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How can I help my dog recover after surgery?

Discover valuable tips from our vets in Tigard on caring for your dog post-surgery. Ensuring proper care for your furry friend after their surgery is crucial for their swift recovery and a prompt return to their active, normal life. 

Follow Your Vet's Post-Op Instructions

After your dog's 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.

When your pet arrives home, your vet, veterinary surgeon, or nurse will give you clear and explicit instructions on how to care for them. It is critical to properly follow these directions. If there are any issues that you don't understand, make sure to ask for clarification. Even if you forget how to do anything once you get home, it's better to phone your vet and ask for clarification. Your veterinary team is there to address any post-surgery inquiries you may have.

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

After-Effects of General Anesthetic

A general anesthesia is required for the majority of veterinary procedures. It renders your pet unconscious, allowing them to feel no discomfort. However, the effects of the anesthesia take time to wear off following the surgery. Sleepiness and tremor in your dog following surgery are natural side effects that will subside with rest. Following the anesthesia, your pet may experience a brief decrease in appetite.

What if my dog is not eating after surgery?

Your dog may feel sick and lose interest in eating after receiving anesthetic. To aid your dog's recovery after surgery, feed them a smaller portion of a light meal, such as chicken and rice, which is simpler for them to digest than typical store-bought food. Their hunger should return within 24 hours of the surgery, and you can gradually return to their regular diet.

If you observe that your dog still won't ear 48 hours after surgery, it's important to contact your veterinary surgeon or vet. This loss of appetite could indicate potential pain or infection.

Managing Your Dog's Pain After Surgery

A veterinary practitioner will evaluate the drugs recommended for your dog's post-surgery pain. They will explain how to administer the medications, as well as the frequency and quantity. To avoid unnecessary pain or side effects during your dog's recuperation, strictly follow the vet's recommendations and seek explanation if you have any doubts.

After surgery, pets often receive pain medications and antibiotics to alleviate post-operative discomfort and prevent infection. 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.

Remember to always consult your veterinarian before giving your pet any human medications. Many drugs that are safe for us can be harmful to dogs.

How to Keep Your Dog Comfortable When They Get Home

Following surgery, it is critical to provide your pet with a tranquil and cozy place to recuperate away from children and other animals. By providing your dog with a comfortable and comfy bed with plenty of room to stretch out, you can reduce any potential tension on sensitive or bandaged regions of its body.

What if my dog is 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. 

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 adjust quickly to wearing a cone collar, some may struggle. In such instances, you can look into alternative choices indicated by your veterinarian. Donut-style collars or post-op medical pet shirts are useful 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. 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.

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

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's also critical that your dog's bandages don't stay on for too long after the treatment. Failure to change the bandages on time may result in pressure sores or possibly a disruption in the blood supply to the area. Our veterinary hospitals have received wound dressing training. Bringing your dog in for a follow-up appointment allows your veterinary team to properly replace your pet's bandages, which helps keep your dog's healing process on track.

Do you have concerns about your dog's recovery from a recent surgery? Please contact Cascade Veterinary Referral Center today for advice.

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Cascade Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients! Get in touch with us today for information on how to book a specialty appointment for your pet. 

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