How To Keep An Active Dog ‘Activity Restricted’

It was almost one year ago that Henrietta suffered a partially torn ACL. That involved her being on activity restrictions because it was her overly active activities that were the cause of her tearing the ACL. Our vet gave me the option of having surgery to repair it or putting Henrietta on a drug and activity regimen to see if it cleared up. I realize that when she gets older she will need to be carried up and down the stairs and lifted on and off furniture because she will be arthritic, but frankly I do a lot of that now. Hen on chair

Two weeks ago another health saga started. Actually it started on a Sunday afternoon when Henrietta launched herself off of the couch  and toward the door because she heard a noise outside. A few seconds after she landed her attitude changed. Her tail drooped. She tried to hide behind the couch. I got her out and called her over to see if she was limping — my first thought was that it was the ACL again. No limping.

Dinner time rolled around and she had no interest — another bad sign because Henrietta always has an interest in food. Then the human dinner time rolled around and we were having fish, which is one of her favorites. She didn’t move from the couch and honestly she typically sits at one off the kitchen chairs while we eat. I grabbed her doggy bed and brought it to the kitchen to have her near me. I offered her a piece of fish and she shoved it away and let the cats take it without even a tiny growl.

Our vet doesn’t have emergency hours and the emergency vet is really a horrific place to go and while I was wavering on whether I should take her there anyway, she all of a sudden perked back up. Okayyyy an hour of not moving and whimpering and now she’s back to normal? I couldn’t find a connection between the couch jump and the odd behavior but the girl was back… for about four hours.

We were getting ready to do outs before bedtime and I snapped on her collar and we headed down the stairs and she started whimpering. Again, I rubbed and felt her body and she didn’t shy away from my touch but kept whimpering just the same. It was a quick outdoor visit and I carried her up the stairs. She was starting to cry loudly when I picked her up but quieted when I put her in Hen and clydebed. The night was filled with me worrying and her crying at various intervals for no apparent reason.

The next morning I paced until 8 am rolled around, called the vet in tears, described what happened and they immediately said it sounded like a neck injury. What?! I don’t know how they got that diagnosis from what I described, but they are the professionals. I took her in and Dr. Neno said, “You may want to leave the room we are going to have to manipulate her neck and back until she yipes.” The waiting room was full and I didn’t want to cry in public so I reached out to touch her paw, turned my back and stayed.

It didn’t take long for the yipe and the diagnosis, “Disk injury in her neck.” What did that mean? It meant she will no longer be allowed to wear a collar (harness only) and she will no longer be allowed to jump on and off furniture (what?!) and we were activity restricted and she was supposed to be crated whenever I left the house. A drug regimen of steroids and pain meds were given and Dr. Neno said, “If she doesn’t cooperate, this injury could lead to paralysis.” Well, then I really started crying, full waiting room be damned.

Back home the task of blocking off the furniture so she couldn’t jump began. I went and bought a baby gate so she could be “locked” in the office with me while I worked during the day — to prevent her from running around the house and on and off the furniture I may not have blocked well enough. I knew she wouldn’t take well to being crated so I made my office jump proof and when I leave the house she is locked in there; she’s not happy but it’s better than a crate.

I didn’t realize how much, or how many opportunities, there are for her during the course of the day to jump on and off of things and I honestly don’t think I paid attention to how often she does it. It’s been an almost constant task of me saying, “Stop” or “Don’t jump” and having her wait until I am there to pick her up and put her on the couch or lift her off of it.

We have been shopping for harnesses and it’s been a relatively annoying task because for some reason they seem to really gape at her chest and she seems to always have a front leg that gets loose. I found one that kind of works but how boring for her to wear the same harness all the time when she is so accustomed to having numerous matching collars and leashes to choose from.

We’ve settled into a routine these past couple of weeks and today we are allowed to go for a 15 minute walk! I had to cancel her grooming appointment though because of the neck collar apparatus they use when grooming so she will be a shaggy dog for at least the next three weeks.

Stay tuned for more in the ongoing saga of Henrietta and her “middle aged body.” (I hadn’t even thought about the fact that she will be nine-years-old this September so she truly is middle aged, like the vet pointed out — where does the time go?)

My tips for keeping activities restricted:

  • Remove any jumping hazards. Your house may look like a maze when you’re lying baby gates and moving end tables in front of couches, but if it will keep your pet from jumping, it will have to be done.
  • Be prepared to carry your dog up and down the stairs. Thankfully, Henrietta is tiny so that is easy, I am not certain what a dog owner of a large dog would do — perhaps put up a ramp by the stairs?
  • Be willing to restrict your own activities to stay home and keep your pet safe
  • Call the vet if you notice any behavior that seems out of the ordinary. Dr. Neno said that most pets would deal with an injury like this and the pet parent would be none the wiser. Henrietta, though, has never hidden any injuries or illnesses and that could be just because I baby her so much.
  • Be willing to follow all instructions given by the vet. It shouldn’t take the words, “could lead to paralysis” to prompt a pet parent to follow the instructions, but for some people it just might.

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