We always hope to avoid invasive surgical procedures in our pets, but sometimes surgery is unavoidable. Even routine procedures like spaying and neutering, while very safe, are still surgery and require recovery time. Meanwhile, you likely feel anxious and want to support your pet as well as possible. So if your pet is scheduled to undergo surgery in the future, here’s what you need to know about helping them heal.
Follow instructions. First, a blog can never replace the detailed instructions you will receive from your veterinarian. So follow those first. Rest time, dietary changes, medications, and so on will depend upon your pet’s health conditions and the type of surgery they’ve undergone.
Identify a small, enclosed space for your pet. It’s best to decide upon a recovery space before your pet undergoes surgery. You might need to purchase a small crate, if you don’t already own one, so that you can keep your pet contained.
Prevent boredom. Boredom and anxiety can increase the likelihood of chewing at stitches or other behavioral problems. Place your pet near you, so that they will feel comforted by your presence, or near a door or window while you’re gone.
Monitor the surgical site. If you need to, set an alarm on your phone to remind you to check the surgical wound a few times per day. Look for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, and discharge. Don’t let the area get wet, and change bandages per your veterinarian’s instructions.
Use medications exactly as prescribed. Make sure to give medications on time as directed, and don’t discontinue use unless your veterinarian instructs you to do so.
Restrict exercise at first. After a few days of recovery (or longer if the surgery was serious), your pet can begin to exercise for short periods of time. This might include walking around the house or going outside on a leash briefly. Avoid exciting activities that will provoke running and jumping.
Stay away from other animals. Now is not the time for the dog park. Too much excitement or stress could provoke movement that your pet may not be ready to perform. If you have several cats, keep them separated from the recovering one if they tend to get playful.
Ask about a “cone”. Also called an Elizabethan collar, a cone collar will help to prevent chewing at stitches or anxiety-fueled grooming. Make sure it fits properly before leaving our office.
Watch for signs of pain. Whimpering, whining, difficulty getting comfortable, shrinking from touch, and behavioral changes can be signs that your pet is in pain. Let us know if your pet seems to be very uncomfortable, so that we can help you manage their pain.
And of course, always call us if you feel that something is “off” after surgery. We can assess your situation over the phone and bring you back in for a checkup if we suspect your pet isn’t recovering as expected.