Understanding how to properly care for your pet after they have undergone an operation is key to helping them get back to normal as quickly as possible and without complications. Here our Rock Hill veterinary team will walk you through some tips and tricks for caring for your beloved pet after surgery.
Surgery can be a stressful time both for you and your pet. But, knowing how to care for your companion after they have undergone an operation is very important to help them return to their normal, active, healthy and happy lifestyle.
Regardless of what kind of surgery your pet has undergone, your vet or veterinary surgeon will ensure that you have the instructions you need to best care for your pet after the procedure is over. Make sure that you follow you vet's instructions, often there are very specific and important instructions you will receive related to the surgery your pet is having done.
Here a few basic tip and tricks to keep in mind regardless of the operation to keep your pet, comfortable, safe, and health while they recover to their normal self.
What to Expect After Surgery
Most surgery will require your pet to be under general anesthetic. General anesthetic renders your pet unconscious and prevents them from feeling pain for the duration of the surgery. However, it can take a little while for the anesthetic to wear off. Your pet may be left feeling a bit woozy or shaky on their feet. These side effects are perfectly normal and should disappear with a little rest.
You may also notice more subdued behavior than usual in your pet, as well as bruising, soreness, and a temporary lack of appetite.
Feeding Your Pet After Surgery
General anesthetic can cause your pet to feel a bit queasy and reduce their appetite after surgery. When it's time to feed your pet, a light meal is best rather than regular store bought foods. Your pet should have their appetite return within 24 hours of their surgery and should then return to their regular diet. If you notice your pet's appetite doesn't return within 48 hours, you should contact your veterinary surgeon for advice. This could be an indicator of fever or pain.
Also, make an effort to feed your pet an extra-nutritious diet as they recover form their operation. A nutritious diet is always important, but after a surgery it is a key part of encouraging a speedy recovery. Speak to your vet about the best food to provide your pet after their operation. They will be able to recommend a food with all the key ingredients and nutrients your pet will need.. They will also be able to help you find the right portions to help you pet keep a healthy weight as well.
Managing Your Pet's Pain after Surgery
After your pet's operation, your veterinary surgeon, vet, or veterinary nurse will take time to site down with you and explain the medications which have been prescribed to manage your pet's pain, the required dosage, and how often it should be administered. It is very important that you follow your vet's instructions to prevent any unnecessary pain in your beloved pet without causing side-effects. While your pet will be sore around their incision site, they might also be experiencing discomfort all over their body during the internal healing process.
The most commonly prescribed medications for pets after surgery are antibiotics to prevent infection and pain medication to relieve post-op discomfort. If your pet is anxious or high-strung, your vet may also prescribe a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help keep them calm as they heal.
Home remedies aren't generally recommended. If there is a remedy you would like to use to try and help your pet feel better, be sure to ask your vet if its ingredients are liable to cause any negative effects in your pet. Never give any human medications to your pet without consulting with your veterinarian beforehand. That can be very dangerous or even lethal to your treasured companion.
Keep your pet comfortable
After your pet has had surgery, it is important for you to give them a comfortable, quiet and safe place to rest and recover. Ideally this will be far away from children or other pets. Make sure your pet has plenty of space to curl up so their incision site isn't stretched or pulled. Allowing them to stretch out is key so no extra pressure is being placed on sensitive or bandaged parts of their body. Doing this may help your pet feel better after their operation and potentially even speed up their recovery!
Limiting Movement & Confinement
Regardless of the surgery your pet has undergone, it is likely that your vet with advise you to limit their movement and activity during their recover. Sudden stretching movements can interfere with the healing process and could even reopen their incision!
Thankfully, the majority of incisions don't require complete confinement to aid in their recovery. And most pets cope well with being kept indoors for a few days if they're used to being outside - especially as their energy levels will be a bit lower during recovery. Make sure that your pet doesn't undertake any strenuous activity including climbing furniture or cages, or walking up and down stairs. In the first few days of recovery you will have to be extra vigilant to prevent these kinds of behaviors.
There are some cases, however, that will require your strictly limiting your pet's movement for a safe and speedy recovery. If your vet recommends "cage rest" for your pet, there are ways to help them adjust to their restricted movement. Make sure their crate or cage is large enough for them to stand in and turn around. If a plastic cone or other preventative measure for licking or biting is required, make sure you account for that when considering your cage size. It is also key to make sure there is room for food and water dishes too, without risking spills which could wet or soil your pet's bandages.
Caring for Your Pet's Incision Site
It can be hard to keep your pet from fiddling, biting, or licking their incision site or bandages. Sometime plastic cone collars are used to prevent your companion from reach their wound. It will otfen take them a couple hour to adjust to the collar, but after that it should not present any issues. Speak to your vet about available options to prevent your pet from messing around with their wounds and allowing them to heal.
Stitches will typically be removed 10 - 14 days after surgery, although many vets have stopped using external skin sutures, and prefer to use stitches placed inside of your pet's wound which simply dissolve as the incision heals. Regardless of which type of stitches your pet's surgeon uses, you will still need to prevent them from licking the wound in order to prevent infection and allow the wound to heal.
Keeping bandages dry at all times is another key element of helping your pet's incision heal quickly. If your pet needs to go outside, make sure that the bandages are covered with a plastic bag or cling wrap to protect them from damp or wet grass. Remember to 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.
Don't Skip the Follow-Up Appointment
Follow up appointments give your vet an opportunity to check in on your pet's recovery progress and monitor them for signs of infection or complications before they become more serious. It is essential that your pet's bandages aren't left on for too long after thier surgery as well. Leaving bandages on for too long can lead to pressure sores or even affect your pet's blood supply to the bandaged area. The professionals at your pet's veterinary hospital have been trained in dressing wounds correctly. When it comes to keeping your pet's healing process on-track, it's best to let the professionals handle bandage changes.
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, make an appointment with your vet immediately.
Keeping Your Companion Happy While They Recover
Pets will often not understand that they are in recovery from a surgery and can become frustrated at the reduced level of activity you allow them. It is important that you give your pet reassurance in other ways.
Spending quality time with your pet and keeping them stimulated with gentle play or games which don't require stretching or jumping is an excellent way to engage and entertain your pet.
Treats may also perk them up, but keep in mind that with reduced activity, they won't burn the increased calorie count of a treat as well as they normally would.
Recovery Times For Pets After Surgery
In most cases, soft tissue operations such as spaying, neutering or abdominal surgery recover more quickly than procedures involving the bones, joints and ligaments. Many soft tissue operations have 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 can take much longer, and are usually around 80% healed after about 8 - 12 weeks, although it can take 4, 5, or even 6 months to recover completely return to normal following surgeries such as those to repair a torn cruciate ligament (ACL).
Try to remember that while you might feel bad about having to limit your play and engagement with your pet during this time, our furry companions typically bounce back more quickly from surgery than people do. My following your vet's instructions diligently, yu will have your pet back to their playful and healthy self in no time!
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.