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Helping Your Dog Recover After Surgery

Helping Your Dog Recover After Surgery

Knowing how to care for your pet properly after surgery can help you to get your dog back to normal as quickly as possible, without complications. In today's blog, our Gold Canyon vets share a few tips on how to care for your dog following surgery.

Follow Your Vet's Post-Op Instructions

No matter which type of surgery your dog is scheduled for, your specialist, vet or veterinary surgeon will be sure to provide you with clear and specific instructions on how to care for your pet following the operation. Be sure to follow your vet's instructions carefully, there may be very specific and important instructions relating to the type of surgery your pet has had. Knowing how to look after your dog following surgery is important for helping your animal get back to their normal, active, lifestyle.

Here are a few basic tips that can help you to keep your dog safe and comfortable while they recover. 

What to Expect After Surgery

The majority of veterinary surgical procedures require the use of a general anesthetic that will knock out your pet and prevents them from feeling any pain during the procedure. It can take awhile for the effects of general anesthetic to wear off. The lingering effects of general anesthetic may leave your dog feeling a little sleepy, or shaky on their feet. These side effects are normal and with a little rest should disappear very quickly.

A few other side effects that you may notice, include more subdued behavior than usual, appearing as if they are feeling a little bruised or sore, and a temporary lack of appetite.

Feeding Your Dog After Surgery

General anesthetic could cause your dog to feel a little queasy, and lose their appetite. When it's time to feed your dog after surgery try offering your pet a light meal (1/4 or 1/2 of regular meal) such as chicken and rice which can be easier to digest than regular store bought dog food. You can expect your pet to regain their appetite within about 24 hours following surgery, at which time they should gradually return to eating their regular diet.

If your dog's appetite doesn't return within 48 hours contact your vet or veterinary surgeon. Loss of appetite can also indicate pain or infection.

Managing Your Pet's Pain after Surgery

After your pet's operation, a veterinary professional will take the time to explain the medications prescribed to manage your dog's post-surgery pain. They will explain the dose required, how often to give the medications to your pet, and how to administer the medications. It is essential for your pet's health that you follow your vet's instructions in order to effectively prevent any unnecessary pain while your dog recovers, without causing any side effects. If you are unsure about any of the instructions ask your vet to clarify. Your veterinary team want to help you to help your dog recover.

Antibiotics to prevent infection and pain medication to relieve post-op discomfort are the 2 most commonly prescribed medications for pets after surgery. If your dog is anxious or high-strung your vet may also prescribe a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help keep them calm while they are healing.

Home remedies aren't recommended, however if there is a remedy that you would like to use to help your pet feel better, call your vet to ask if it is safe for your dog. Never give human medications to your pet without consulting your veterinarian first. Many drugs that can help humans to feel better are toxic to dogs.

Keeping Your Dog Comfortable When They Get Home

After your dog has had surgery it is important to provide them with a comfortable and quiet place to rest, away from children and other pets. If your dog typically curls up on a small bed to sleep you may want to invest in a larger bed so that the incision site isn't pulled. Allowing your dog to stretch out, so there’s no extra pressure on any bandaged or sensitive parts of their body, may help your dog to feel better after surgery and may even help them to recover more quickly.

Restricting Your Pet's Movement

Regardless of why your pet is having surgery, it is likely that your vet will recommend limiting your dog's activities and movement for a period of time following the operation. Stretching and jumping can interfere with the healing process and may even cause the incision to reopen.

Most surgeries fortunately will not require significant confinement such as complete ‘crate-rest’ to aid in recovery, and most pets cope well with being kept indoors for a few days (with only essential trips outside for potty breaks). Often, a more difficult task is preventing your dog from jumping up on the furniture or climbing stairs. Preventing these behaviors for a few days may require confining your dog to a safe and comfortable room when you are unable to supervise them directly.

Helping Your Dog When Cage-Rest is Required

Orthopedic surgeries often require strictly limiting your dog’s movements for a good recovery. If your vet recommends crate rest for your dog following surgery, there are ways to help your dog adjust to this strict confinement and help them to get more comfortable with spending long periods of time in a crate.

Make sure that your dog's crate is big enough to allow your dog to stand up and turn around. If your dog requires a plastic cone or 'E-Collar' to prevent licking, you may need to purchase a larger crate for your dog to recover in. You will also need to ensure that there is plenty of room for food and water dishes, without risking spills that can cause your dog's bedding and bandages to become soiled and wet.

Caring for Your Dog's Incision Site

It can be challenging to prevent your dog from biting, chewing or scratching at their bandages or incision site. A plastic cone-shaped Elizabethan-collar (available in hard and softer versions) is an effective way to prevent your dog from reaching the wound. If your dog is struggling to get used to wearing a cone, there are other options available. Speak to your vet about effective and less cumbersome options such as donut-style collars, or post-surgery jumpsuits (medical pet-shirts).

Your Dog's Stitches

Stitches or staples will typically be removed by your vet around 10 - 14 days after surgery. Depending on the surgery so vets may use stitches placed inside of your dog's wound which dissolve as the incision heals. Regardless of which type of stitches your veterinary surgeon uses, you will still need to prevent your dog from licking the wound in order to prevent infection and allow the wound to heal.

Your Dog's Bandages

Keeping bandages dry at all times is another key element of helping your dog's incision heal quickly. Whenever your dog goes outside make sure that the bandages are covered with a plastic bag or cling wrap to protect them from damp or wet grass. Remove the plastic covering as soon as your pet comes back inside. Leaving the plastic over the bandage could cause sweat to collect under the bandage and lead to an infection.

Don't Skip Your Dog's Follow-Up Appointment

Your dog's follow-up appointment gives your vet the opportunity to monitor your pet's progress and check for any signs of infection before it becomes more serious.

It is also essential that your dog's bandages aren't left on for too long following the procedure. Not changing the bandages at the right time could lead to pressure sores or even affect the blood supply to the area. The professionals at your pet's veterinary hospital have been trained in dressing wounds correctly. When it comes to keeping your dog's healing process on-track, it's a good idea to let the professionals handle bandage changes.

Between appointments, if your pet's bandage falls off, or you notice swelling, blood seeping through the bandages, or an unpleasant odor at the incision site, make an appointment with your vet immediately.

Keeping Your Dog Entertained During Recovery

Dog's just don't understand when they are in recovery and are likely to become frustrated at the reduced level of activity, the itchiness of their incision site, or just the overall lack of stimulation following surgery, so it's important that you give your pet stimulation and loving reassurance in other ways.

Keep your dog amused with a rotating selection of gentle games that won't cause any stretching or jumping, such as dog-friendly chew toys or squeaky playthings. Limit the number of toys you offer your dog to one or two items at a time, and switch to a different toy on a regular basis to help prevent boredom.

Treats can be a great way to cheer-up your dog up but keep in mind that your dog's reduced activity level means that they are burning fewer calories. Too many treats can equal too much of a good thing.

Remember that simply taking some time out of your busy day to sit quietly with your dog, stroking their fur and chatting with them calmly, can help your dog stay calm and feel loved. 

Typical Recovery Times For Pets Following Surgery

Soft tissue operations such as spaying, neutering or abdominal surgeries tend to recover more quickly than procedures involving the bones, joints and ligaments. Many soft tissue surgeries have typically healed about 80% after 2-3 weeks, and may be completely healed in about 6 weeks.

On the other hand, surgeries involving bones and ligaments will likely take much longer, and are usually around 80% healed after about 8 - 12 weeks, although it can take as long as 6 months for your pet to recover completely following surgeries such as those to repair a torn cruciate ligament (CCL). 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Worried about your dog's surgery? Do you suspect they aren't recovering as they should? Contact Companion Pet Clinic of Gold Canyon today to go over with our vet the best course of action for the health of your dog.

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Companion Pet Clinic of Gold Canyon is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

(480) 671-1403 Contact Companion Pet Clinic