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Helping your dog recover after surgery - the 10 best things you can do

Apr 30, 2013

Are you specifically concerned about a dog that won't eat after surgery? Click here for our post about that exact issue.

Surgery can be scary for pets and owners.  The recovery process is usually simple, but the first few days and weeks after surgery require special care for your dog.  For your dog to recover quickly after surgery, here are 10 simple things you can do to help.

The first couple of days you’re going to see your pet be groggy, tired, sleeping more than usual, and have poor motor control and balance.  There is likely to be a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, panting, and sometimes a loss of bladder control.  It's in these first 2 days extra precautions are necessary.  After that, keeping your best friend from running and jumping,or biting at the wound too much will probably be your biggest concerns.

1.  Keep your dog warm, but not hot.  The effects of the anesthesia wearing off will keep your dog’s temperature sensors from working in the first day or two.  He won’t know if it’s hot or cold, so you have to help him out and adjust the heat or cool for him.

2.  Keep her on the floor.  Even if it seems like the anesthesia is all gone, your pooch still might have an occasional stumble and fall off something like a bed, or down stairs in the first couple of days.  Obstacles will be harder to navigate, so a simple, comfortable place to rest that’s not too far from the door to go out will be ideal.

3.  Keep him isolated from other animals and kids.  This is a time when your usually sweet pet might snap or bite at other pets, or even children.  The pain following surgery and disorientation from anesthesia might make your pet act unusually for the first day or two.  All symptoms will be temporary, so don’t worry if your best friend is snappy.  You might need to isolate your dog from other dogs for 10-14 days if the other dogs might lick your dog's wounds, or play with him too intensely.

4.  Take them outside every few hours the day of and the day after the surgery.  The IV fluids they received during the operation will make your pet have to urinate more frequently.  She might be disoriented and have accidents indoors if not given the regular opportunity to go outside.  Occasionally a dog might even pee in their sleep- as they are likely to sleep so much deeper than usual- so it might be best not to let them sleep on anything that couldn’t be cleaned up later.

5.  Give water- she wont think she’s thirsty, but she will actually need liquids more than usual.  Don’t leave,though - overly groggy dogs can droop their head in their water and drown.  You can also offer food- which some dogs might like and some might not.  If you do offer food, offer something bland like boiled chicken or hamburger meat, not treats, and give only a small amount.  This way if they choose to eat it’s out of real hunger and not for the flavor.  You can expect a little nausea and sometimes vomiting the first day after surgery, another reason a small meal is best.

6. Proper wound care after surgery helps dogs heal faster and reduces infections and other complications.  Your vet should give you instructions for cleansing the wound (or leaving it alone).  Vet advice might range from changing bandages or cleaning a drain site 2-3 times a day to just checking it every few days.  Some vets will have you wash the wound with salt water, or use betadine.  Others will give you antibiotic creams to use.  Some vets will use a glue to close the wound rather than stitches or sutures.  If that is the case it is important NOT to wash the wound, but keep it dry.

What you can do is check to see the wound is staying closed and isn’t infected.  For healing spaying wounds or other scars from internal surgeries, check to see the original length of the scar, and be alert if it seems to get any larger or sutures have come undone.  Don't hesitate to call your vet if that is the case.

A little blood and plasma (clear or slightly yellowish fluid) leaking from the wound site is normal.  Excessive pus, white or yellow fluid could signal a dangerous infection.  Any more than a few drops of blood is likely cause for concern.

7.  Prevent licking - it might cause an infection or pull out sutures.  If your dog has a wound they can reach, they’ll probably try to lick, and so will their doggie friends.  Again, that means isolating your dog from other pooches, and keeping the “cone,” or e-collar on, if your vet gave you one.  Your dog only needs a couple of minutes to lick and bite out stitches- so better not to risk it.  The e-collar might be needed for up to two weeks after the surgery while your dog is recovering.

dog with collar

8.  Take short leashed walks for the first two weeks.   Don’t let him walk much or run and jump.  This might be hard after the first couple of days because he or she might have pent up energy and want to run, even if they're not fully healed.  Two days after a spaying operation, my dog pulled so hard on her leash she knocked my father down and sprinted about 5 city blocks.  Luckily, she didn’t do any major damage to herself.

9.  Keep it dry.  Avoid baths for the first couple of weeks in most cases. Your vet may have more stringent instructions.  If it’s wet outside, make sure to keep the incision site dry if you’re going for a walk.  If it’s on the underbelly, don’t let them lay down where it’s wet or dirty.  If it’s raining, you might want to cover the wound and bandage with plastic.

10.  Use the Assisi Loop for faster healing.  Okay, we had to get a plug in here, because we know animals recovering from surgeries recover 58% faster if they get treated with the Assisi Loop.  That’s with two 15 minute treatments a day.  If your pooch had major surgery that’s going to mean a lot of pain or rehab time, then the Loop is a great choice, and we’re proud to let you know it’s available though your veterinarian.  If your dog is going to have a long recovery process, or be in pain for more than a couple of days, targeted PEMF therapy with the Loop can reduce pain and inflammation as well as speed healing. CLICK HERE to learn more! 

To the health of your dog!



Category: Surgery, Longevity, Dogs

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