If you’re not sure when to use a warm compress or cold pack for pets, fear not! These easy tips for hot and cold therapy for Tripawds will clear up the confusion.
Can You Use Heat and Ice on Dogs and Cats? Yes!
Applying a warm compress or cold pack helps injured or recovering pets and people too. This therapy is especially helpful during amputation recovery. What’s so special about cold or heat?
- Cold constricts blood vessels. This stops inflammation and pain to help injured tissues heal.
- Warm, most heat loosens tight muscle fibers. This increases blood flow and relaxes tense muscles. Heat can also draw out seroma fluid and other infectious body fluids.
You can buy a hot / cold pack for pets.
Or you can make your own hot and cold pack.
Make a DIY ice pack with crushed ice or frozen peas.
Or create a DIY warm compress. Get a small towel and soak it in warm water. Wrap a dry towel over it, then use on your pet.
If the weather is warm, you might want to try a self-cooling bed for pets.
REMEMBER: You don’t want to use super hot or super cold on a pet. Be safe and place a fabric layer between the hot or cold pack and your pet’s body.
Don’t Start Until You Know Your Tripawd’s Injury Stage
To correctly use warm compress and ice packs for cats and dogs, first you need to know what stage of “injury” your pet is in. Which stage best describes your three-legged dog or cat?
- Acute Stage: the 24 hours following any surgery or injury.
- Sub Acute Stage: 24-72 hours after surgery or injury.
- Chronic Stage: 72 hours after surgery or injury.
Not sure what injury stage your Tripawd is in? Ask your vet! They can tell you when it’s safe to apply a warm or cold compress to the injury site.
Next, Introduce Hot and Cold Packs Two to Three Days After Surgery or Injury
If your pet is at the end of the Sub Acute Stage (at least 72 hours) during amputation recovery, use heat longer than you use cold. Here’s how.
- First, apply heat for 3 minutes.
- Next, apply cold for 2 minutes.
Then, at Day Four and After, Apply Ice / Heat / Ice
Around day four, you can encourage healing by spending longer rotations between heat and ice packs for dogs and cats. Switch back and forth between them as follows:
- Apply ice for 5 minutes
- Then, apply heat for 5 minutes
- End with ice for 5 minutes.
More Ways to Apply Hot and Cold Compresses to Your Pet
Warm Compress and Cold Pack Safety for Dogs and Cats
- Keep a towel between the warm or cold therapy pack and fur.
- Don’t apply heat until acute pain, swelling, and redness starts going away.
- Test heat on your wrist before application.
- Always end with cold
Not all animals are keen on heat and cold therapy packs. Some love them. Some don’t. Follow these warm compress and cold packs for dogs and cats carefully. Go slow when you introduce this therapy, especially during amputation recovery.
Watch for signs that your pet hates warm or cold, like nudging your hand, or pulling away. If they’re trying to tell you to stop, go ahead and just try again later. It may take several brief attempts of just a few minutes each, and lots of treats to0, until they enjoy it.