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Dog Recovering from Surgery

While the procedure is the main focus of surgery, the care once your pup is back home is equally important. Today, our Turlock vets share some important information about dogs recovering from surgery, how to make recovery a success and ways to reduce pain.

How can you help your dog to recover after they've had surgery? 

The first few hours and days after your dog has veterinary surgery can be stressful. After all, you want to ensure they heal without any issues. Understanding how you can care for your dog and make them more comfortable once they return home is crucial. 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 necessary care instructions. You should follow these instructions exactly as they have been outlined. 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 at home, it's best to call your vet and seek clarification. Your vet is here 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 both 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 the 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. If your dog is shaking or sleepy after their surgery, then they likely just need more rest.

How to Tell That Your Dog is in Pain After Surgery

There are certain signs of pain that you can watch for after your dog is home from surgery. They can be subtle like your dog isn't hungry and sleeping more than usual, or they may be limping and vocalizing. Some pain while they begin to recover is normal, but if they appear to be in a lot of pain or aren't improving, you should speak with your vet.

My Dog Won't Eat After Surgery

One of the main reasons dogs don't eat after surgery is the anesthetic used. To help your dog recover from surgery, try giving them a smaller portion of a light meal like chicken and rice, which is easier to digest than 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 your dog is still not eating 24 hours after surgery, you should contact your vet. While this may not be concerning, it will be important to rule out any infections.

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

After your dog's veterinary surgery, the vet may prescribe medications to help manage any pain they might experience and prevent infection.

Your vet will explain the dosage and frequency of any prescription medication that your dog needs. 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.

You should never, under any circumstances, give your dog human medications. These can be fatal for dogs.

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.

My Dog is Coughing After Having 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. 

How to Prevent Your Dog From Jumping

One thing to keep in mind is that your dog should not run or jump after 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 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:

  • Ensure 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 to Care For Your Dog Once They Are Home After Surgery

Monitor the Stitches

Many vets now place stitches on the inside of your dog's wound rather than the outside. 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.

Ensure the Wound Stays Clean

Getting your dog to leave the bandages and incisions alone can be tough. One effective solution is a cone-shaped Elizabethan collar, available 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 recommended by your vet. These options include donut-style collars or post-op medical pet shirts, which are effective and less bulky alternatives.

Keep Bandages 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

Routine follow-up visits a week or two after your dog's surgery can help your vet to note any potential concerns and to ensure that your pup is recovering well.

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 veterinary team 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.

Are you concerned about your dog's progress during recovery? Please contact Community Veterinary Clinic right away to speak with our team.

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Community Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Turlock companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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