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What to Expect While Your Dog Recovers from Surgery

While vets will generally try to use the least invasive treatment option possible, surgical intervention is sometimes necessary. Here, our vets in Brooklyn discuss some ways to help keep your dog comfortable while recovering from veterinary surgery and the importance of following your vet surgeon's instructions.

Follow the Instructions of Your Veterinary Surgeon

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 routine as quickly as possible.

When your pet comes home, you will receive clear and specific instructions from your vet, veterinary surgeon, or nurse on how to care for them. It is 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 how to perform a specific instruction once you're home, it's best to call your vet and seek clarification. 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.

Your Dog's Recovery from Anesthesia

Most veterinary surgeries need a general anesthetic. It makes your pet unconscious, so they won't feel any pain. However, 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.

Helping Your Dog Regain Their Appetite

Once your dog receives the anesthesia, it 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, 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.

You should contact your vet right away if its been more than 48 hours since your dog last ate.

Managing Your Dog's Pain After Veterinary Surgery

A veterinary professional will assess the prescribed medications for your dog's post-surgery pain. 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.

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.

Never give your dog any human medications unless instructed by your vet to do so. Some medications can be harmful or even fatal for pets.

Ways to Help Keep Your Dog Comfortable After Pet Surgery in Brooklyn

After undergoing surgery, it's crucial to provide your pet 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 its body.

Monitor Your Dog's Coughing

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. 

Keep Your Dog From Jumping After Surgery

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, 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.

Help Your Dog Adjust to Crate Rest

While not all types of surgery will require crate rest, others like orthopedic surgery will. 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

Watch Out for the Stitches

It is common practice these days to place the stitches inside the wound rather than on 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.

Don't Allow Your Dog to Irritate the Incision

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 that your vet recommends. These options include donut-style collars or post-op medical pet shirts, which are effective and less bulky alternatives.

Your Dog's Bandages Need to Stay 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.

Be Sure to Attend Your Dog's Checkups After Surgery

The follow-up appointment is to monitor your pet's progress after veterinary surgery allowing our Brooklyn vets to 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 veterinarian 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 that your dog (or cat) is showing signs of complications after surgery? Please contact our Brooklyn vets today for advice.

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

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