After your dog has had surgery, you can play a pivotal role in helping them fully recover. Attentive, diligent post-op care is essential to help them return to their daily routine as soon as possible. Today, our Upland vets share some tips for how to care for your dog after surgery.
Always Follow Surgery Post-Op Instructions
Before and after surgery, both you and your dog might feel stressed. But knowing how to take care of your furry friend once they're home is really important to help them get back to their normal routine quickly.
After the surgery, your vet will give you clear and detailed instructions on how to take care of your dog at home. It's really important to follow these instructions to ensure a safe and successful recovery. If you don't understand any of the recommended steps, make sure to ask for clarification.
If you come home and realize you forgot how to do a specific step from the vet's instructions, you can call our office to double-check. Depending on the type of surgery needed, it will either be done at our place or we'll refer you to a skilled vet near Upland.
Whether our vets do the surgery or refer you to a specialist, our veterinary team at Upland is dedicated to providing excellent care for your dog. We'll also give you advice on things you can do at home that will make a big difference, like post-operative care.
Effects of General Anesthetic
Your vet likely used a general anesthetic to keep your dog unconscious and prevent them from experiencing pain during surgery. The effects of anesthesia may take some time to wear off after the procedure is performed.
Feeding Your Dog After Surgery
After surgery, it's normal for your dog to experience a temporary loss or decrease in appetite. This can happen due to the effects of the anesthesia and may be accompanied by nausea. To help your dog, you can try offering a smaller portion of a light meal like chicken or rice, which can be easier for them to digest compared to their regular store-bought food.
Typically, your dog's appetite should return within about 24 hours after the operation. At that point, you can gradually reintroduce their regular food. However, if it has been more than 48 hours and your dog still refuses to eat after surgery, it's important to reach out to your veterinarian or the vet surgeon if you were referred to one.
A loss of appetite could be a sign of infection, and they can provide further guidance and assistance.
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 the 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 Shaking or Coughing After Surgery
Have you noticed your dog shaking or coughing after surgery? If your dog had a tube placed in his or her 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.
Typically, if a dog is shaking after surgery, this won’t be due to a cold or pain but after-effects from 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 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.
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 him from doing this, if you are unable to provide direct supervision you may need to keep your pup in a safe, comfortable room of the house.
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.