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Crate Rest Recovery Process

Translation: Polski
Ideas to deliver effective crate rest recovery
during Post Surgical or Conservative Medical treatments

It is imperative to keep the dog quiet 24/7 during the recovery period of 8 weeks if the dog is recuperating with conservative treatment (crate rest and medical management) to give the disc the best chance to form secure scar tissue.  Dogs on conservative treatment are limited only to a very, very few minimal footsteps at potty time.

Your surgeon will direct the number of weeks for post-op rest  One benefit of surgery is physical therapy can start soon after surgery.


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Dodgerslist disc disease (IVDD) videos
In-depth video series on disc disease includes Dr. Lawson, DVM, explaining all about conservative treatment. Every Dachshund owner should watch these videos!

Options for recovery suites

Wire crates are tolerated well by most dogs over the plastic airline crates. Wire crates can be purchased or modified so the top opens to lift the dog in and out of the crate. Playpens, ex-pens or with noted restrictions for pet strollers are other options. Size of the recovery suite should only be big enough to stand up, turn around and when lying down to fully stretch out legs. Pad out extra room with a rolled up blanket or towel  CAUTION: Laundry baskets are not acceptable for use at any time as they can tip over and the dog can jump out of.... even a paralyzed dog can do this.
Recovery Suite Options: stroller expen crib wire crate
Your dog needs a flat, always horizontal and firm surface to support his back during recovery, restriction from bolting or to keep others from bothering that only a crate or the other options noted provide. (No couches, no beds, no laps) Humans and other pets must be discouraged from any kind of play whatsoever during the pet's recuperation. Avoid giving toys that promote tugging or pulling activities.

YouTube alternate link:

Size of recovery suite
Use a wire crate (rather than plastic or canvas) for a less isolating feeling. The restricted area (ex-pen, crate, etc.) should be approximately the as wide as the dog's head to tail length by 1.5 times the dog’s length.  The suite should be tall enough for the dog to stand on all fours.  The dog should be able to easily turn around. When lying down the dog should be able to fully stretch-out their legs.  Pad out any extra room with a rolled up blanket. Full details plus photos on setting up the recovery suite.  More member tips for supplies to make crate rest time go smoother.

The mattress
Make crate rest as comfortable as possible for the dog. A memory foam or eqg crate mattress will relieve pressure points on the skin. Protect mattress from liquids by inserting in a large trash bag and taping closed. Keep extra changes of bedding handy. No ravel/no sew 100% synthetic (no cotton) fleece can be cut to needed sizes and used as linens and blankets. It dries quickly and wicks moisture from the skin.

Print and post
Know medication side effects, etc. Ask your pharmacist for the informational sheet or Google the medication. Tape this flyer on your fridge covering emergency signs that your whole family needs to know about.

Incontinent supplies

If your dog is incontinent, male wraps  can reduce laundry just until you become proficient in expressing the bladder or bowels. 
Diapers are NOT recommended. Dogs abhor being near/in their feces, diapers cause problems with skin. Proper expressing  is what keeps a dog dry and the bladder healthy. Avoid ointments containing zinc, it is toxic if too much would be ingested.

Is your dog rambunctious? Ask your vet about Rescue Remedy Pet, Plain Benadryl or some other calming aid. It is imperative that during the healing period the dog rests. Being inside the crate jumping against the crate is not resting. The dog must be calm. Make sure you are not inadvertently training the dog for unwanted behavior. Rewards are food, eye contact, speaking, approaching the crate. Emergency crate training information. 
Music:  Hours of Relaxation Music for Dogs Great for people too!  Here's the playlist for all 70+ "tunes" :  ; 10 hours of calming rain sounds:

Potty times
Get your dog on a feeding schedule. Potty times will be predictable and accidents can be prevented. Steroids cause thirst. Paralyzed dogs may need to be expressed every 3-4 hours while on steroids. Paralyzed dogs can also be expressed for poop. Walking dogs will also need to be taken outside more often when on these drugs.

Always carry your dog to and from the potty area. Carry your dog supporting both ends with each arm. Use a six-foot leash attached to a harness and a sling to stabilize the rear. You stand in one spot to minimize the number of footsteps your dog may take.

An ex-pen or wire poke-in-the-ground garden edging fence is an excellent alternative to minimizing footsteps
with the physical and visual to indicate there
will be no sniff festing going on!
Use a sling if your dog is wobbly
to keep the back aligned and butt from tipping over.

Place the crate near a window with a view, on the coffee table in front of couch where you sit. Place the crate so the dog will be in the middle of family activities, near your bed at night. Secure crate to a flat moving dolly (or put casters on plywood) to easily move the crate room to room. Fill a kong with a slight slather of soft dog food and freeze. Put part of the dog's total daily dinner kibble in the kong to lengthen time to consume dinner. Good low cal snacks are carrots, apples, or frozen green beans, licking a frozen low sodium broth ice cube.

Medication log
Make a log chart to keep track of who gave the medications and when to ensure that they are given properly.


Attach food and water bowls to the crate at head height, so the dog does not have to bend down to eat and drink. Always provide plenty of fresh water. Dogs on steroids will be thirsty.

Check this detailed list for even more useful supplies to make or gather up for a smoother time of recovery

Physical Therapy

Your vet will demonstrate passive range of motion exercises & how to massage the legs during crate rest for the downed dog.
   Ask your vet about hydrotherapy, for post-op cases or when 8 weeks of conservative treatment has been completed. Acupuncture and Laser Light Therapy can be started immediately. Avoid chiropractic (aka VOM) or any manipulation/adjustment of the spine.

It is crucial the dog maintain a healthy weight to reduce stress on the spine. After crate rest is over, when his body has recovered from the IVDD episode, ask your vet when your dog's diet can start. After crate rest, follow the guidelines of your vet or canine nutritionist regarding weight-loss goals. 
Web site for researching and learning more about the difference between junk and quality foods:

Do your best to avoid a high carbohydrate, low-calorie food. Opt for a good quality, high-protein dry kibble, just using less of it while taking the excess weight off over a 1-2 month period.

Don't be too quick to get a cart. Many dogs don't ever need them. Assess whether money is better spent on a wheelchair or PT to learn to walk again only after the initial recovery period of 6 to 8 weeks of crate rest has been completed. Nerves are the slowest part of the body to heal, it can take as long as 6 months or a year+ for a full recovery.


This information is presented for educational purposes and as a resource for the Dachshund community. The coordinators are not veterinarians or health care professionals. Nothing herein should be interpreted as medical advice and all should contact their pet care professionals for advice. The coordinators are not responsible for the substance and content contained herein and do not advocate any particular product, item or position contained herein.

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