If your pet is having surgery, you must know how to care for them while they recover so that they can get back to their normal routine as soon as possible. Our White Settlement veterinarians have provided some post-surgery care advice.

Follow The Post-Op Instructions

Pets and their owners are bound to experience some anxiety around the time of the surgery, but knowing how to care for your four-legged friend after they return home is critical to assist your pet in returning to normalcy as soon as possible.

Following your pet's surgery, your veterinarian will give you specific instructions on how to care for your pet at home. It is critical that you carefully follow these instructions. If you have any questions about any of the steps, please ask. Even if you get home and realize you've forgotten how to carry out a specific instruction, call your vet to clarify.

Recovery Times for Pets After Surgery

Our team has discovered that most pets recover faster from soft tissue procedures such as abdominal surgery, spaying, or neutering than from operations involving ligaments, bones, and joints. Many soft tissue surgeries are approximately 80 percent healed two to three weeks after surgery and take approximately six weeks to completely heal.

Recovery time is much longer for surgeries involving ligaments and bones. Approximately 80% of your pet's recovery will take place within 8 to 12 weeks of surgery, but many orthopedic surgeries require 6 months or more for complete recovery. Cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery is an example of orthopedic surgery.

Here are a few tips from our White Settlement vets to help you keep your pet contented and comfortable as they recover at home:

Getting Over the Effects of General Anesthetic

A general anesthetic is used during the surgical procedure to render your pet unconscious and prevent them from feeling any pain, but it can take some time to wear off after the procedure is finished.

A general anesthetic may cause your pet to become drowsy or shaky on its feet. These are normal side effects that should go away after a short period of rest. Another common side effect of general anesthesia is a temporary loss of appetite.

Diet & Feeding Your Pet After Surgery

Because of the general anesthetic, your pet may feel nauseated and lose its appetite immediately following surgery. Feeding your pet after surgery should consist of a half-size portion of a light meal, such as rice and chicken, which may be easier to digest than regular store-bought pet food.

The appetite of your pet should return within 24 hours of surgery. At that point, your pet can gradually resume eating their regular food. Contact your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon if your pet's appetite hasn't returned within 48 hours. Loss of appetite can indicate an infection or pain.

Pet Pain Management

Before you and your pet leave the hospital after surgery, a veterinary professional will explain any medications or pain relievers that have been prescribed for your pet so that you can manage any post-surgery pain or discomfort.

They will explain the appropriate dose, how frequently you should administer the medication, and how to do so safely. Follow these instructions precisely to avoid unnecessary pain during recovery and to reduce the risk of side effects. If you have any doubts about any of the instructions, ask more questions.

Pain relievers and/or antibiotics are frequently prescribed for pets following surgery to help relieve discomfort and prevent infections. If your pet is anxious or on the high-strung end of the spectrum, your veterinarian may also prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or sedative to help your pet stay calm while healing.

Never provide your pet human medications without first consulting your veterinarian. Many drugs that help us feel better are toxic to our four-legged friends.

Keeping Your Pet Comfortable At Home

It's critical to provide your pet with a quiet, comfortable place to rest after surgery, away from the hustle and bustle of the house, other pets, and children. Setting up a comfortable, soft bed and giving them plenty of room to spread out can help to prevent undue pressure on any sensitive or bandaged areas of their body.

Restricting Movement

Your veterinarian will most likely advise you to restrict your pet's movement after surgery for a set period. Spontaneous jumping or stretching can disrupt the healing process and cause the incision to reopen.

Fortunately, most procedures do not necessitate significant confinement, such as complete 'crate-rest' (cage-rest), and most pets will cope well staying indoors for a few days, with only the occasional necessary trip outside for bathroom breaks.

Some pet parents find it difficult to keep their dogs from climbing stairs or jumping up on furniture they like to sleep on. To prevent these behaviors for a few days, keep your dog in a safe, comfortable room of the house when you are unable to directly supervise them.

Helping Your Pet Cope With Crate Rest

While most surgeries will not require crate rest, if your pet has had orthopedic surgery, part of recovery will involve strictly limiting their movements.

If your veterinarian recommends crate rest for your pet following surgery, there are steps you can take to help your pet adjust to the strict confinement and become more comfortable with spending long periods in their crate.

Make sure your pet's crate is large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around. If your dog wears a plastic cone or an e-collar to prevent licking, you may need to purchase a larger crate. Don't forget to leave plenty of space for your animal's water and food dishes. Spills can make your pet's crate a wet and unpleasant place to spend time, as well as cause bandages to become wet and soiled.

Stitches & Bandages

Stitches that have been placed on the inside of your pet's incision will dissolve as the incision heals.

If staples or stitches were used on the outside, your veterinarian will need to remove them 10 to 14 days after surgery. Your veterinarian will inform you of the type of stitches used to close your pet's incision, as well as any necessary follow-up care.

Another important step in assisting your pet's surgical site to heal quickly is to keep bandages dry at all times.

If your pet goes outside, cover the bandages with cling wrap or a plastic bag to prevent wet grass or dampness from getting between the bandage and their skin. When your pet returns home, remove the plastic covering, as leaving it on may cause sweat to accumulate under the bandage, resulting in infection.

The Incision Site

It can be difficult for pet parents to keep their pet from scratching, chewing, biting, or otherwise bothering their incision site or bandages. To keep your pet from licking their wound, use a cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in soft and hard versions).

Many pets adjust quickly to the collar, but if your pet is having difficulty, there are other options. Inquire with your veterinarian about less cumbersome options, such as post-op medical pet shirts or donut-style collars.

Attend Your Pet’s Follow-Up Appointment

The follow-up appointment allows your vet to monitor your pet’s recovery, check for signs of infection, and properly change your pet’s bandages.

Frontier Veterinary Hospital's team has been trained to properly dress wounds. Bringing your pet in for a follow-up appointment allows this process to take place - and allows us to assist in keeping your pet's healing 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.

If your pet is scheduled to undergo surgery at Frontier Veterinary Hospital in White Settlement contact us to learn more about how you can prepare for your pet's after-care.