Discover valuable tips from our vets in Middlesex 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.

Before your dog comes home, you should receive clear and specific instructions from your vet, veterinary surgeon, or nurse on how to care for them. It’s important to follow these instructions carefully. If you come across any points that you don't understand, be sure to ask for clarification. 

Even if you forget a specific instruction once you're home, it's best to call your vet and ask again. 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 recovery at home, here are a few essential tips you can follow.

After-Effects of General Anesthetic

Most veterinary surgeries need a general anesthetic. It makes your pet unconscious, so they won't feel any pain. But it takes time for the effects of the anesthetic to go away after the surgery. 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.

Why won't my dog eat after surgery?

Once your dog receives the anesthesia, they may feel a bit nauseous and lose interest in eating. To help your dog recover from surgery, try giving them a smaller portion of a light meal like chicken and rice. This is easier for them to digest compared to regular store-bought food. Their appetites normally improve within 24 hours after the surgery, and you can gradually switch back to their regular food.

If you observe that your dog's still not eating 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 veterinarian will assess the prescribed medications for your dog's post-surgery pain. They will explain how to give your dog the medications, the frequency of administration, and the correct dosage. It’s important to follow the vet's instructions carefully and ask questions if you have any doubts. This will help avoid unnecessary pain or side effects during your dog's recovery.

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

After surgery, it's crucial to provide your dog 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 their body.

If Your 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. However, this tube can sometimes cause irritation and inflammation, resulting in coughing. Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to relieve this discomfort. Usually, the coughing improves within a week.

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 dogs 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 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 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 veterinarians 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 around 10 - 14 days after surgery. Your vet will let you know which type of stitches they used to close your dog’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 recommended by your veterinarian. These options include donut-style collars or post-op medical pet shirts, which are 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 something like a 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 is also essential that your dog's bandages aren't left on for too long following the surgery. Not changing the bandages at the right time could lead to pressure sores or even affect the blood supply to the area. Bringing your dog in for a follow-up appointment allows our veterinarians 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.

Do you have concerns about your dog's recovery from a recent surgery? Please contact Bound Brook Veterinary Clinic today for advice.