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Caring for Your Pet After Surgery

Caring for Your Pet After Surgery

Caring for a pet as they recover from surgery is an important task. Diligent care can help them return to their normal life as soon as possible. Today, our Matthews vets share tips about how to care for your pet after surgery. 

Always Follow Surgery Post-Op Instructions

Both pets and their humans will likely feel some stress around the time of the procedure. However, knowing how to care for your four-legged family member after they get settled in at home is critical to helping them get back to their routine as quickly as possible.

After your pet’s procedure, your vet will provide clear, detailed instructions about how to care for your pet at home. Following these carefully will be key to a successful, safe recovery. If there are any steps you do not understand, make sure to ask.

Even if you arrive home and realize you’ve forgotten how to complete a specific step in the instructions, call your vet to clarify. Our team at Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Matthews are committed to giving your pet the very best care and attention — and sharing their knowledge on at-home measures that can make the difference, such as post-op care.

Typical Recovery Times for Pets After Surgery

We’ve found that pets tend to recover from soft tissue procedures such as spaying or neutering, or abdominal surgeries, more quickly than operations involving joints, bones and ligaments. Many soft tissue surgeries typically heal about 80% after 2 to 3 weeks. Allow 6 weeks for complete healing to occur.

Your pet’s recovery may take much longer if the surgery was on bones or ligaments while 90% recovery will usually take place at between 8 and 12 weeks in, it may take as long as 6 months for them to completely recover, such as when the vet has repaired a torn cruciate ligament (ACL).

Here are a few important tips to keep your pet comfortable and content as they recover at home:

Effects of General Anesthetic

Your vet likely used general anesthetic to keep your pet unconscious and prevent them from feeling any pain during the procedure. After the surgery is complete, anesthesia may take some time to wear off.

You may notice effects of the anesthestic in your pet, including lack of appetite, sleepiness and shakiness when they’re on their feet. Rest assured these are normal and should disappear quickly with some rest.

Feeding Your Pet After Surgery

As mentioned above, temporary lack or loss of appetite, along with nausea, are common after-effects of anesthetic. Try offering a half-size portion of a light meal such as chicken or rice, as your pet may find this easier to digest than regular store-bought food.

Within about 24 hours after surgery, your pet’s appetite should return. You can then gradually start to serve their regular food. If their appetite hasn’t returned within 48 hours, contact your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon. Loss of appetite can be a sign of pain or infection.

Manage a Pet’s Pain After Surgery

Before you take your pet home to recuperate, a veterinary professional will take some time to explain any pain relievers or medications they have prescribed for your pet so you’ll be able to manage post-surgery discomfort or pain. These are often designed to prevent infections and help relieve discomfort.

They’ll discuss the dose needed, how often the medication should be administered and how to do so safely. Make sure to follow these instructions carefully to eliminate risk of side effects or prevent unnecessary pain during recovery. If you are unsure of any instructions, ask follow-up questions.

If your pet experiences anxiety post-surgery or tends to be high-strung, your vet may also prescribe sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help your pet stay calm as they heal.

Never administer human medications to your pet without consulting your veterinarian first. While medications for people help us feel better, they are toxic to our pets.

Help Your Pet Stay Comfortable at Home

Set up a quiet comfortable place for your pet to rest and recover. This spot should be away from other pets and children and the hustle and bustle of the house. Have a soft bed ready for them and make room for them to spread out, which can prevent undue pressure on bandaged or sensitive parts of their body.

Restrict Your Pet’s Movement

Your vet will likely recommend limiting your pet’s movement and physical activity temporarily for a specified period following surgery. Sudden stretching or jumping can disrupt the recovery process and cause the incision to reopen.

Fortunately, you will not need to take significant measures such as complete cage or crate rest to confine your pet following most procedures to aid in recovery. Most pets cope well with staying indoors for a few days, making the odd essential trip outdoors for bathroom breaks.

However, you may find it challenging to keep your dog from jumping on furniture they like to rest on or climbing stairs. To prevent these actions, you may need to keep your dog in a safe, comfortable room of the house if you are unable to supervise them directly.

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.

For advanced veterinary care for your dog speak to your vet about a referral for your pup to see our Matthews Specialist Vets. If your dog is in need of urgent care contact us right away for help! Our Matthews emergency vets are available to help pets in need.

Caring for Pets in Matthews

Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Matthews accepts new clients to our specialty services by referral only. Our emergency service accepts all clients.

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