl. I know, I'm a bad person. But sometimes this is the ONLY way I can keep them from moving around so much they open it back up again. And Benadryl is pretty darn safe. Just start small and work up till you find an effective dose.

Good luck! As you no doubt noticed when you found the injury, there's a lot of blood flow to the pads, so that area heals very quickly. Hope your pup gets well soon!
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:50 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Benadryl. Knocking them out is sometimes the best way.
posted by bolognius maximus at 9:44 AM on May 24, 2010

fiercecupcake, you are not a bad person for suggesting Benadryl! I was going to suggest asking the vet for something like acepromazaine (Benadryl does nothing for Sunshine).
posted by radioamy at 10:09 AM on May 24, 2010

Feed all his meals in stuffable toys (Kongs, etc.). Having to think about and work for his food will make some of the boredom go away. You can even pour low sodium broth or water in and freeze the Kong with food in it to make it last longer.

Clicker train (with part of a meal) some stationary tricks (touch with nose, touch with paw, put head on ground, sneeze, lick, shake head, etc.). Google for clicker tricks, there are tons.
posted by biscotti at 10:11 AM on May 24, 2010

I asked this question a while back. Some of the answers might be of use - good luck, considering collies & golden retrievers are two of the smartest breeds around:-)
posted by invisible ink at 4:27 PM on May 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great answers. We already tried some of them these last night, and using a sedative will be something we turn to if we can't keep him calm otherwise.

A couple of other things that are applicable to us:

- We have an Elizabethan collar for him, but we needed to teach him to eat and drink with it on first. I wouldn't recommend anyone just slap one on a dog without making sure the dog can manage themselves.

- Our vet instructed us not to change his bandages or get his bandage wet. She wants to handle that herself after 5 days. I think it's because the bandage is the only thing really keeping the stitch and his paw in place, and it should be tied just right to keep his foot supported.

- Her bandage is wrapped in a layer of this tough sticky material called Elastikon. It's definitely durable, but the stickiness doesn't last long. We're on the hunt for some we can buy and use in the interim between bandage changings.

- She also supplied a basic IV bag to use as a booty when he's outdoors in the wet grass. It's really simple but works great, and it also stops him from messing with the bandage when he's not wearing the collar.
posted by fremen at 11:27 AM on May 25, 2010

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