Your pet has just had surgery. Now what? Here are a few tips on how to care for your pet during recovery and get them back to normal in no time!
First 24 hours After Surgery
When you pick your pet up from Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital after surgery, a staff member will go over with you a detailed take-home information sheet. This will include feeding instructions, medications, reduced activity levels and what to watch for with the incision. Your pet has been sedated and anesthetized for surgery so they will be sleepy and will want to rest the first night. Do not be alarmed if they do not want to eat or drink. Your pet may not have a bowel movement in the first 24-48 hours. They fasted before surgery, might not be eating their full amount post surgery and less activity can all contribute to less stool. The first night your pet might feel effects of the anesthetic such as whining, grogginess, poor balance, and nausea. The anesthetic can also lower body temperature. At home, make sure your pet is in a warm environment for the night. The best thing you can do is cuddle with them and let them rest. TLC is the best treatment!
7-14 Days After Surgery
The next couple weeks after surgery can be tough. An Elizabeth Collar (cone) must be kept on your pet at all times to allow the incision to heal properly. Your pet’s mouth is full of bacteria and licking the incision increases the risk of infection. Also, the licking or chewing action to the incision will most likely result in pulling out the sutures, which means another surgery. If your pet becomes depressed with the cone on, there are other options to keep the incision covered. Items like a pet or human clothing fastened to cover that area will work as well.
If your pet has been prescribed medications ensure you follow the label directions. A common recovery mistake is when the owner thinks the pet is feeling better and stops the medications prematurely. Stopping antibiotics too soon can result in antibiotic resistance as well as a flare-up a potential infection. Discontinuing the pain medication too soon can slow down recovery as well. Surgery is painful, and the surgical tissue is inflamed. Painful and inflamed surgical area can slow down healing. Thus, the recovery is set back. Do not give any over the counter medications to your pet. Over the counter drug is not medicine for animals.
Monitoring the incision during healing is very important. We recommend checking the incision at least once a day. Changes to the incision can happen quickly. Some bruising and redness can be normal however excessive bruising, swelling or any discharge are signs of concern. One of our veterinarians is always available to check the incision anytime!
During healing, there is no need to apply any ointments to the incision. Coconut oil, Polysporin, Vaseline, or essential oils can all break down the sutures before it has a chance to heal completely. Ensure the incision is always dry. Do not scrub the incision or bath your pet. If sutures or staples are visible on the skin, they can be removed in 14 days.
One of the hardest post-op rules to follow is activity restriction, but this is very important. Too much movement such as playing, running, jumping can cause complications to the healing process. To help prevent this, kenneling or just restricting the area is all you may need to do. Mental stimulation such as puzzle toys, kongs and chew toys will help keep your resting pet content.
Surgery is a significant procedure, and if we work together, your pet can have a quick and smooth recovery. We are always here at Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital to help you and your family pet!
Written by Alicia, Receptionist