Recommendations and Resources
Below is a list of some of my favorite dog and cat products and resources I find myself recommending repeatedly. Many of these I have purchased or used for my own pets. Due to simplicity, many are available on Amazon (as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases - noted with a *), whereas other products are linked directly to their company's website (no affiliation).
I hope you find this collection helpful!
If you can only purchase one piece of exercise equipment, I always recommend a traditional bosu ball. Bosu balls are versatile and can accomplish countless strengthening and balance options. As a bonus, pet parents can work out with the same equipment! Consider this an investment for the whole family.
Cavalettis help pets with almost any exercise goal, whether they are dragging their hind feet, learning to walk again after spinal injuries, puppies learning how to coordinate their body, or athletes improving their gait. This product has sturdier cones than others out there. Cones can also be used independently for weaving exercises. I have also seen owners make their own cavaletti set-up out of water jugs, 2x4s, and other creative methods!
This is a perfect piece of equipment to start with if you have a weak, unstable or small patient. It can be used for balance work, strengthening, and as part of an obstacle course for wobbly dogs.
This is the best cat toy! My boys would go crazy when da bird was brought out. Cats need exercise, too, and this rod/feather toy encourages natural prey behavior, stalking, jumping, and running.
It is imperative your dog has a quiet, safe place to rest during surgical recovery. We especially want to limit running, jumping (including on/off furniture) and stairs. I can't recommend investing in a good X-Pen enough. You can create a cozy space for your pet, and even link it to their crate to extend the space. Fill the pen with cozy blankets, a favorite chew, and water.
These blankets from PetParents are SO COZY and create a safe and snuggly space for your pet as they are recovering. The best part is these blankets are waterproof. So if your dog is still a little dysphoric from surgery and doesn't have normal bladder control, or if there is a little drainage from the incision site, you don't have to worry about bodily fluids soaking through to your floor or carpet. When my own dog had surgery for a mass removal, I kept one of these for the car ride home, and rotated two others in his recovery pen. Love them!
We all hate the "cone of shame." But here's the thing - it is imperative that your pet not lick at their surgery site -- doing so can irritate the incision, leading to longer healing times and sometimes infections. The lick sleeve is perfect for recovery of hind limb surgical procedures, such as TPLOs, FHOs, and THRs as long as your dog does not like to chew fabric.
There is nothing that compares to the benefits of icing a surgical site. Cold therapy reduces pain and swelling. I love this basic cold pack due to its flexibility that allows shaping to various sized joints, the velcro that keeps it in place, and the fact you can also use it as a warm compress should any seromas or tight muscles develop. Always use cold packs with supervision.
There is no other product out there that compares to the Help Em Up Harness! Use this product if your pet has hind limb weakness, if they are having difficulty rising from the floor, if they are wobbly in the rear end, if they are recovering from a spinal injury, or if they are simply having difficulty on stairs or jumping in/out of the car. There are many knock-off versions out there, but nothing compares to the comfort and fit of this device. Don't wait to get one - just do it!
Dogs with injuries need grip support. I love bulk rolls of yoga mats. They are more affordable than buying rugs, runners, and multiple yoga mats. Line the floor on/near stairs, near dog beds, the couch, and high traffic dog areas. Slippery floors lead to injuries and decreased mobility confidence in dogs that are already struggling to get up or move around.
Eddie's Wheels custom carts are built to fit your dog specifically. Send in photos and measurements (I can help with cart fitting measurements if needed), and give your dog the gift of independence! Choose from a rear cart, front cart, quad cart, and customize options to fit your lifestyle.
Even if your dog cannot do their normal runs or walks, it is still very important they get out of the house to explore new sights and smells. I love that this stroller is zipperless for easy entry.
Books / Resources
Dr. Zink was one of my rehab instructors, and she is one of the smartest people I have ever met. This book provides scientifically-backed advice on everything from puppy exercises to more formal adult training protocols. The best thing is this is not just for canine athletes - any dog parent can benefit from her explanations of how dogs are built, how they move, and how to work with your pet to keep them fit and healthy.
This is a wonderful resource for pet parents of aging dogs. Dr. Gardner provides practical advice for all kinds of medical conditions, veterinary recommendations, pain scales, and most importantly, she opens the conversation about your pet's bucket list and guides readers on options for saying goodbye.
Here Dr. Gardner provides the same wisdom for pet parents, except focusing on feline-specific needs and challenges. We all want our cats to age comfortably, and this book answers your questions and provides practical tips.
Enrichment / Toys
Fill these Toppls with fresh dog food (or try a yogurt/pumpkin snack with apples), then pop it in the freezer. Give these to your dog for mealtimes, as a positive distraction during veterinary visits, or just for fun! You can even purchase two sizes and fit them together to make it more challenging.
Smear this licki mat with peanut butter, low fat yogurt, canned pumpkin, or wet dog food and place in the freezer. When needed, pull it out, suction it to a smooth surface, and use as a distraction during bath time, nail trims, hind limb exercises, or vet visits.
I love these pupsicles to give dogs an activity to do during the day, and it is especially great for dogs recovering from surgery! Once you finish the pre-made treats, you can use the refillable molds to create your own pupsicles. My dogs like pupsicles made from canned pumpkin, bone broth, and crumbs from the bottom of treat bags.
Mental enrichment activities help young/active dogs stay busy, and they are also critical for older dogs to promote healthy cognition. These treat puzzles come in a variety of challenge levels, depending on your dog's problem solving abilities.
Snuffle mats come in all shapes and sizes. I like this forager bowl for small or older dogs. For those with poor eye sight, the "meadow ponds" option has blue patches that stand out visually. I like that these bowls slow down meal time, provide an outlet for scavenging behavior, have nonslip backings, and can cinch closed for travel.