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Helping Your Dog Recover After Surgery

After your pet undergoes a surgical procedure, it is important to continue providing care during their recovery for the best possible outcome. Our Babcock Ranch veterinarians have shared some helpful tips and advice on how to assist your dog in their recovery process.

How can you help your dog recover after surgery? 

The first few hours and days after your dog undergo veterinary surgery can be stressful. You want to ensure that your furry friend heals properly without any complications. Therefore, it's crucial to understand how to care for your dog and make them feel comfortable once they return home. This will help them get back to their routine as quickly as possible.

Once your dog is out of surgery, the vet will meet with you and provide you with instructions for aftercare. It's important to follow these instructions precisely as they are outlined. Don't hesitate to ask for clarification if you have any questions or concerns about the instructions. 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 to help you if you have questions about aftercare or potential concerns for your pet after surgery.

There are some tips and advice you can follow to help you and your dog during this recovery period:

What can you expect while your dog recovers from the anesthetic?

Your dog will have been put under general anesthesia for their 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 general anesthetic effects wear off. If your dog is shaking or sleepy after their surgery, they likely need more rest.

What if your dog won't eat after surgery?

After surgery, one of the main reasons why a dog may not eat is due to the anesthesia used during the procedure. To aid your dog's recovery, starting with a smaller portion of a light meal, such as chicken and rice, is recommended, making it easier for their digestive system to process than regular store-bought food. Normally, their appetite should improve within 24 hours after the surgery, and gradually, they can switch back to their regular food.

You should contact your veterinarian if your dog still refuses to eat 24 hours after surgery. Although it may not be a severe issue, it is crucial to rule out any infections.

What are some ways to reduce pain in dogs after surgery?

After your dog undergoes veterinary surgery, the veterinarian may prescribe medications to manage any pain and prevent infections from occurring. The veterinarian will explain the dosage and frequency of the prescription medication that your dog needs.

It is crucial to strictly follow the instructions and seek clarification if you have any doubts to avoid unnecessary pain or side effects during your dog's recovery. If your dog gets anxious or stressed easily, the veterinarian may prescribe a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help them stay calm while healing. It is never safe to give your dog human medications as they can be fatal.

How can you make your dog comfortable after their veterinary surgery?

When you are back home with your dog you should let them get settled in a quiet part of the home away from both people and pets. 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.

Is your dog coughing while recovering 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. 

What are some ways to prevent jumping and other excessive activity?

One thing to keep in mind is that your dog should not spend any time running or jumping after they've had veterinary surgery. Sudden stretching and jumping can disrupt healing and possibly reopen the incision. Luckily, most surgeries won't require complete confinement, like being in a crate all the time, for recovery.

Your dog will do just fine with spending a few days inside, only leaving the house for bathroom breaks. However, stopping your dog from jumping on furniture they like to sleep on or climbing stairs might be challenging. 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.

Using Crate Rest For Your Dog 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 crate rest is deemed necessary, you can help your dog transition comfortably in a few ways. 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.

Tips & Advice For Caring For Your Dog After Surgery

Watch the Stitches

Nowadays, many veterinarians prefer to use internal stitches to close your pet's wound instead of external stitches. The internal stitches dissolve as the incision heals, eliminating the need for removal. However, if external stitches or staples are used, they will typically require removal by your vet after 10-14 days of surgery. Your vet will inform you which type of stitches were used to close your pet's incision.

Keep the Wound Clean

Getting your dog to leave the bandages and incisions alone can be tough. 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 your vet recommends. These options include donut-style collars or post-op medical pet shirts, which are effective and less bulky alternatives.

Ensure Bandages are Always Dry

Keeping the bandage dry is crucial to the healing process after surgery. Remember to cover the bandages with a plastic bag or cling wrap when your dog goes outside to shield them from the damp grass.  

When your pet returns inside, remove the plastic covering from the bandage. Leaving the plastic over the bandage can cause sweat to accumulate, resulting in an infection.

Check-in With Your Vets & Bring Your Dog to Their Follow-up

It is important to schedule follow-up visits with your vet after your dog's surgery to ensure your pup is recovering well and to identify any potential concerns. Additionally, it is crucial to change your dog's bandages at the right time to avoid pressure sores and maintain proper blood supply to the affected area.

Our veterinary hospitals have trained professionals who can dress your pet's wounds correctly. By bringing your dog for a follow-up appointment, your veterinary team can properly change your pet's bandages and provide the necessary care to 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.

Do you have any questions or concerns about your dog's surgery recovery? Please contact Animal Hospital at Babcock right away to speak with our team.

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