Post-Op Care Instructions

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Resources for Post-Op Care & Recovery: Dog Laying On Bed

After receiving 24-hour nursing care at Southeast Veterinary Neurology following their spinal surgery, your pet will be discharged to go home with you. The instructions below reinforce the information we provide for our clients when they arrive to pick up their pets.

Have questions about your pet’s recovery?

Resources for Post-Op Care & Recovery: Puppy in Crate

Crate Rest

Crate resting your pet is the best way to help them recover from neurosurgery or a neurological condition. The goal with crate rest is not to immobilize your pet, but to restrict their movement for a limited period of time—that means no running, jumping, playing, or rough-housing.

To properly confine your pet, they will need to be kept in a crate or small enclosed area. They should only be taken out about 3-4 times a day to urinate or defecate, and should always be kept on a leash during these outings.

How Big Should My Pet’s Crate Be?

Your pet’s crate should be two to three times the size of your pet. That means they’ll have enough room not only for relaxing, but for standing up and turning around as well, and moving over if they happen to have an accident. Furthermore, the crate needs to have a top so your pet can’t jump out of it.

What Kind of Bedding Should I Use?

Soft bedding is ideal, as it will prevent the development of pressure sores while also keeping your pet comfortable during their recovery. For a base, we recommend using a foam mattress with plastic covering so it’s easy to clean. Over this, you can place towels or blankets, which should be kept clean and dry at all times. Check on your pet’s bedding frequently in case they might have had an accident.


It’s extremely important that your pet is urinating voluntarily and at their normal daily frequency. If you find urine in their crate, this could indicate overflow, meaning that your pet is not urinating as frequently or fully as they should. If your pet is dribbling urine or unable to urinate on their own, call us or your primary veterinarian for an exam. You may need to manually express their bladder to prevent it from becoming too full.

Food and Water

Because your pet will be resting and not getting exercise, they probably will not eat as much as they normally do. You can feed your pet when you take them out to go to the bathroom, or you can leave food in their crate. Always keep fresh water available and within your pet’s reach.  

IVDD Surgery Aftercare

Learn To Express A Dog's Bladder


Your pet receives strong pain medications through an IV catheter during and after their surgery and will very likely go home with oral post-op medications as well. It is essential that you only give your pet the medications your veterinary neurologist prescribed for them. These medications can be used and given together safely.

If your pet is taking prednisone, you may notice them drinking, urinating, and panting more than normal. These symptoms are temporary. Furthermore, you can give your pet their heartworm, flea and tick medication if it is due.

Physical Rehabilitation

Southeast Veterinary Neurology offers both in-patient and out-patient physical rehabilitation options, depending on your pet’s individual needs.

The Goals of Physical Rehabilitation
  • Improving the time to recover from surgery
  • Improving the degree of your pet’s recovery from spinal cord injury
  • Reducing pain, discomfort, and inflammation
  • Improving and maintaining muscle strength and joint mobility
  • Improving quality of life
  • Weight loss
Physical Rehabilitation Services
  • Laser therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Manual therapy
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Pain management
  • Massage and stretching
  • Gait training
  • Treadmill training
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Fitting for carts
Conditions that Can Benefit from Physical Rehabilitation
  • Neurologic conditions (surgical and non-surgical)
  • Non-surgical management of IVDD (intervertebral disk disease)
  • Orthopedic conditions (surgical and non-surgical)
  • Age-related geriatric maintenance and wellness
  • Pain management
  • Fitness, conditioning, and weight management
  • Wellness, prevention, and fun
  • Feline myelopathies
  • Polyneuropathy

We may recommend passive range of motion exercises for your pet if they are unable to move their legs altogether.

First, have your pet lay down on their side, then gently move their hind limb through normal flexion and extension for about 5 minutes, then do the same for their other limbs. Try focusing on each joint individually (pelvic joint, stifle, and hock). If this exercise is painful for your pet, discontinue and get in touch with us right away.

There are other exercises you can try with your pet while they are on crate rest. Consult with one of our rehabilitation practitioners here at Southeast Veterinary Neurology so we can prescribe the proper exercises for their needs.