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Recovery from elbow dysplasia surgery advice

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Hi all,

Bailey (2yr) has always had on-lead reactivity towards other dogs which got markedly worse post-(chemical) castration. Long story short we did a pain med trial/imaging and discovered he had elbow dysplasia. He's had bilateral keyhole surgery today and good news is we caught it very early, so it is mild with minimal cartilage damage.

But, he now needs to be on restricted exercise, and not go off-lead for 6 months. We'll start hydrotherapy after 6 weeks, but in the short term he's on room-rest with only short on-lead walks. Fetch, stairs, jumping and running are all out of bounds.

I'm looking for suggestions for how we can get through the next few months without him (and us) going stir crazy. We have lots of chews, lickimats, snufflemats etc, and we will continue to teach him more tricks etc. He's very play orientated so any other suggestions for low impact games we can play with him would be very welcome!

Meghan and Bailey

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I feel your pain, went through something similar with a previous dog. Does he have favorite humans? And would he be calm enough if he got visits from those favorite humans from time to time?

If he can walk at all, you might hide a favorite toy or treat or human and tell him to find it. Maybe putting him on lead for this game would be helpful. Do you already use puzzle toys that he has to work at to get to the treats?

Best of luck!

Ruth & Gibbs

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Hi Ruth & Gibbs,

He does have favourite humans (other than us of course!), but he goes absolutely nuts with excitement when he sees them so i think that will have the opposite effect!

He's allowed to be off lead in the room he's resting in so this morning we played 'find duckie' as i hid it round the room. He's allowed 5 minute walks this week, rising to 5 extra walking minutes each subsequent week if his recovery goes well, so he gets some sniff time outside.

We've got various puzzle toys etc which work well, but he's missing the play element of fetch/tug which i can't do right now

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Don't know how you feel about tricks, but you can teach him some that don't involve a whole lot of activity or walking.  I love Karen Pryor's 101 THINKS TO DO WITH A BOX. Really fun for you and the dog and you can choose the ones that allow him to move in the way he is permitted to do during recovery. 

I did variations on this with my small and active terrier when he had TPLO surgery and a long recovery period.


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You might think about introducing him to scent work. Search for 'scent work for dogs' , there are a couple books available and even a video, I think. My Shoshone had arthritis in her feet, so any running etc was out of the question for her. She really loved scent work. It doesn't take much equipment at all. 

The good news is the hydrotherapy will hopefully wear him out nicely.

Best of luck!

R & G


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