Your dog has had a decompressive hemilaminectomy (the removal of bone over the area of spinal cord compression.) Following surgery, we observe our patients for signs of discomfort or any complication associated with the surgical site. Neurological function, pain sensation, reflexes, ability to voluntarily move the legs, and bladder function have been evaluated several times per day. The following guidelines will help with recovery. The most important part of recovery for neurological patients is consistency and patience. Every dog has a different time frame for recovery.

  • Because your pet is paralyzed they could easily get hurt if allowed to roam free in the house, especially around steps or stairs. We recommend you keep them confined to a kennel, play pen, or small room unless under your direct supervision. Soft bedding, at least one inch in thickness, must be supplied to prevent bed sores from developing. In addition, the bedding must be kept clean and dry to prevent urine scald. If your pet does come in contact with any urine, rinse the affected area with warm water and pat dry with a towel and lightly blow dry.
  • Superficial heat 2-3 times daily will be helpful. With your pet lying down, comfortably place a towel between their surgery site and the warm pack. Apply a warm pack for 10-20 minutes; be sure to check the skin every 5 minutes for redness. If the area is red please discontinue the heat application until the next session.
  • Gentle massage will increase circulation. Lay your pet comfortably on their side or prop up on its sternum. Begin with light strokes starting near the hind end and work forward up the spinal column. Also use gentle massage on any of the large muscle groups.
  • Passive range of motion (PROM) following massage is beneficial. PROM promotes healing, and decreases atrophy. Gently grasp your pet’s paw and move each of the limbs in a flowing, circular, forward to backward motion. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions 2-3 times daily. Assisted standing exercises will be helpful to gain strength & begin to bear some weight. Using a towel or sling for support, allow him/her to bear as much weight as possible. As he/she weakens and begins to slowly collapse, lift back to standing position with the limbs squarely underneath the body. Start with 5-10 repetitions, and gradually increase to 5 minutes per session.
  • If your pet does not produce any urine or if you notice that the urine is discolored or foul smelling please have him/her seen at our clinic or your regular veterinarian. Pets suffering from spinal conditions often develop urinary tract infections and should have routine urine checks.
  • If you notice any worsening of neurological status, such as breathing difficulties or decrease in limb movement, you should contact our hospital or your regular veterinary hospital immediately.
  • Plan to schedule an evaluation in 2 weeks from the date of surgery. At this time your pet may have their sutures removed; we will monitor the urine function and assess the neurological status.
  • 4 weeks following surgery another evaluation is recommended. An assessment of your dog’s progress will be conducted. We may be able to recommend and provide Physical Rehabilitation Therapy at that time for a safe and improved return to function.

Please remember that the first 4-6 weeks following surgery are very important. During this time your pet must be monitored carefully and activity restricted.

Dr. Ken Brown, Veterinarian

Animal Clinic of Billings and Animal Surgery Clinic

veterinarian Dr. Ken Brown

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providing our region’s companion animals and their families what they need and deserve since 1981

1414 10th St. West, Billings MT 59102