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How can I help my dog recover after surgery?

How can I help my dog recover after surgery?

Learn essential tips from our veterinarians at Mount Vernon on how to take care of your dog after surgery. It is necessary to provide proper care for your furry friend so that they can recover quickly and return to their active, normal life.

Follow Your Vet's Post-Op Instructions

After your dog goes through surgery, both you and your furry friend may feel stressed, especially in the initial days. It's important to understand how to take care of your dog and make them more comfortable once they're back home, so they can get back to their regular routine as quickly as possible.

Your vet, veterinary surgeon, or nurse will provide you with clear and specific instructions on how to care for your pet when they come home. It's crucial to follow these instructions carefully. If you don't understand any points, ask for clarification. Call your vet and seek clarification if you forget how to perform a specific instruction.

Your veterinary team is there to answer any questions you have about the post-surgery instructions. To ensure your pet's comfort and safety during their home recovery, here are some essential tips to follow.

After-Effects of General Anesthetic

When undergoing veterinary surgeries, it is common for pets to require a general anesthetic. This ensures that they are unconscious throughout the procedure and do not experience any discomfort. However, it may take a while for the effects of the anesthetic to wear off after the surgery. It is normal for your dog to feel sleepy and experience shaking, but these side effects will disappear with some rest. Additionally, your pet may experience a temporary decrease in appetite as a result of the anesthetic.

Feeding Your Dog After Surgery

After receiving anesthesia, your dog may experience nausea and a lack of interest in food. To facilitate their recovery from surgery, consider providing them with a lighter meal like chicken and rice, which is easier to digest than regular store-bought food. Typically, their appetite should improve within 24 hours post-surgery, and you can slowly transition back to their regular diet.

If you notice that your dog is still not eating after 48 hours, it is crucial to reach out to your veterinary surgeon or veterinarian, as this could be a sign of underlying pain or infection.

Managing Your Dog's Pain After Surgery

A veterinary professional will assess the prescribed medications to ensure your dog's post-surgery pain is managed effectively. They will provide detailed instructions on how to administer the medications, including the frequency and correct dosage. It's essential to follow these instructions carefully and ask for clarification if needed to avoid any unnecessary pain or side effects during your dog's recovery.

After surgery, pets usually receive pain medications and antibiotics to relieve post-operative discomfort and prevent infection. If your dog is prone to anxiety or stress, the vet may recommend a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help them stay calm during their healing process.

Remember, it's crucial to consult your veterinarian before giving your pet any human medications as many drugs that are safe for us can be harmful to dogs.

How to Keep Your Dog Comfortable When They Get Home

After undergoing surgery, it's crucial to provide your pet with a calm and cozy spot for resting, away from kids and other animals. 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.

If Your Dog is Coughing After Surgery

When a dog is administered anesthesia, a breathing aid tube will be placed to ensure they receive sufficient oxygen and medication. The tube is inserted through the mouth and travels down to the lungs. However, at times, the tube may cause irritation and inflammation, leading to coughing. Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to alleviate this discomfort. In most cases, the coughing improves within a week without treatment.

Restricting Your Pet's Movement

After your dog has surgery, your vet will suggest limiting your pup's activities and movement for a while. 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.

Helping Your Dog When Cage-Rest (Crate-Rest) is Necessary

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

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 vet 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.

Caring for Your Pet's Incision Site

Preventing your dog from biting, chewing, or scratching its bandages or incision site can be challenging. One effective solution is using a plastic cone-shaped Elizabethan collar, which comes in both 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.

Keep Your Pet's Bandages Dry

To help your dog's incision heal quickly, it's important to keep the bandages dry at all times. Remember to cover the bandages with a plastic bag or cling wrap when your dog goes outside 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.

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

It's important to schedule a follow-up appointment with your vet to ensure your pet's recovery is going smoothly and to catch any potential infections before they become serious. Additionally, it's crucial to not leave your dog's bandages on for too long after the procedure. Failure to change them at the appropriate time could result in pressure sores or impact blood supply.

Our veterinary hospitals are well-versed in dressing wounds properly, and bringing your dog in for a follow-up appointment will allow our team to change their bandages effectively and promote a successful healing process.

Do you have concerns about your dog's recovery from a recent surgery? Please contact Northwest Veterinary Clinic of Mount Vernon today for advice.

New Patients Welcome

Northwest Veterinary Clinic of Mount Vernon is accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about the health of Mount Vernon cats, dogs, and horses. Get in touch today to book your animal's first appointment.

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