Care tips for large breeds | Dodgerslist for Dog Back Disease (IVDD)


Large Dog Care Tips IVDD

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Recovery suites | Potty time  | Bladder Expressing & health | Lifting Aids

RECOVERY SUITE options for large size dogs plus care ideas

Large dog care tips IVDD is focused on ideas for overcoming the challenges of caring for a heavy dog. Is your dog 30 or 100 pounds? Heavier than you can safely lift and carry for potty time? Worried about your own back when you need to lift your dog?

Big breeds do have specific challenges to solve during a disc episode or after surgery.

Conservative treatment requires STRICT rest for the disc to heal. Any time out of the recovery suite is always a danger to an early healing disc during conservative treatment. It is important to limit movement in getting out to the potty place during those weeks of conservative treatment.

Post-op rest also has challenges in moving or lifting for care or for surgeon directed PT. Surgery areas of bone, skin and muscles need time to heal. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s directives about the amount of movement allowed.

Consider ex-pen features for a large dog:

  • Easy for you to get into the pen area to access to your dog.
  • The panels can be folded back on themselves to snug up around the dog’s mattress.
  • The recovery suite space should be large enough to allow easy turning around.
  • The dog should be able to stand with all four paws on the ground. When lying down, allow enough space to fully stretch out their legs.
  • With an ex-pen recovery suite, space can be larger by expanding the panels to accommodate a pee pad when time for potty. Purchase the correct height panels for your dog’s height.
  • Video below shows the potential flexibility to fold and unfold ex-pen panels. The panels can expand or contract to fit a multitude of needs for dog care.

Set up the mattress system for easier maintenance during disc episode or for post-op surgical dogs.

  • Reduce laundry, protect the mattress and keep your dog’s skin free of urine scald.
  • The trick with setting up the mattress is layering in this order:
    • Bottom layer:  Enclose mattress in trash bag to protect and avoid difficulty cleaning foam, etc.
    • Middle layer:  Pee pad on top of mattress enclosed in trash bag
    • Top layer: Tuck in 100% synthetic fleece “bottom sheet” tightly all around the mattress. Helps to keep pee pad layer from shifting.
  • At suite freshening time, dispose of dirty pee pad. Toss the bottom sheet in the washer. Do have extra fleece bottom sheets handy and near the suite. Fleece that is 100% synthetic (no cotton content) is no-sew and does not ravel. Easily cut with scissors to sizes for the mattress.
  • Fleece (no cotton content, just 100% polyester) is available at fabric stores such as JoAnn’s. Find inexpensive fleece throws at big box stores, too. Synthetic fleece washes and dries very quickly. On a warm summer day, dry mattress linens outside in the sunshine. The fragrance will be wonderfully “outdoorish.”

Ways to limit footsteps to get to potty place

Save your back giving care to a weighty dog during the disc episode

  • Use a harness and a 6 foot leash to control speed, prevent darting or lunging at the potty place outdoors.
  • Place the recovery suite the very nearest to your door as possible for minimal footsteps in getting outdoors.
  • Roll a recovery suite crate to the sliding glass door where he will be able to take just the very fewest of footstep to some snow, a patch of sod or astro turf to potty on the deck. “Midwest Universal Crate Casters” will fit a wire crate available from local pet shop or on-line.
  • Make a potty area using an ex-pen up on your deck. Then there would be just a very fewest of footsteps out the sliding door into the ex-pen potty place!  To sum it up, the physical and the visual of the ex-pen will let the dog know there will be no sniff festing or darting off.
  • Protect your own back from having to lift and carry a heavy dog to the outdoors. Place a pee pad where he can take a footstep or two out of the recovery suite onto a pee pad.
  • Give an incentive to pee indoors by saving his or another dog’s urine-stained paper towel in a zip lock bag. At potty time put the incentive paper towel on the pee pad.  Command “go potty” and when he does, give praise. Soon he will get the idea it is OK to pee in the house on the pad. And with time be able to go on command.
  • Consider an ex-pen expansion to a wire crate. At potty time, you open the crate door to allow your dog to take a few minimal footsteps onto a pee pad.

Expressing the bladder and the bowels for health

Achieve good bladder expressing skills, a crucial health issue to prevent bladder infections. Expressing for poop for the incontinent dog is more of a mental health thing for the dog. Poop expressing can relieve a dog’s anxiety about finding feces where he sleeps. Dodgerslist expressing tips and ideas: MALE/FEMALE Poop and bladder expressing (Dodgerslist):

Expressing demonstrations showing large FEMALE dogs:

Tips for keeping your dog dry and free of infections.

  • Order large-dog size pee pads to accommodate the volume of urine output .  Also price check for disposable adult bed-pads on line or a local hospital supply store.
  • While learning the new skill of manually expressing the bladder, expect a week’s worth of practice to reach a good skill level that keeps a dog dry.
    • The goal with expressing is to express often enough.
    • To express til the bladder is pretty flat (empty) to extend the dry time til next expressing session.
  • By week’s end you will gradually extend expressing sessions from every 2-3 hrs advancing up to every 4-6 hours.
  • Even expect your dog to stay dry with 8 hours of sleep when good expressing skills are perfected.
    Medium to large dog garments for the incontinent.
  • While learning a new skill of expressing the bladder, as last resort/temporary idea, some sort of absorbing garment can be helpful to reduce laundry for the large urine output and prevent urine on skin/fur.
  • As a temporary measure while learning, if necessary, order large sized dog diapers.
  • Garments to keep absorbent product from sliding out of position:

Diapers/belly bands may increase the risk of bladder infection and urine scald on skin.

  • Make sure skin is thoroughly dry before diaper/bellyband use. To prevent urine scald, apply a moisture barrier with a non zinc product:  Aquaphor Baby or Aquaphor regular Healing Ointment  or Bayer’s A+D® Original Ointment
  • Urine on the skin can scald skin. This can invite bacterial infection. Yet, baths are dangerous during conservative treatment where the disc needs limited movement to heal.
  • A big, wet, heavy dog is a slippery dog! Also during the post-op rest period be aware the surgery areas need time to heal. A safer idea is to use unscented baby wipes for quick clean-ups of skin and fur. Add a hand sprayer to white vinegar bottle for quick clean up on hard surfaces and even rugs.
  • Marjorie’s tip: Brew DECAFFEINATED green tea. Dampen a washcloth with slightly warmed tea. It can neutralize urine on skin and fur to avoid rashes from urine scald. Plus the green tea leaves a lovely earthy fragrance!
  • For males, make sure a too-tight diaper/belly band does not prevent penis from retracting. Apply a small amount of lubricant to tip of penis before use of diaper/belly band. Example: water based K-Y Jelly.

Lifting Aides

  • Gingerlead
    Ginger Lead Combo rear belly sling + leash to connect to your own harness to control speed.


  • HELP ‘EM UP: A complete shoulder and hip harness system:
    sizes for 10 to 225 pounds dogs.


    • The Help ‘Em Up Harness “is the best solution we’ve found to date.  It quite literally lets you quickly and easily pick your dog up like a large piece of luggage that has a shoulder strap.  The shoulder strap is sold separately but I highly recommend getting it along with the full harness.  As hard as it was for two of us to move our dog before, now that we have this harness and the shoulder strap, I know I can move her by myself if I have to.” by Rebecca Minick at

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