Post-Operative Care in Dogs: What to Expect?

Your furry friend's health is undoubtedly one of your top priorities, and it's essential to ensure they receive the best possible care, especially after surgery. After all, you want your dog to recover as quickly and resume their normal, playful life, right? Well, you're in the right place! Our knowledgeable veterinarians here at Seattle have put together some practical pointers on post-operative care for dogs.

Always Follow Your Veterinarian's Post-Op Instructions

We know how stressful it can be when your furry friend requires surgery, and it's only natural to feel a bit anxious. But don't worry! We're here to help you navigate the post-operative care process, so your pup can return to its happy, healthy self in no time!

After your dog's surgery, your veterinarian will provide detailed instructions on how to care for your pet at home. Listening carefully and following these instructions closely is important to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact your veterinary team. They're there to support you and your furry friend every step of the way.

Here are some basic tips to help you care for your pup at home:

After-Effects of General Anesthetic

Most veterinary surgical procedures will require a general anesthetic. General anesthesia renders your pet unconscious and prevents them from feeling pain during the procedure. However, it may take some time for the general anesthesia to wear off after the surgery anesthetic may cause your dog to feel sleepy or shaky on its feet for a brief period.

These side effects are normal and will go away with rest. Another common side effect of a general anesthetic is a loss of appetite.

Feeding Your Dog After Surgery

Your dog may refuse to eat after surgery because of the general anesthetic. It is easier for your dog to digest a half-size portion of a light meal, such as chicken and rice than regular store-bought dog food after surgery. You can gradually resume serving your dog's regular food after 24 hours of surgery, as their appetite should return. If your dog does not eat for two days after surgery, contact your veterinarian or a veterinary surgeon. It is possible for loss of appetite to indicate pain or infection.

Managing Your Dog's Pain After Surgery

We know that this can be a daunting and stressful time, but rest assured that you're not alone, and we're here to help you every step of the way.

When it's time for your dog to head back home after surgery, a veterinary professional will provide you with detailed instructions on the medications that have been prescribed to help manage your pet's post-surgery pain. It's essential to pay close attention to these instructions to ensure that your pup recovers as quickly and comfortably as possible. If you have any questions or concerns about the medication dosage, frequency, or administration, don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

In addition to pain relief, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent post-operative infections. Furthermore, if your pup tends to be anxious or high-strung, your vet may recommend a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to keep them calm and relaxed during their recovery.

It's critical to remember that human medications can be highly toxic to dogs, so never give your pet any medication without consulting your veterinarian first. Even if a medication has helped you in the past, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's safe for your pup.

Your furry friend's health and comfort are our top priority. By carefully following your vet's instructions and being vigilant about any changes or concerns, you can help your pet to have a safe, speedy, and stress-free recovery after surgery.

Keeping Your Dog Comfortable When They Get Home

Providing your pet with a comfortable and quiet place to rest after the surgery is essential, away from children and other pets. Providing your dog with a soft, comfortable bed with plenty of room to spread out can help prevent pressure from forming on any bandaged or sensitive body areas.

Restricting Your Pet's Movement

We're sure you're relieved that your furry friend is back from surgery, but it's important to remember that the recovery period is just as crucial as the operation itself. Your vet will likely recommend that you limit your pup's activity and movement for some time, and it's essential to follow these guidelines carefully to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery.

During recovery, sudden stretching and jumping movements can interfere with the healing process and even cause the incision to reopen. But don't worry; most pets don't require complete 'crate rest' and can be kept indoors for a few days. However, keeping your dog from jumping up on furniture or climbing stairs can be challenging, so preventing these behaviors is essential.

One way to do this is to confine your pup to a safe and comfortable room when you cannot supervise them directly. Consider using baby gates to block off areas with stairs or furniture that your dog might be tempted to jump on. Additionally, you could provide your pup with plenty of interactive toys or puzzles to keep them entertained and mentally stimulated during their recovery.

Remember, every dog is different, and recovery can take time. But by limiting your pup's movement and keeping them safe and comfortable, you can help ensure a smooth and speedy recovery. And before you know it, your furry friend will return to their happy, playful self once again!

Helping Your Dog When Cage Rest (Crate Rest) is Necessary

While most surgeries don't require crate-rest, some orthopedic surgeries may require you to limit your pup's movements strictly. We know that crate-rest can be daunting, but don't worry; we're here to help you and your furry friend adjust to this new routine!

If your vet has recommended crate-rest for your dog following surgery, it's essential to ensure their crate is the right size. Your pup should be able to stand up and turn around comfortably inside their crate, and if they need a plastic cone or 'E-Collar' to prevent licking, you may need to purchase a larger crate to accommodate it.

It's also important to ensure enough room inside the crate for your pup's food and water dishes without risking spills that could soil their bedding and bandages. Consider using elevated feeding bowls or attaching them to the crate's walls to prevent them from being knocked over.

Your Pet's Stitches

Many veterinarians prefer to stitch inside of your dog's wound rather than the outside of the wound. As the incision heals, the stitches dissolve. If your doctor uses outside stitches or staples, they need to be taken off 10 to 14 days after surgery. The types of stitches used to close your pet's incision will be explained to you by your veterinarian.

Caring for Your Pet's Incision Site

Keeping your dog from biting, chewing, or scratching its bandages or incision sites can be hard. You should use a plastic cone-shaped Elizabethan collar to stop your dog from licking its wound. Many dogs get used to wearing a cone collar quickly, but there are other options if your dog has trouble getting used to it. Consult your veterinarian about effective and less obtrusive opportunities, such as donut-style collars or post-op medical pet shirts.

Keep Your Pet's Bandages Dry

Keep bandages dry at all times to help your dog's incision heal quickly. When your dog goes outside, cover the bandages with a plastic bag or cling wrap to keep them from getting wet or damp. Take off the plastic cover. If you leave the bandage on too long, sweat can collect under it.

Don't Skip Your Dog's Follow-Up Appointment

Your furry friend's health is of the utmost importance, and we're sure you want to do everything in your power to ensure a speedy and successful recovery after surgery. One crucial aspect of this recovery process is the follow-up appointment with your veterinarian.

At the follow-up appointment, your vet can monitor your pet's progress and check for any signs of infection before it becomes more serious. This is a great chance for your vet to make sure that your furry friend is healing properly and to address any concerns you may have about their recovery.

Another essential factor in your pup's recovery is their bandages. It's crucial to ensure that they're not left on for an extended period after the procedure, as failure to change them on time can lead to pressure sores or a disruption in the blood supply to the affected area.

Your pet's veterinary hospital staff has been trained to dress wounds and change bandages appropriately. By bringing your pup in for a follow-up appointment, you can ensure that your veterinary team can change your pet's bandages, which helps keep your furry friend's healing process on track.

Between veterinary appointments, if your dog's bandage falls off, or you notice swelling, blood seeping through the bandages, or an unpleasant odor at the incision site, make an appointment with your vet immediately.

Helping Your Pup to Stay Happy While Recovering

We know that recovery can be frustrating for your furry friend, and it can be challenging for them to understand why they can't play and move around like they used to. But don't worry. We have some tips to help keep your pup entertained and happy during their recovery!

First, finding ways to provide your pup with stimulation and reassurance that don't involve too much activity is essential. One way to do this is to offer a rotating selection of gentle games, such as dog-friendly chew or squeaky toys. Giving your pup one or two toys at a time and switching them out regularly can help prevent boredom and keep your furry friend engaged.

While treats can be a great way to cheer up your pup, it's important to remember that they're likely burning fewer calories due to their reduced activity level. So limit the number of treats you give them and choose healthy, low-calorie options.

And remember, sometimes the best thing you can do for your furry friend is simply spend time with them. Sitting quietly with your pup, stroking their fur, and chatting with them in a calm, soothing voice can go a long way in helping them feel loved and reassured during their recovery.

Recovery takes time, and every dog is different. But by finding ways to provide your furry friend stimulation, love, and reassurance during this challenging period, you can help them feel comfortable and happy as they heal.

Typical Recovery Times For Pets Following Surgery

Soft tissue operations, such as spaying, neutering, or abdominal surgery, usually lead to a faster recovery than procedures involving bones, joints, and ligaments. Many soft tissue surgeries heal about 80% after 2–3 weeks and may completely recover within 6 weeks or less. 

Surgery involving bones and ligaments will likely take much longer to heal and are usually around 80% healed after about 8 - 12 weeks. However, it can take as long as 6 months for your pet to recover completely following surgeries such as those mentioned above. 

Reassurance for Loving Pet Owners

Parents often feel guilty about restricting their dog's movements following surgery. Remember that dogs recover much faster from surgery than humans do. By following your vet's post-op instructions, you are doing everything possible to help your dog recover quickly and return to their normal active lifestyle as soon as possible.

If you notice that your dog is shaking after surgery or even coughing after surgery, there is usually no reason for alarm. Usually, a post-surgery cough occurs a few days after surgery. If it persists past the three-day mark, though, contact your vet.

If you're concerned about your dog's recovery from recent surgery, contact us for assistance. Our veterinary professionals at Madison Park Veterinary Hospital in Seattle are here to help your pet feel better.