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How to Help Your Dog After Surgery

Providing attentive, diligent post-operative care after your dog's surgery can help to keep your pup comfortable and speed their recovery. This post looks at some common post-operative recommendations for pets.

Follow Post-Op Instructions Provided by Your Vet

In the days leading up to and immediately after your dog's surgery, both you and your pup will likely be a bit anxious. 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.

Depending on the procedure required, the surgery could either be performed in-house at your vet's clinic or your dog will be referred to a professional veterinary surgeon.

Following your dog’s procedure, you will 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 arrive home and realize you’ve forgotten how to complete a specific step in the instructions, call your vet's office to verify. 

Our team at PetVax Complete Care Centers 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.

There Will Likely Be Side Effects Due To 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.

Loss of Appetite Is a Common Side Effect

If your dog won't eat after surgery try not to be alarmed. 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.

Be patient if your dog is reluctant to eat after surgery. Your pup’s appetite should return within about 24 hours. You can then begin to gradually introduce 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.

Administer Your Dog's Medications As Directed

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 reduce 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.

Provide a Quiet, Comfortable Place For Your Dog to Rest

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 After Surgery 

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. Extra love and attention often help.

Dog 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 the coughing persists or worsens.

Keeping Your Dog Calm & Quiet While Recovering

Your vet will likely recommend limiting your dog’s movement and physical activity for a specific period of time after their surgery. Sudden stretching or jumping can disrupt recovery and cause incisions to reopen.

Depending on the type of surgery that your dog has had, you may not need to take significant measures such as 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 help prevent jumping and climbing stairs you may need to confine your pup to a small comfortable room of the house whenever you are unable to provide direct supervision.

Dogs recovering from orthopedic surgery may need to be confined to a particularly small space such as a crate or a laundry room-sized space for a period of time, with nothing more than on-lease bathroom breaks. As your dog recovers your vet will advise you to gradually increase amounts of exercise, but always wait until your vet says that your dog has healed enough to move to the next step of their recovery.

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.

If you have any questions about your dog's upcoming surgery at PetVax Complete Care Centers, contact us right away. Our Memphis vets and support staff are always happy to answer questions from our clients.

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