Updated: Aug 25, 2021
Whether it's routine or an emergency, recovering from surgery can be stressful for dogs as well as their owners! Here are a few tips to make surgery recovery easier for you and your deaf dog.
Perhaps one of the most controversial topics in dog-raising is whether or not to crate train your dog.
Experts tend to agree that the ability for your dog to relax in a crate or confinement area is a necessary tool to have under their belt, even if it's not something you plan to use daily. Not only will your dog need to stay in a kennel while at the vet, dogs recovering from surgery also need to be confined in some way to limit their activity.
At the risk of making an already stressful event even more stressful, it's best to prepare by doing this training in advance. In general, crate or confinement training is a great skill for any dog, but especially in the context of the dog's health and safety.
To help work your dog's brain during activity restriction, have plenty of enrichment activities planned and ready. We typically recommended preparing as much as you can ahead of time, and then sticking it in the freezer to grab when needed, or even as a way to give your dog his regular meals.
There are a variety of enrichment products on the market, or you can make your own. The Facebook group Canine Enrichment has a lot of great ideas for store bought as well as homemade enrichment.
Our favorites are the Kong toy as well as the West Paw toys. Ultimately it's important to find what works best for your dog based on their interest and chew strength.
If you're like us and like to get creative with your enrichment stuffing, we strongly recommend checking out What's In My Kong on Instagram for some ideas!
If you're looking for something more basic, you can use your dog's kibble. If you need to make it more enticing (or better for freezing), you can soak the kibble in water, low sodium chicken broth, or canned salmon.
Stock Up on Calming Products
Many people swear by Thundershirts, as well as various brands of calming products.
We have found that pheromone diffusers and collars can help a lot of dogs take the edge off, especially with young puppies. They are safe to use and easy to install.
If your dog has a history of not being able to settle and is at a potential risk for opening sutures or re-injuring themselves, it may be beneficial to have a discussion with your vet about adding a temporary medication to help keep your dog calm during the healing process.
Train Your Deaf Dog to Wear an E-Collar (Elizabethan Collar), or Cone
Check out this tutorial that covers teaching your deaf dog how to be comfortable wearing a cone. Many dogs find this uncomfortable, especially because it tends to limit their vision. There are several different types of cones on the market. Some dogs do well with soft or inflatable cones, but speak with your vet for recommendations based on your dog’s activity level, body type, and the area you're keeping their face away from.
Teach Your Dog to Accept Handling
Often times during recovery, our dogs will need to be lifted in and out of vehicles or up and down stairs. This is another topic that is important to address before it's needed. When dogs are in pain, they can be much more resistant to being touched or lifted, which may put pressure on sensitive areas. Even the most friendly dogs can bite in these situations.
We can help our dogs become comfortable with being touched by pairing these actions with food, which triggers a dopamine release in the brain. Again, this is a great skill for your dog to have under their belt before it's needed, as by the time it becomes a necessity it's often too late to start this training at a level where your dog is comfortable. It is recommended to check out some husbandry resources on Facebook like the Positive Dog Husbandry group on Facebook.
If your dog shows any signs of aggression (freezing, whale eye, looking away, growling, snapping, etc) when you're attempting this training at home, stop immediately and contact a capable and certified dog trainer in your area.
Recovery from surgery or injury can be made less stressful by following the advice above. It's always a great idea to prepare for an emergency, and reducing stress in our dogs' lives is no exception.
What are some other things that made recovery easier for your dog?