As a pet parent you play a pivotal role in helping your dog recover well after surgery. Attentive, diligent post-op care is the key to helping your pet return to their daily routine as quickly as possible. Below, our Olive Branch vets share some tips for how to care for your dog after surgery.
Follow Surgery Post-Op Instructions Carefully
In the days leading up to and after surgery, both you and your dog will likely be feeling some stress. However, understanding how to care for your canine companion after they settle in at home is critical to helping them get back to their routine as soon as possible.
Following your dog’s procedure, you’ll receive clear, detailed instructions from your vet about how to care for your pup at home. Heeding these and complying with them will be vital to a safe, successful recovery. If you do not understand any of the steps recommended, make sure to clarify.
Even if you arrive home and realize you’ve forgotten how to complete a specific step in your vet’s instructions, you can call our office to verify. Depending on the procedure required, the surgery will either be performed in-house or you’ll be referred to a professional veterinary surgeon near Olive Branch.
Whether our veterinarians perform the procedure or need to refer you to a specialist, our team at Cat and Cow Vet Clinic in Olive Branch is committed to providing your dog with attentive, high-quality care — and offering advice on at-home measures that can have a significant positive impact, such as post-op care.
The Effects of General Anesthetic On Your Dog
Your vet likely used a general anesthetic to keep your dog unconscious and prevent them from experiencing pain during surgery. The effects of anesthesia may take some time to wear off after the procedure is performed.
Feeding Your Dog After Surgery
It is possible that your dog won't eat after surgery. This is a common after-effect of the anesthetic likely associated with mild nausea caused by these medications. You might consider offering a half-size portion of a light meal such as chicken or rice. Your dog may find this easier to digest than their regular store-bought food.
Don't be alarmed if your dog is not eating after surgery. Your pup’s appetite should return within about 24 hours. You can then begin to gradually reintroduce their normal food. If it’s been more than 48 hours and your dog still won’t eat after surgery, contact your veterinarian (or vet surgeon if you’ve been referred to one). Loss of appetite can be a sign of infection.
Pain Management After Your Dog's Surgery
After your dog's surgery, your vet or veterinary surgeon will take time to explain any pain relievers or medications that your pet needs to help prevent infection and manage post-surgery discomfort or pain.
The vet will brief you on the dose required, how often the medication should be given and how you can do so safely. To prevent unnecessary pain as your dog recovers and to eliminate the risk of side effects, be sure to follow these instructions closely. If you are unsure of any instructions, ask follow-up questions.
Some dogs may be high-strung or experience anxiety following their surgery. If this is the case for your pet, your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication or sedatives to help your dog remain calm while they heal.
Important note: Never give your dog human medications without consulting your vet first. While medications for people help us feel better, they are dangerous for our dogs and other pets.
Giving Your Pet a Quiet Space to Heal
Your dog will need a quiet space to rest and recover. This spot should have a soft bed with room for them to spread out, away from the hustle of the rest of the household. This soft bed is important as it can help prevent undue pressure on bandaged or sensitive parts of your pet’s body.
Dog Shaking or Coughing After Surgery
Have you noticed your dog shaking or coughing after surgery?
If your dog had a tube placed in their trachea (windpipe) while receiving anesthesia, this may have caused mild irritation and a slight cough. A mild post-surgical cough will usually diminish over the next few days. Contact our hospital if coughing persists or worsens.
Shaking after surgery is typically an after-effect of anesthesia or pain control medication. Have your pet frequently eat small amounts of food, then hold them in your lap or sit next to them while speaking to them and giving lots of reassuring pets. The extra love and attention will help.
Restricting Your Dog’s Movements
Your vet may recommend limiting your dog’s movement and physical activity for a certain period of time following surgery. Sudden stretching or jumping can disrupt recovery and could cause incisions to reopen.
Depending on the surgery, you may not need to take significant measures - such as complete cage or crate rest - to confine your dog. Most dogs will be able to stay inside for a few days, making essential trips for bathroom breaks outdoors.
It can be challenging to prevent some dogs from climbing stairs or jumping on furniture. To prevent your pooch from doing this when you are unable to provide direct supervision you may need to restrict your pup to a safe, comfortable room of the house.
If your dog happens to be recovering from orthopedic surgery, they may need to be confined to a laundry sized or smaller pen with gradually increasing amounts of exercise as recovery progresses.
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.