You play a pivotal role in helping your dog to recover well after surgery. Diligent, attentive post-op care plays an essential role in helping your pooch return to their normal daily routine and activities as quickly as possible. Our Huntsville vets share tips on caring for your dog after surgery.
The Importance of Following Post-Op Instructions
In the days leading up to and shortly 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.
When your dog is ready to come home after surgery, your vet or veterinary surgeon will provide you with clear, detailed instructions on how to care for your pup at home. You must follow those instructions carefully to help your dog have a safe, successful recovery. If you do not understand any of the steps recommended, make sure to clarify.
Even if you arrive home and realize you’ve forgotten how to complete a specific step in your vet’s instructions, you can call our office to verify. Depending on the procedure required, the surgery will either be performed in-house or you’ll be referred to a professional veterinary surgeon near Huntsville.
Whether our veterinarians perform the procedure or need to refer you to a specialist, our team at Whitesburg Animal Hospital in Huntsville 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 After Surgery
A general anesthetic will be used during your pup's surgery to keep them unconscious and prevent them from experiencing pain during the procedure. The effects of anesthesia may take some time to wear off after the surgery is performed.
Feeding Your Dog After Surgery
If your dog won't eat after surgery, try not to be too concerned. Nausea and lack of appetite are common after-effects of the general 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.
Your pup’s appetite should return within about 24 hours. You can then begin to gradually reintroduce their normal food. If it’s been more than 48 hours and your dog still won’t eat after surgery, contact your veterinarian (or vet surgeon if you’ve been referred to one). Loss of appetite can be a sign of 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 vet will brief you on the dose needed, how often the medication should be administered and how you can do so safely. To prevent unnecessary pain as your dog recovers and to eliminate risk of side effects, be sure to follow these instructions carefully. If you are unsure of any instructions, ask follow-up questions.
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.
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
Your dog will need a quiet space to rest and recover. This spot should have a soft bed with room for them to spread out, away from the hustle of the rest of the household. This soft bed is important as it can help prevent undue pressure on bandaged or sensitive parts of your pet’s body.
Dog Coughing or Shaking After Surgery
Have you noticed your dog shaking or coughing after surgery?
If your dog had a tube placed in their 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 after surgery is typically an after-effect of anesthesia or pain control medication. Have your pet frequently eat small amounts of food, then hold them in your lap or sit next to them while speaking to them and giving lots of reassuring pets. The extra love and attention will help.
Restrict your Dog’s Movements
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 complete cage rest to confine your dog. Most dogs will be required to simply stay inside for a few days, only making essential trips for bathroom breaks outdoors.
That said, you may find it difficult to prevent your dog from climbing stairs or jumping on furniture they like to nap on. To prevent them from doing this, you may need to keep your pup restricted to a safe, comfortable room of the house, free from temptation.
If your dog happens to be recovering from orthopedic surgery, they may need to be confined to a crate or small 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 or boarding needs, please make an appointment with your vet.