Injury or Surgery Recovery: Mishaps versus Setbacks

I am one of the most paranoid dog mom's out there. With Jasmine before her, and now with Cookie's health challenges, I watch her every move and every other thing makes my hair stand on end. As far as I see, there are dangers to smooth recovery lurking everywhere. Slippery floors. Wet grass or mud. Squirrels and bunnies. Holes. Loose rocks. Tempting furniture. Doorbells ...

Since I see all these things, I try really hard to minimize the risks.

We are using ramps. We cover floors with rugs. We use ToeGrips. We keep Cookie on leash at all times when outside. We try to avoid challenging terrain. We keep furniture low or easily accessible. We make sure everybody calls before showing up ...

The bottom line is that one cannot control every move their dog makes however hard they try.

Knowing that and accepting that isn't the same thing.

I have friends freaking out because their dog, recovering from a knee surgery, jumped on the couch and many such things all the time. Yes, they shouldn't be jumping on and off the furniture. Particularly not off it, as jumping off is actually more dangerous than jumping on. Yes, one should do everything in their power to prevent that.

But it can still happen.

Dogs are dogs and they will jump on the couch when nobody's looking, they will lunge after a squirrel ... Yes, you can try blocking the couch off so the dog cannot get on it. Depending on the dog, though, that may or may not be a good idea. I've had a dog barge through or over barriers when they really wanted to get some place. So the question is whether blocking things off makes the situation safer or even more dangerous.

I think the best thing is to allow them access to the places they want to be at but make it as safe as possible. You can put a ramp to the couch or bed and teach your dog to use it. You can make a "step" to it, such as we did with Jasmine. We've put a mattress in front of it so it was easy to step on and off.

As it seems, though, no matter how hard you try and how many precautions you take, something will happen that should not. Given my experience I can almost guarantee it.

The good news is that not every mishap equals a setback.

Yes, one unfortunate jump off a couch can bust a TPLO plate. Fortunately, this will not happen EVERY time.

That doesn't mean you should be cavalier and let your dog do whatever they please. But it means that should something like that happen, your dog can still be perfectly fine.

On the other hand, sometimes your dog might not have done much at all and not be fine.

After Jasmine got surgery on her left knee, we were watching out not only for the knee that was operating on but also for the other one which wasn't great either and we were trying to keep it healthy enough to get he through the recovery so it too could be operated on later.

We took all the above precautions and then some.

And then, a Jack Russel came at Jasmine from behind a corner, barking and lunging in her face. She gave only a small lunge and bark to tell the little dog his behavior was not acceptable. And her knee was done. That's all it took.

While rehabbing from her iliopsoas injury and right after she was diagnosed with a partial tear, Cookie had a major mishap. We are using a ramp for getting in and out of the truck. She normally waits nicely until the ramp is in place and uses it gladly. This time, though, too much was happening and she was trying to jump out before the ramp was in. She was verbally corrected so she tried to not jump but her body was already on the way. So she kind off fell out instead. My heart was in my throat. It looked terrible. And yet, nothing bad came of it. She was fine. Everything was fine.

Two days later she suddenly was limping on the left leg without anything weird or crazy happening that day at all. What happened? We'll never know. Fortunately as it seems it was just back muscle spasms and it resolved quickly.

At the beginning of the year, all I did was take Cookie potty. She decided she really had to have some zoomies. And even though on the leash, and in spite of my trying to calm her down, she did a few crazy jumps around me. That night she was limping heavily and the lameness remained for a long time.

When Jasmine's neck went bad, she hasn't done anything that day or the day before. And yet woke up in the middle of the day with her neck out of wack.

You never know what might happen and what might come of it.

There is only so much you can do. Sometimes the worst looking mishap doesn't result in any damage. Sometimes it does. And sometimes nothing happens and things go wrong anyway.

All you can do is try your hardest and hope for the best.

But know that not all the bad things always happen. Though our girls might beg to differ.

Related articles:
Surviving The Post-Op: After Your Dog's ACL Surgery 
Cruciate Ligament (ACL/CCL) Surgery Post-Op Care: Example Plan 
Best Practices After Your Dog’s Surgery

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