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Dog Recovering From Surgery

Dog Recovering From Surgery

Your dog has just come out of their surgery, now what? The care that they receive during their recovery will have a large impact on the overall results of the procedure. Here, our White Hall vets offer some insight into how to properly care for your dog during their recovery from veterinary surgery.

Follow the Care Instructions From the Veterinary Surgeon

After your dog's veterinary surgery, both you and your furry friend may feel stressed, especially during the initial days. However, it is crucial to understand how you can take care of your dog and make them more comfortable once they are back home. This will help them get back to their regular routine as quickly as possible.

The veterinary surgeon will have given you instructions on the complete care of your pet during their recovery from surgery. You should follow these instructions exactly as they have been outlined. If you come across any points that you don't understand, be sure to ask for clarification. Even if you forget how to perform a specific instruction once you're home, it's best to call your vet and seek clarification. Your vet is here for you if you have any questions about aftercare or potential concerns for your pet after they undergo surgery.

To ensure your pet's comfort and safety during their recovery at home, here are a few essential tips you can follow.

What to Expect While Your Dog Recovers From General Anesthetic

General anesthetic is a standard part of any veterinary surgery. This helps to ensure that your pet stays comfortable for the duration of their surgical procedure. You may notice that your pet behaves differently for a short while after they get home as the effects of the general anesthetic wear off. Sleepiness and shaking in your dog are normal side effects that will go away with rest. Your pet may also have a temporary decrease in appetite after the anesthetic.

How to Manage Your Dog's Appetite After Surgery

One of the most commonly noted side effects after the general anesthetic is a reduced appetite. To help your dog recover from surgery, try giving them a smaller portion of a light meal like chicken and rice, which is easier for them to digest compared to regular store-bought food. Usually, their appetite should improve within 24 hours after the surgery, and they can gradually switch back to their regular food.

If it's been more than 48 hours and your dog still doesn't want to eat you should reach out to your vet. This loss of appetite could indicate potential pain or infection.

Helping to Minimize Pain After Your Dog's Veterinary Surgery

After your dog's veterinary surgery is complete, the vet may prescribe medications to help manage any pain that they might experience and prevent infection from occurring.

They will explain how to give the medications, the frequency of administration, and the correct dosage. It is important to strictly follow the vet's instructions and seek clarification if you have any doubts to avoid unnecessary pain or side effects during your dog's recovery.

If your dog tends to get anxious or is easily stressed, the vet might also prescribe a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help them stay calm while they heal.

Please remember that human medications aren't typically safe for dogs and that you should never give them without explicit instructions from the vet to do so.

Keeping Your Dog Comfortable During Their Recovery

Once you bring your dog home you should provide them with a safe space away from pets and people where they can rest. By offering your dog a plush and snug bed with ample space to stretch out, you can minimize any potential strain on delicate or bandaged areas of its body.

What to Do if Your Dog Begins Coughing After Surgery

When your dog is given anesthesia, a special tube will be placed to help them breathe. This tube is inserted through the mouth and goes down to the lungs. It allows the dog to get oxygen and other necessary medications while they are under anesthesia. However, this tube can sometimes cause irritation and inflammation, resulting in coughing. Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to relieve this discomfort, and usually, the coughing improves within a week without treatment. 

Keep Your Dog from Moving Around Too Much

You should do what you can to prevent your dog from running, playing and jumping in the time following veterinary surgery. Sudden stretching and jumping can disrupt the healing process and possibly reopen the incision. Luckily, most surgeries won't require complete confinement, like being in a crate all the time, for recovery.

Most pets handle staying indoors for a few days (only going outside for bathroom breaks) quite well. However, it might be challenging to stop your dog from jumping on furniture they like to sleep on or climbing stairs. To prevent these behaviors for a few days, you may need to keep your dog in a safe and comfortable room when you can't directly watch them.

Use Crate-Rest When Needed After Veterinary Surgery

Most surgeries don't require crate rest, but orthopedic surgeries often do. Limiting your dog's movements is important for their recovery. If your vet suggests crate rest after surgery, you can help your dog adjust to it. Here's how:

  • Make sure the crate is big enough for your dog to stand and turn around.
  • Consider getting a larger crate if your dog needs a plastic cone or 'E-Collar' to prevent licking.
  • Ensure there's enough space for food and water dishes in the crate, without risking spills that could soil the bedding and bandages

Caring For Your Pet's Stitches

Many vets now choose to place stitches on the inside of your dog's wound rather than the outside. Inside stitches dissolve as the incision heals. If your dog or cat surgeon uses outside stitches or staples they will typically need to be removed by your vet around 10 - 14 days after surgery. Your vet will let you know which type of stitches were used to close your pet's incision.

Making Sure the Incision Stays Clean

Preventing your dog from biting, chewing, or scratching its bandages or incision site can be challenging. One effective solution is a plastic cone-shaped Elizabethan collar, which comes in hard and softer versions. This collar effectively stops your dog from licking its wound.

While most dogs adapt to wearing a cone collar fairly quickly, some may have difficulties adjusting. In such cases, you can explore alternative options that are recommended by your vet. These options include donut-style collars or post-op medical pet shirts, which are effective and less bulky alternatives.

Make Sure That the Bandanges Stay Dry

To help your dog's incision heal quickly, it's important to keep the bandages dry at all times. When your dog goes outside, remember to cover the bandages with a plastic bag or cling wrap to shield them from the damp grass.  

As soon as your pet comes back inside, remove the plastic covering from the bandage. Leaving the plastic over the bandage can cause sweat to accumulate and result in an infection.

Attend the Follow-Up Veterinary Visit

The follow-up appointment allows your vet 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. Our veterinary hospitals have been trained in dressing wounds correctly. Bringing your dog in for a follow-up appointment allows your team of veterinary to change your pet's bandages properly to help keep your dog's healing process on track.

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.

Is your dog showing signs of possible complications? Please contact Hunter's Animal Hospital right away to have your dog examined.

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