After your pup undergoes surgery, you play a key role in helping their full and quick recovery. Diligent and attentive post-operative care is critical to helping your dog return to their daily routine as soon as possible. Here, our Torrance vets share some tips on how you can help your dog recovery after surgery.
Always Follow Surgery Post-Op Instructions
In the days leading up to and following your dog's surgery, you and they will likely both feel some amount of stress. Knowing how to best care for your canine companion after they settle back at home will be key to helping them return to their usual routines and life as soon as possible.
Following your dog’s procedure, you’ll 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.
If you've arrived home and realized that you forgot how to complete a specific step in your vet's post-operative care instructions, you can always call them to verify. Depending on the nature of your dog's procedure, their surgery will either be performed in-house or by referral to a professional vet surgeon in the Torrance area.
Whether our veterinarians perform the procedure or need to refer you to a specialist, our team at Torrance Companion Animal Hospital 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
Your veterinarian will have likely used general anesthetic to keep your pup unconscious and prevent them from experiencing pain during their surgery. The effects of this anesthesia may take some time to wear off after your dog's surgery is performed.
Feeding Your Dog After Surgery
Your dog may lack or lose their appetite temporarily after surgery. 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.
After their operation, your pup's appetite should return within about 24 hours. Then, you can start gradually reintroducing their normal food to their diet. If it has been longer than 48 hours and you dog is continuing to not eat, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Longer-term loss of appetite after surgery can be a sign of infection.
Managing Your Dog’s Pain After Surgery
Following your pup's surgery, your vet will take the time to explain any pain relievers or medications they are prescribing to your pet so they can prevent infection and unnecessary post-surgery pain and discomfort.
Your vets will brief you on the dosage of medication needed, how often the medication should be administered and how you will be able to do so safely. In order to prevent unnecessary pain and eliminate any risk of side effects, make sure you follow these instructions as carefully as possible. If you aren't sure of any of the instructions provided by your vet, contact them and 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
After their procedure, your pup will need a quiet space to rest up and recover. This space should have a soft bed with room for your dog to spread out and get comfortable as well, it should be set back from 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 specific surgery your pet is undergoing, you may not actually need to make a significant effort to restrict your pet's movement with measures like crate rest. However, most dogs need to remain inside for a few days, only making essential trips to 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 is recovering from an orthopedic procedure, they may need to be confined to a pen that is laundry hamper-sized or smaller with gradually increasing amounts of exercise being allowed as time goes on and their 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.