Following your pet's surgery, knowing how to properly care for your pet can help get them back on their feet as quickly as possible. In today's post, our Maury County vets share some tips on how to care for your pet after surgery.
Follow Your Vet's Post-Op Instructions
Surgery can be a stressful time for pet parents and pets alike, but knowing how to look after your pet following surgery is important for helping your animal get back to their normal, active, lifestyle.
No matter which type of surgery your pet 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.
Nonetheless, there are a few basic tips that can help you to keep your pet safe and comfortable while they recover and get back to normal.
Feeding Your pet After Surgery
A general anesthetic could cause your pet to feel a little queasy, and lose their appetite. When it's time to feed your pet after surgery try offering your pet a light meal (1/4 or 1/2 of a regular meal) such as chicken and rice which can be easier to digest than regular store-bought pet 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.
That said if your pet'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 pet's post-surgery pain. If you are unsure about any of the instructions ask your vet to clarify.
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 pet 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.
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.
Restricting Your Pet's Movement
Regardless of why your pet is having surgery, it is likely that your vet will recommend limiting your pet's activities and movement for some time following the operation. Sudden stretching and jumping movements 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 pet from jumping up on furniture that they love to sleep on, or climbing stairs. Preventing these behaviors for a few days may require confining your pet to a safe and comfortable room when you are unable to supervise them directly.
Caring for Your Pet's Incision Site
It can be challenging to prevent your pet from biting, chewing, or scratching at their bandages or incision site. A plastic cone-shaped Elizabethan collar is an effective way to prevent your pet from reaching the wound. Pets can often adjust to wearing a cone collar within a couple of hours, but if your pet is struggling to get used to wearing a cone, there are other options available.
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 pet's wound which dissolve as the incision heals. Your vet will let you know which type of stitches were used to close your pet's incision.
Regardless of which type of stitches your veterinary surgeon uses, you will still need to prevent your pet from licking the wound to prevent infection and allow the wound to heal.
Your Pet's Bandages
Keeping bandages dry at all times is another key element of helping your pet's incision heal quickly. Whenever your pet 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.
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, contact an emergency vet immediately.
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).