Exercises for Dogs on Bed Rest

February 9, 2019
Dogs need exercise to burn the calories they eat. However, when it comes to dogs on bed rest because of an illness or injury, things can get complicated.

If we let our dog sit for several weeks without moving, while still consuming the same amount of food, he may become obese very quickly. So, what should you do to help dogs on bed rest get the exercise they need?

Obviously, we aren’t saying you should force your sick or injured dog to overexert himself. However, there are some exercises he can still perform taking into account his specific case. These will help with his recovery and will also prevent his muscles from atrophying. 

Let’s talk about dogs on bed rest due to a fracture that is healing.

What exercises can dogs on bed rest do?

A girl and her dog on the beach.

Remember, these are the suggested exercises for a dog who is recovering from a fracture. A dog with a newly broken bone, even if it’s already in a cast or the area is immobilized, will not be able to perform them.

Stairs

Try to get your dog to walk down the stairs. This exercise requires him to use a different part of his body for each movement. This will make all of his bones, joints, and muscles work each time he does it. It will also help strengthen his skeletal system and increase his mobility.

In addition to having him go down the stairs, you can have him go up the stairs too.

Back legs

If the fracture occurred on one of your dog’s back legs, and it’s already healed, this is a great exercise. Use your hands to push on his legs and hold them for a moment before releasing; his legs will then go back to their original position.

This will help to mobilize and strengthen the animal’s muscles. 

Another way to help your pet is to lift up his front legs and have him walk on his hind legs. However, you don’t want to force him to do it; let him do it at his own pace.

Front legs

For this exercise, you’ll exert the same pressure you did on his hind legs on his front legs. This will help tone his muscles and tendons.

Bend his legs

Have him lie down on his healthy side and then take the fractured leg in your hand. Then, gradually start to bend it using a little force. Start out bending it slightly and then, little by little, add more pressure. This is an excellent rehabilitation exercise for dogs on bed rest.

Non-physical exercises for dogs on bed rest

In addition to physical exercises, you can also use this resting period to exercise your dog’s mind and to teach him new things.

Self-control

Use his food or some treats to teach him self-control exercises. Hold some of his food in your closed hand, and bring it towards him so he can smell it. It won’t take long before he starts pawing at your hand and pushing against it with his nose. Use this moment to tell him no. You want him to understand that he can’t take it until you tell him. Then, open your hand, but still don’t let him take it.

You won’t be able to train him to wait in just a day. However, this exercise will help him learn that he should only eat when you tell him, not whenever he wants.

Commands

A dog laying on the beach.

If your dog already knows the commands ‘come,’ ‘drop it’ or ‘fetch,’ you can take advantage of this rest period to teach him other things.

For example, if he can barely move, you can teach him to touch objects on command. You may try teaching him to touch your hand or other things with his nose; the command you use could be ‘touch.’

If he doesn’t have a lot of mobility but can walk a little, you could teach him to walk beside you, to go between your legs or to do anything else you can think of.

Taking on the challenge of teaching your pet new things while also helping him recover can be very beneficial. It will be like a game for him, and will keep him more amused so that he won’t feel so lonely. It’s a win-win situation!