Gentle Ways to Exercise and Entertain Your Pet After Surgery

A pug wearing a surgical cone

After a surgery of any kind, your pet will need a specific combination of rest, medications, mental stimulation, and eventually gentle exercise in order to fully recover. This is why your veterinarian gives you careful instruction on how to care for your furry one after a procedure. 

Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital wants to give you some important tips and recommendations for your pet after surgery. This will help keep them occupied while allowing for some activity that is both safe and enjoyable.

Stick to the Rules

If you just brought home your cat or dog from a surgery, you likely got both verbal and written instructions from your pet’s doctor. It’s absolutely critical to follow these rules  to maintain the proper recovery for your pet. Overexertion after a procedure may result in them having to go back to the clinic, and can greatly impede the healing process. 

Bottom line: play it safe by following the directions. When in doubt, never hesitate to contact your pet’s care team for answers. We’re here for you.

Progressive and Gentle Exercise

Unless  your pet is confined to minimal or no movement for the week or two after surgery, most pets should be able to get up and stretch and relieve themselves. You may have to assist them and will need to supervise while they go to their litter box or outdoors to potty. This may be the extent of the exercise the first few days or weeks, depending on the seriousness of the surgery.

Once your pet has been cleared for walks, start slowly:

  • Go out no longer than 5-10 minutes and see how your pet is handling the slow walks. 
  • After a week or two, you can extend the walk to the end of  the block and back a few times a day. 
  • At about 3-4 weeks, you can likely resume your regular walking schedule as far as your pet’s postoperative healing time is outlined this way.

Cats can get some exercise by batting around a feather toy. Maintain their movement by playing in a pen or small area where they can stretch and interact with the toy without compromising their healing.

Pets who have had orthopedic surgeries can benefit from working with a pet rehabilitation therapist. Many times, they will instruct you on ways to use gentle, repetitive motion to increase flexibility and strengthen the muscles and joints. There are several passive range of motion exercises you can do with your pet, such as:

  • Walking with them on a treadmill at a very slow pace
  • Swimming in a shallow end of the pool
  • Moving in a circular motion 
  • Having them sit, then stand, and repeat
  • Having them lie down, then stand, and repeat

Ask us for additional low impact exercises for your pet in recovery.

Don’t Forget the Fun

It’s natural for a pet to become restless when crated or confined without some entertainment and enrichment. Even when they can’t frolic and run around, they can be mentally and physically enriched through the use of a variety of appropriate toys. 

Here are a few suggestions for enrichment during your pet’s recovery.

  • Kong or similar fillable chew
  • Nylabone
  • Tug of war toy
  • Animal videos
  • A window view of birds and other wildlife on a bird feeder
  • DIY frozen popsicles for cats or dogs
  • Treat dispensing puzzles
  • Favorite toys

Don’t forget the power of your loving attention! As they heal, they need extra reassurance, snuggles, and time together to make them feel better and speed their recovery.

Caring for a Pet After Surgery

We hope this overview gave you some ideas on how to exercise and play with your pet after surgery. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact us.