CAGE REST: SPINAL CORD INJURY
The phrase “cage rest” is used to describe a period (usually 4
weeks) of confinement following spinal injury. Animals are
typically kept in the cage at all times, except when they are under
the immediate supervision of owners or need to eliminate. Running,
jumping, and rough play are prohibited during cage rest. In
addition, walking around the home for excessive periods of time –
even under supervision – is discouraged. While these
recommendations seem strict, they are made to facilitate proper
healing following injury.
Why Cage Rest is Important
During certain spinal cord injuries and following spinal surgery,
the structures that support vertebrae can be injured. The disk, a
structure that acts as a cushion between vertebrae, is particularly
slow to heal. Excessive activity can damage supporting structures
and lead to spinal pain, weakness, and spinal instability. Rest,
however, needs to be combined with a physical rehabilitation
- Your pet must be kept in a cage or kennel at all times, except
when undergoing physical rehabilitation, using the restroom, or
sitting beside you under your immediate supervision.
- The kennel or cage should be large enough for your animal to
stand up and turn around.
- Even if your pet is recovering well, is walking normally, and
pain-free before the four week period of exercise restriction is
complete, please complete the full course of cage rest.
- Please take your pet on slow leash walks so they can eliminate
outdoors, for about five minutes at a time (less if they seem
tired), 3-4 times a day.
- If your pet seems to remain comfortable, slowly increase the
walk duration to about ten minutes after surgical staple
- At no point, should your pet be off their leash, run, play, go
up and down stairs or jump on and off furniture.
- Permanent lifestyle changes that have been speculated to reduce
the recurrence of disk herniation and other spinal injuries include
weight restriction, reduction in high impact activities (rough play
with other dogs, jumping on and off of furniture, etc.)
- Please carefully observe your pet to ensure that they are
continuing to regain neurologic function and can void urine
voluntarily. If you are at all concerned, please do not hesitate to