Caring for an Irish wolfhound after surgery?
July 18, 2005 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Our Irish wolfhound has torn the ACL in one of her hind legs, and the knee is going to require surgery. We're worried about how to keep her "calm" and "off that leg" after the surgery, for 3 or 4 weeks, as the surgeon tells us we'll have to do.

She is about 5 years old, but VERY exuberant and hyper. She is also an outdoor dog, along with one much smaller, older dog. They have a pen in the backyard (it constitutes about a third of our yard, actually).

She is on painkillers right now, until we can get the surgery done (hopefully next week), but they haven't mellowed her down at all. The only thing we can figure out is to buy a kennel type cage to separate her from the other dog, make sure part of it is covered from the weather, and then clean out her poop with a shovel. But we DREAD the idea of keeping her cooped up and immobile like that for a month! Have any of you ever gone through this with your dog? How did you handle the aftercare, and how did your dog manage?
posted by BoringPostcards to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
My dog broke her pelvis when she was about 2. We put her bed in an enclosure about 4 feet square (she's about 70 pounds) and kept her in there for about 3 weeks. She's indoor/outdoor, so much of the time she was inside with us where it was easier to keep an eye on her. As long as one of us would sit in there with her for a little while a few times a day, she didn't seem to mind it too much. We took her out on a leash to do her thing (to make sure she didn't run at all), then right away she had to come back in and get back in the cage. Usually she's pretty hyper, but being cooped up kept her pretty calm. Honestly, it seemed harder on us than it was on her---I hated seeing her stare out between the bars. But she healed great, and she's 10 now and has no problems, so I'd say it was worth it.
posted by doubtful_guest at 1:50 PM on July 18, 2005

My wife is a Veterinary Technician (and ACL surgeries are a specialty at her hospital), and here's her advice:

The crate/kennel is a good idea, and you can do things to keep a dog busy with letting be too active, like filling a Kong-style dog toy with peanut butter or soft cheese, and then freezing it. It will take them a while to lick it all out.

Also, she reminds you that your attitude can affect the dog.s mood, so stay positive, but also remain calm, quiet and serene around the dog, and that will help it to relax.

Finally, a mild sedative is occasionally prescribed to help keep things mellow - ask your vet.

She also notes that it is very important to follow your vet's instructions - these surgeries do occasionally have to be redone if the dog is allowed to jump and run around.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:33 PM on July 18, 2005

My mom's cat had to have this same surgery.
Must agree with Rock about the sedative.
This cat is a jumping menace so the vet kept the cat doped up for a week after the surgery and she was kept in small closet area so she couldn't hop around.
posted by phytage at 2:44 PM on July 18, 2005

Cut her food back and make what you do give her a "project" (like the Kong idea above). Supplement her with green beans or other high-fibre veggies to help her feel full with less food. Sedatives may be necessary, discuss this with your vet.

Is there any way she can be an indoor dog during this period? A crate in the house means she will have more to see and more interaction to help keep her mind off things. At very least, you need a crate for her, and take her out on-lead to relieve herself, please don't just shovel her poop out of her cage, she will be miserable and so will you - she is in a small space and dogs have a very strong disinclination to soil their sleeping area (which we can overcome if we force them to, which is very undesirable) - she's likely to try not to defecate very often, which will lead to constipation (already a risk with the decreased activity) and other problems which she does not need. The recovery period management is crucial to the success of this operation, it's a hassle, but necessary. Good luck.
posted by biscotti at 4:30 PM on July 18, 2005

Response by poster: This is all great advice... thanks so much, everyone. Noted: food = project, walkies on leash instead of waiting to clean out the cage, possible sedatives.
posted by BoringPostcards at 6:45 PM on July 18, 2005

You'll have to find a way to keep the dog inside - 3-4 weeks is a short time assuming the dog is going to have a TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy). Plan on a five-week recovery minimum. For the first week your dog will want to stay inside - will probably have a doggie duragesic patch, which will keep it logy. But when you're away, do have a crate, and make sure there's a non-slipping carpet on the crate floor.
My shep/lab mix had a TPLO and before the procedure had always climbed stairs in the house to snoop around. I got baby gates and slept on the first floor for months. Climbing was discouraged by my vet. After week one, it may be necessary to sedate your dog. Most likely it will not be very frisky anyway, so don't go for sedatives right away. Full kong treats are good. When you go outside use a leash always, avoid climbing up/down more than 3 stairs and make two 'business only' walks, then a couple more per day extending the walk per your vet's instructions.
posted by nj_subgenius at 6:52 PM on July 18, 2005

...and if wolfie isn't getting a TPLO, ask why not.
posted by nj_subgenius at 6:54 PM on July 18, 2005

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