After a dog has surgery, pet parents play a pivotal role in helping them to fully recover. Attentive, diligent post-op care is essential to help your pooch return to its daily routine as quickly as possible. Our Staten Island vets share some tips for how to care for your dog after surgery.
Always Follow Surgery Post-Op Instructions
In the days before 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 remember a specific step in your veterinarian's instructions once you get home, you can call our office to double-check. Depending on the required procedure, either in-house surgery will be carried out or you will be referred to a qualified veterinary surgeon close to Staten Island.
Whether our veterinarians perform the procedure or need to refer you to a specialist, our team at Aadobe Animal Hospital in Staten Island 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.
Effects of General Anesthetic
Your dog was likely kept unconscious and kept from feeling pain during surgery by your veterinarian using a general anesthetic. After the procedure, it might take some time for the anesthesia's effects to subside.
Feeding Your Dog After Surgery
It is possible that your dog won't eat after surgery. In addition to nausea, this is a common after-effect of the anesthetic. 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.
If your dog stops eating after surgery, don't panic. The appetite of your dog should return in about 24 hours. Then you can start reintroducing their regular food gradually. Contact your veterinarian (or a vet surgeon if you've been referred to one) if your dog hasn't eaten after surgery for more than 48 hours. Appetite loss may indicate an infection.
Managing Your Dog’s Pain After Surgery
Following surgery, your veterinarian will take time to explain any pain relievers or medications they need to prescribe for your pet so you can prevent infection and manage post-surgery discomfort or pain.
The veterinarian will give you a briefing on the required dosage, recommended dosing frequency, and safe dosing techniques. Make sure to carefully follow these instructions to reduce the possibility of side effects and to reduce unnecessary pain as your dog heals. Ask follow up questions if you have any questions about any instructions.
Some dogs may be high-strung or experience anxiety post-surgery. If this is the case for your pooch, your vet may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication or sedatives to help your pet remain calm while they heal.
Cold laser therapy may also be beneficial to your dog after surgery. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are used in cold laser therapy for dogs in order to reduce pain and boost cellular healing.
A word of caution: Never give your dog human medications without consulting your veterinarian first. While medications for people help us feel better, they are dangerous for our dogs and other pets.
Set Up a Quiet, Comfortable Space
In order to rest and recover, your dog will require a quiet area. Away from the bustle of the rest of the household, this area should have a soft bed with space for them to spread out. This soft bed is essential because it can lessen pressure on your pet's sensitive or bandaged body parts.
Dog Shaking or Coughing After Surgery
Have you noticed your dog shaking or coughing after surgery?
If your dog had a tube placed in its 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 is frequently a side effect of anesthesia or painkillers after surgery. Small meals should be given to your pet frequently. After that, hold them in your lap or sit next to them while talking to them and petting them a lot to reassure them. The additional care and love will be beneficial.
Restrict your Pet’s Movement
For a specified period after surgery, your vet may recommend limiting your dog’s movement and physical activity. Sudden stretching or jumping can disrupt recovery and cause incisions to reopen.
Depending on the surgery, you may not need to take significant measures such as a 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.
Nevertheless, you might find it challenging to stop your dog from using the stairs or jumping up on furniture that they like to sleep on. If you are unable to directly supervise him, you might need to keep your dog in a secure, comfortable room of the house to stop him from doing this.
If your dog happens to be recovering from orthopedic surgery, he or she 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.