If your dog is scheduled for surgery or recently had surgery then you may have some questions about what happens after they get home. Here, our Cumming vets share some advice about caring for your dog while they are recovering from surgery and what to expect during this time.
Your dog's vet will give you clear instructions – follow them
After your dog's veterinary 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. By following the instructions given by the vet you can help to ensure that your dog heals as quickly as possible with a reduced risk of complications.
The vet will give you these instructions while you are at the vet clinic. If you come across any points that you don't understand, be sure to ask for clarification. 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 for you if you have any questions about aftercare or potential concerns for your pet after they undergo surgery.
Here are some helpful tips for caring for your dog while they recover from veterinary surgery.
What will your dog be like while recovering from general anesthetic?
When a dog has veterinary surgery they will be put under veterinary anesthetic. 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 effects of the general anesthetic wear off. 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.
What if your dog won't eat after surgery?
A reduced appetite is to be expected when a dog comes out of veterinary surgery. To help your dog recover from surgery, try giving them a smaller portion of a light meal like chicken and rice, which is easier for them to digest compared to regular store-bought food. Usually, their appetite should improve within 24 hours after the surgery, and they can gradually switch back to their regular food.
If it's been more than 48 hours and your dog still doesn't want to eat you should reach out to your vet. A loss of appetite over a longer period of time can mean that your dog is experiencing complications that should be addressed as soon as possible.
How can you relieve your dog's pain from surgery?
After your dog's veterinary surgery is complete, the vet may prescribe medications to help manage any pain that they might experience and prevent infection from occurring.
They will explain how to give the medications, the frequency of administration, and the correct dosage. It is important to strictly follow the vet's instructions and seek clarification if you have any doubts to avoid unnecessary pain or side effects during your dog's recovery.
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.
Never, under any circumstances, should you give your dog human medications unless directly told to do so by your vet.
What can you do to keep your dog comfortable?
You should make an effort to provide your dog with a space in a quiet area away from others in the home until they are healed. 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.
What to do if your dog develops a cough after surgery?
When a dog is placed under anesthesia, they will need the assistance of a tube to 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.
How can you keep your dog from moving around?
You should do what you can to prevent your dog from running, playing and jumping in the time following veterinary surgery. 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.
Generally, your dog shouldn't have a problem with staying inside for a few days, only going out to use the bathroom. 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.
How can crate rest help after veterinary surgery?
If your dog had orthopedic surgery then the vet will likely have recommended crate rest for your pup. 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
How should you care for the stitches?
While some stitches are internal there may be times when the vet uses external stitches. Inside stitches dissolve as the incision heals. If your dog or cat surgeon 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.
What are some ways to care for the incision?
Preventing your dog from biting, chewing, or scratching its bandages or incision site can be challenging. 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 are recommended by your vet. These options include donut-style collars or post-op medical pet shirts, which are effective and less bulky alternatives.
Why is it important to keep your dog's bandages dry and clean?
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 Miss Your Dog's Follow-Up Vet Visit
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 procedure. Not changing the bandages at the right time could lead to pressure sores or even affect the blood supply to the area. Our veterinary hospitals have been trained in dressing wounds correctly. Bringing your dog in for a follow-up appointment allows your team of veterinary 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.