OCD Shoulder Surgery


  • Reduce lameness and inflammation
  • Improve limb use
  • Maintain comfort
  • Increase weight bearing at stand
  • Begin returning the limb to full function


Superficial Ice or Heat – Ice should be used until the swelling is gone and the temperature of the surgery area returns to normal, typically the first 3-5 days after surgery. Ice reduces post-surgical inflammation and swelling and improves comfort. By the 6th day after surgery, the inflammatory phase has subsided and the healing phase begins. At this point it is best to switch to heat therapy, which increases circulation, improves tissue flexibility, and improves comfort.  

For each ice/heat session, first lay the patient down with the surgery limb up. Placing a rolled towel underneath the limb will help to keep the leg parallel to the floor and decrease stress on any joints. Place a thin towel over the limb at the surgery site. Apply ice/heat using the gel pack, moist warm towels, a warm bath, or shower massage. Keep the ice/heat on the area for 15-20 minutes to allow the cold/warmth to fully penetrate the tissue.


Starting at the toes, use gentle pressure in long stroking motions to massage the limb, progressing all the way up to the chest/shoulder area. This light pressure will stimulate circulation, which in turn will help to decrease swelling, inflammation, and stiffness.

Passive Range of Motion Exercises – These exercises should not cause pain. Only flex or extend the joint to a comfortable point.

Slowly and smoothly move the limb in an exaggerated bicycle-pedaling motion. Do 10 repetitions in each session. This exercise should be done both lying down and standing.

Gently apply pressure to the toes of the front paw to get the patient to retract the limb away from you. Hold the limb and resist for 5 seconds then release. Do this 5 times in each session.


Active Exercises – Activity at this stage should be closely monitored and kept at a minimum.

Short leash walks on a flat surface are recommended. At this point, all movement must be slow and low-impact. The goal is to encourage careful weight bearing.

Aim for two short, slow leash walks (not more than 5 minutes) each day after warm packs, massage, and range of motion exercises.

Shake hands exercise – Stand in front of your pet while it is sitting and encourage it to shake hands using a low-calorie snack. Repeat 5 to 10 times per session. This exercise actively flexes the elbow joint and conditions the muscles of the front legs.

Ice – Following exercise, apply a towel over the limb and place an ice pack over the surgery site for 10-15 minutes.


veterinarian Dr. Ken Brown

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