How is life with a pet after discectomy?

I found just on discussion on this matter and little developed, so I thought I could give this one more shot.

Since I live alone, I thought having a dog would be good for me. However, I had a discectomy last month, my first surgery ever. Now I feel very discouraged.

It would be really good to hear from people who does own a pet, if this arrangement can work and how. What advices can you give people? Should people with back problem own a pet?

Is it too risky? How do you clean the mess when you they poop on the street? How do you feed them? How do you play with them?

For the record, I am able to pay someone to come here once a day (from Monday to Friday) to clean the mess. However, as I told you in the lines above, I have lots of concerns.



  • Hi yukioandre

    I owned a cat when my back problem escalated to severe herniation and discectomy.  I had some help with emptying the litter tray but there were times when I had to feed her and I struggled with that.  Sometimes I could pick up her food bowl with my handy helper, which work well when the bowl was empty.  It was not so easy to put down.

    I would think a dog is a much bigger commitment because of the walking on the lead and the potential problem of pulling etc, If bothered by another dog.

    And as you say to clear up when out may cause some difficulties.

    I am sure you will get other replies from dog owners but I know there were definite benefits to my mental health to have a cat, to sit beside me and purr and also show me affection when I was really down.  She seemed to know when I was having a bad day and stayed very close.


  • What are your limitations? And what breed of dog/age are you thinking of? I have not yet gone for my discectomy yet. It is scheduled for this upcoming week however I have a dog. We got her well before i herniated my back. It has been so very difficult to do anything with her and I feel super guilty. She's an Australian Shepherd named Cora. We were warned numerous times before we got her how hyper and needy her breed is. It wasn't a big deal for us. I worked from home and had every intention on keeping her active along with me. I would walk her every day after I returned from the gym and on days off my fiance and I took her hiking or brought her to his parents house to play with their dogs. She had an outlet for her energy every day. I've been with her 24/7 pretty much since day one. She just turned a year old. Since ive been bed ridden, all I can do right now is let her outside to go potty and put food in her bowl when needed. I can't play with her like I used to, I can't go for walks or car rides, no hiking. No trips to get ice cream (she gets a doggy cone). I can't be the pet mommy that I was before and it kills me. She lays by my side all day long. She sleeps a lot because she has nothing else to do. Almost every day she tears something up downstairs when my fiance isn't home and I'm mostly unaware of it being stuck in bed. She's bored and trying to find some sort of outlet to keep busy so I can't blame her. I hate it. I feel so guilty. My fiance works long hours and drives 2-3 hours a day to and from work. When he gets home he makes me dinner and helps take care of me. He hasn't had much time to do extra things with her. I can tell she needs to let her energy go. When people come over like my mom, she jumps all over her a refuses to listen to me because she's so excited and hyper. Thankfully my mom doesn't care but I can't hold her back and control her if it was someone who did care. It's a big decision. I would definitely take into account the breed of dog and their energy level. I plan on someday getting back to where I was and making it all up to my dear Cora but for now I can tell she misses her walks, hikes, car rides and attention. 

  • advertisement
  • Hey Gabriella, I was thinking about getting a small one, a Basset Hound for instance. His energy level is not that high. My back problem is a herniated disc on L4-L5, so I had to have a discectomy on April this year. I'm still not fully recovered. Hopefully, after mine Rhizetomy next month I will have another two months off work and finally get my routine back in november.

  • waltfwaltf Austin, TXPosts: 57
    edited 08/27/2017 - 7:21 AM

    If all goes well with your discectomy then having a pet should be fine. As Aj stated, the pulling on a leash could be an issue with a strong dog, especially too early after surgery.

    The real question is how long after surgery, and that is really going to be an individual kind of thing, as well as type of surgery. As an example someone quick to recover and a having a microdiscectomy would probably be able to handle the responsibilities of a medium size dog long before someone that typically is slow to recover and who had a multi-level fusion.

    I am 8 days post an L3-L4 fusion with a revision L4-L5 fusion and just took my medium sized dog (who can pull very hard, she is very muscular) for a short walk, she was scared to go out with all the wind and rain we are getting from TS Harvey.  But we have trained Daisy well and a few sharp commands kept her inline.  My point is proper training can help a lot.

    Everyone's situation is unique, but having spinal surgery should not preclude enjoying a pet, just approach it wisely!

  • @yukioandre my hernia is the same L4-L5. I mean honestly listen to your body. If you feel that you need more time to heal before taking on that responsibility then definitely take the time to heal. There's nothing wrong with making sure you're fully prepared. If you think you can do it now then go for it, but I would suggest maybe seeing if a friend or family member can help you out just in case something pops up. I know I wouldn't be able to care for my dog right now without my fiance helping me also, but I agree with Walt that every case  is different.

    Please keep us posted on how it all works out :)

  • advertisement
  • I am now 3.5 months post-discectomy, and have been OK taking care of two dogs some of the time.  I've started walking them again this month - they still tend to pull...  I've been on my own with them for the past week, and has gone OK.  Except for dog that insists on climbing over me to sleep in twin bed with me...

    I'm OK squatting down to clean up during a walk, use a rake/scoop affair to clean the backyard.

    Just note that Beagles tend to be loud - was not aware of this before we adopted the pair that we have...

    I second the use of the grabber to feed them.  Mine is strong enough that I could put bowls back down as well as pick them up.  There are other things you can do, like having someone put in a doggy door if you have a fenced-in backyard, which will cut down on getting up and down.

    Big commitment, you may want to consider waiting until fully (or at least mostly) healed before taking the plunge.  Just my $.02.

  • Honestly looking after a pet is really, really difficult after a discetomy, I'm extremely lucky my parents made me come back home for the next ten weeks with my kitten and my dog so they could look after me. My kitten is four months old and my dog is a four year old purebred German Pointer (I think they're ranked the most energetic breed in the world?) Anyway even before surgery I couldn't feed my kitten let alone my dog!! I couldn't fill his water or food up (even with a gripper pole) or even pick him up (he's still very light). My parents have had to do everything, down to collecting his dead birds of the carpet to cleaning the kitty litter. I can't risk being outside with my dog for too long in case he knocks me over haha. 

    I would have been absolutely lost without my parents help and believe doing this myself will/would hinder my recovery or cause a reherniation almost 100%. 

  • Four days post L4/L5 microdiscectomy and I can't pet my kitties when they come rubbing their cute little heads around my legs. Breaks my heart a bit but I am up and about and free from pain which I guess is more important. Thank godness for my husband as I can't change litter trays or replace food and water them at all. 

Sign In or Join Us to comment.