If your pet has gone through surgery you need to stay informed on how you should take care of your pet until they have fully recovered so they can feel better again as soon as possible. Here our veterinary surgeons in Lafayette share some advice on how you can take care of your cat or dog after their surgery.
Always Follow Post-Op Instructions
We know both you and your animal companion are going to feel a bit of stress and anxiety when it's time for your pet's surgery. Although, the process will be easier for both you and your pet if you understand how to take care of your cat or dog when you get home.
After your pet's surgery, your vet surgeon will provide you with detailed and clear instructions on how to take care of your pet at home. You must follow these instructions carefully. If there is anything you don't understand, you have to ask.
If, you have forgotten about a specific instruction when you get home, call your cat or dog's surgeon in Lafayette for clarification. Our team of veterinary surgical specialists is committed to providing the best possible care for your furry companion and is always happy to help you understand any post-operative instructions.
Usual Recovery Times for Pets After Surgery
We find that pets often recover from soft tissue procedures like spaying and neutering or abdominal surgeries faster than the operations that involve joints, bones, or ligaments. Usually, soft tissue surgeries will almost be completely healed by the two to three-week mark post-operation but, it will probably take about six weeks until your pet is fully healed.
For surgeries involving ligaments and bones, recovery may take much longer - 80% recovery will usually occur about 8 to 12 weeks in, though could take as long as 6 months for full recoveries, such as when a torn cruciate ligament (ACL) has been repaired.
Below are a few key tips and advice you should keep in mind as you try and keep your pet comfortable and content during their recovery at home:
Effects of General Anesthetic
Your vet will most likely use a general anesthetic during your pet's procedure. This will have rendered your pet unconscious and prevented them from feeling any pain during their procedure. However, it can take some time to wear off after their surgery is complete.
A general anesthetic could cause temporary sleepiness, or make your pet feel shaky on its feet. These are normal after-effects and should disappear quickly with a little rest. Temporary lack of appetite is another common side effect associated with general anesthesia.
How to Feed Your Pet After Surgery
After your vet has administered the general anesthetic, your pet might feel somewhat nauseated and lose its appetite. When feeding your pet after the surgery, try offering a half-size portion of a light meal such as rice and chicken, which could be easier for them to digest than regular store-bought pet food.
You can expect your pet's appetite to come back within twenty-four hours of the operation. After that, they can start eating their regular food again. If your find that your pet's appetite hasn't returned within forty-eight hours of their operation, contact your veterinarian or pet surgeons. Loss of appetite can indicate excessive pain or an infection in your pet.
Managing Your Pet’s Pain After Surgery
Before you and your pet return home after surgery, a veterinary professional will explain any medications or pain relievers they have prescribed for your pet so you can manage post-surgery pain or discomfort.
Your vet will explain your pet's dosage, how often you should provide them their medication and how to safely administer it. Remember to follow these instructions as carefully as you can to avoid unnecessary pain and possible side effects. Always follow up with a veterinary professional if you aren't unsure about the instructions you were given.
Pain medications and/or antibiotics are often prescribed for pets after surgery to help relieve discomfort and to prevent infections after the procedure. If your pet experiences anxiety or tends to be on the high-strung end of the spectrum, your vet might also prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or sedative to help your pet stay calm while they are healing.
Never give your pet human medication unless instructed to by your vet. Many medications which help humans feel better are toxic to our animal friends.
Help Your Pet Stay Comfortable At Home
After their operation, create a comfortable and quiet place for your pet to rest. Keep them away from the hustle and bustle of other pets, household chores, and children. Set up a soft bed for them and give them lots of room to spread out so they can avoid putting pressure on parts of their body that might be sensitive.
Restrict Your Pet’s Movement
After your pet's surgery, your vet will most likely recommend limiting your cat or dog's movement for some time. Sudden jumping or stretching can disrupt their healing and potentially reopen an incision.
Thankfully, most procedures won't require significant confinement of your pet such as "crate rest." And the majority of pets will cope well with staying indoors during most of their recovery - with only infrequent trips outside as required.
However, you might find it difficult to keep your pet from climbing stairs or jumping up on furniture they love to sleep on. Preventing these actions for several days might require keeping your pet in a safe, comfortable room of the house when you are unable to directly supervise them.
Helping Your Pet With Cage-Rest
Orthopedic surgery, unlike other surgeries which don't require cage rest, will require strict limitations on your pet's movements. If your vet recommends crate rest for your pet after their surgery, there are plenty of actions you can take to help your pet adjust and cope with their strict confinement to make them as happy and comfortable as possible.
Confirm that the crate is large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around. You might need to purchase a larger crate if your pet has a plastic cone or e-collar to prevent licking. Don’t forget to make sure they have plenty of room for their water and food dishes, without risking spills that might make their bandages or bedding wet and soiled.
Caring for Your Pet’s Stitches
You might notice that stitches have been placed on the inside of your pet’s wound rather than the outside. Stitches on the inside will dissolve as the incision heals.
If your pet has had stitches or staples placed on the outside of their incisions, your vet will need to remove them sometime within 14 days of the surgery. They will let you know what type of stitches they used and about any follow-up care, they might require from you.
The Incision Site
You might have trouble keeping your pet from chewing, biting, scratching, or generally bothering their incision site or bandages. A cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in both soft and hard versions) is an effective option to prevent your pet from licking their wound.
Often, pets will adapt to this collar pretty quickly. If your pet is having a hard time adjusting, there are also other choices available to you. Ask your vet about less cumbersome, more effective products such as post-op medical pet shirts or donut-style collars.
Keep Your Pet’s Bandages Dry
Keep your pet's bandages dry at all times. This is another critical step to helping your pet’s surgical site heal quickly.
Make sure your pet's bandages are covered in plastic wrap or a bag if they have to go outside. This will prevent dampness, grass, or dirt from getting between their bandage and their skin. Remove the covering when your pet goes back inside since it may cause sweat around their incision - and that can lead to infection.
Go to Your Pet’s Follow-Up Appointment
The follow-up appointment allows your vet to monitor your pet’s recovery progress and look for any signs of infection before it develops into a serious condition.
Remember to change your pet's bandages at the appointed time as well. Leaving their bandages on for too long can cause pressure sores or cut off your companion's blood supply. Bringing your pet to your vet for a follow-up appointment lets your vet redress their wounds if needed. This lets your pet's healing process stay smooth and on track for a full recovery.
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.