To remind you, this surgery was to put artificial weight-bearing surfaces into R's elbow that has congenital dysplasia. R's recovery has not been a straight line from point A to point B. As you'll see in the video, he became quite reluctant to walk very much in Week 4. His gait was slow, and he didn't look happy. It was a hard phase for us because we were scared that something had gone wrong. We still insisted that he walk the 5X per day prescribed by our vet but we let him walk as slowly as he wanted to.
Thankfully, he started to bounce back around Week 5, with his gait looking smoother and perkier. By the time we arrived home from our trip at about the 6 week mark post-surgery, we discovered that he was naturally walking twice as fast as in Week 3. Walking the length of our driveway used to take 10 minutes and now it takes 5 minutes!
For rehab, R (and us) spent Weeks 3-5 taking 5 walks per day, each about 10 minutes in length. Now, he's allowed to do 4 leash walks of 15 minutes each on the fairly smooth trails near our house. Progress! And, he's thrilled to go on his walks. We have to hold him back so he doesn't break into a trot. That makes me smile!!!
Throughout our desert trip and now at home, rehab exercises are a big part of our day. He does 3-5 bouts per day of strengthening and range of motion exercises. His elbow range of motion has doubled since Week 3!
For both strengthening and range of motion, you'll see in the video that he does a lot of targeting of a pointer held higher than his shoulder with each paw. It's actually a harder exercise when he raises his normal leg (R) because his surgical elbow has to support his whole weight. We're working on it, as you'll see in the video.
He also does exercises on a squishy disk that forces the small muscles around his recovering elbow to stabilize it. Exercises on the disk are definitely his favorite ones even though they are difficult. Throughout every session, he continually puts his paws on the disk, asking if it's time for those exercises yet!
The vet says that his elbow is already less swollen than it was before surgery just due to the dysplasia. Things are looking good! You can watch our update video either here or at Youtube.
He has one more rehab "exercise". He needs to hold something with his front paws to aid in rebuilding the muscles around his left elbow. We're finding that he's reluctant to use his left paw in this way. He even refused to chew an antler! Finally, we found a bone that he's starting to hold a bit with his left paw. Aside from having to hold the bone, this is his favorite part of his rehab!
The acute recovery phase is now on the fast track, I think. I hope that he'll be out running in our mountains with Shyla before the end of the summer!