Nursing Care

Apry 29, 2016

Activity restriction:

Your dog should be kept in a confined space. It should be padded well and lined with an absorbent pad to prevent urine scald.

If possible keep your dog in an area where he/she can see you and be part of the family (pack and play is useful for smaller dogs and x-pen for larger dogs)

Frequently check your dog’s skin and limbs for areas of pressure and periodically use baby wipes to clean all the skin and fur from the waist down, especially around the belly, genitals and upper thighs. ( With longer haired dogs it may be helpful to trim the fur around the genital area to prevent matting with feces and urine)

If your dog is unable to change positions independently he/she should be adjusted to a new position every few hours to prevent pressure sores (especially on bony prominences of the limbs (elbows, knees, hips,)

Positioning: Whenever possible place your dog’s limbs in the proper position, i.e. if rear limbs are straight forward, bend them into a natural position

Incontinence Care:

Doggie diapers for females and belly bands for males are helpful in containing urine.

Pee pads to line your dog’s crate/area are available at the pet store, but probably cheaper to buy the human version.

Regularly express your dog’s urine (as instructed by your vet) if your dog is incontinent

If urine has an unusual color or odor, take a sample to your vet for evaluation. UTI’s (urinary tract infections) are common in paralyzed dogs

Range of Motion:

When joints and muscles are not used they will tighten up into what is called contractures, and then they are unable to move normally. Simple range of motion (ROM) exercises will keep them supple.

A good general technique is to perform a bicycle motion with the limbs, with your dog lying on his/her side. For more specific stretching consult your vet or canine rehab therapist. Go slowly and gently and cause no pain. Perform this exercise 5 to 10 times on each limb and repeat a couple times per day.

If the limbs are very “stiff” this may be a result of the spinal cord not sending the right messages and is known as hypertonicity. The best approach is to consult a canine rehab therapist on how to work with this situation.

Stimulation techniques:

The messages from your dog’s brain to the limbs has been interrupted. Nerves are the wiring that talk to the muscles to make them move. If they have no input they will tend to shut down. There are a number of things you can safely do to help this from happening.

  • Gentle body massage – this will also help maintain circulation
  • If your dog is able to use his front limbs they will be working very hard and massage of the neck and shoulders will help them from becoming sore and tight
  • Tickle you dogs paws between the pads
  • Roll the tail gently in your fingers
  • Use a small vibrator/massager (on low setting) or baby brush on the limbs, or just gently rub/scratch them