Viv-Aid 2010

A few Sundays ago, we were privileged to attend a lovely event at our friends’ Topanga Canyon bungalow. Viv-Aid was a genius idea and benefit for Shevy’s mutt, Vivian; a sweetheart labrador girl who suffered a recent ligament tear and successive surgery. We were so happy to see Viv up and walking around greeting everyone with her big grin. Her limp was there but she managed it well and seemed like she’d be back to her old self in no time.

Shevy and Bucher were very attentive to their dear Vivian; just what one would intuitively think is needed after an animal goes through a rough surgery. But this really got me wondering a couple things. First, “How do you effectively rehab an animal after a surgery or injury and make sure they don’t become re-injured?” And second, “How long does it actually take for them to heal?” With all of the stress and anxiety caused from anticipating surgery, it’s often easy to overlook what happens after a surgery. You’re just celebrating! But rehab is an essential part of any operation that assures its continued success. I started researching and found some pretty helpful information. Some of it’s common sense and some of the other bits may never even cross your mind. Here goes…

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take note of the answers. And if you don’t feel like you’ve gotten enough out of the vet you’ve been pestering, research, research, research….there is tons of stuff to learn from websites outside of the vet’s office. As we’ve already said, the period of time your pet recovers is one of the most important times of the rest of its life. Make sure you have the right information and act on it strictly.

Prepare your home for your pet’s arrival. Make yourself aware of new obstacles in your home that are ordinarily easy for your pet to maneuver around. Clear a path so your guy can easily move from the places he has to; in a dog’s world, this would be the yard (to use the bathroom), his bed, and his water and food bowls. There may be a period when he doesn’t and shouldn’t move more than this. You may even want to invest in a dog exercise pen or crate to keep your guy from moving too much. It’ll be an easy way for you to keep him safe and comfortable while you have to leave him alone. Be aware of the strain that stairs may cause and try to avoid their usage. This may mean keeping your guy only downstairs if you have a two story home, or restricting use to elevators in apartment buildings.

Minimize intense workouts and strenuous movement. Although it may be routine to exercise your pet daily, this may have to be put on the back burner for a certain period of time. Don’t allow jumping, running, rolling, or playing with other animals or people. Keep excitement to a minimum! To help reduce his energy, try to exercise and preoccupy his mind during recovery rather than his body. For pups, you may want to invest in a brain buster toy such as a Kong. If you’ve got a smarty on your hands, try those developed by Nina Ottosson. These toys are especially great for food motivated mutts.

Consider finding an animal rehab center. These professionals, trained in the particular field of physical therapy, will formulate an individual plan for your pet depending on the injury and severity of the case. Your animal will endure appropriate exercises for the stage it’s injury may be in, allowing the animal to continue exercise while healing, but limit its ability to strain or re-damage the problem area. The therapist will also give you specific directions on how to care for your pet during the healing process, possible exercises to perform at home, and will inform you of any certain movements that are off limits. Animal rehab can provide you with peace of mind as your pet heals and also create a new bond between you and your buddy.