10 Tips to Ensure Your Pet’s Successful Surgical Recovery
Jan 19, 2021
If your pet recently had surgery, you want to ensure their successful recovery. Our team of board-certified veterinary surgeons uses the least invasive surgical techniques possible to minimize tissue damage and inflammation, and to decrease healing time. But, you also can take steps at home to keep your pet as comfortable as possible, and ensure a speedy recovery. Here are our DVSC team’s favorite surgical recovery tips and tricks to help your pet get back on their paws in no time.
#1: Keep your pet’s e-collar on
If your pet has an incision, they will likely be sent home with an e-collar to prevent them from licking and biting their sutures. The e-collar may limit your pet’s normal activities and make you feel bad for them. But, don’t be tempted to remove the collar, because in only a few minutes, your pet can chew out their sutures, or lick their incision enough to cause inflammation or infection. Keep your pet’s e-collar on at all times, with one exception—if necessary, you may remove the e-collar while they eat, provided you supervise them.
#2: Ensure your pet stays calm
Excessive activity can cause a range of surgical complications, from incisional swelling and postoperative bleeding to surgical failure. Although keeping your pet calm may be a challenge, that’s critical for proper healing to occur. Try keeping your pet in a crate or bathroom to limit their activity while you are not able to supervise them. Speak with your veterinarian about using a mild sedative if your rambunctious pet refuses to stay calm.
#3: Administer your pet’s medications
Medications may be sent home with your pet to prevent inflammation and infection, and boost healing. You must administer all medications as instructed by your pet’s veterinary team to ensure a successful recovery. You may be tempted to stop giving your pet their medication if they seem back to normal, but these medications, particularly pain medications and antibiotics, are important for their recovery. If you have any questions about your pet’s medications, don’t hesitate to contact the DVSC team.
#4: Keep an eye on your pet’s incision
Check your pet’s incision at least once a day for complications such as swelling, bleeding, or infection signs, including redness, tenderness, or discharge. If you think your pet’s incision is not healing, contact us with questions or concerns immediately. Infection or inflammation can delay healing, and must be addressed quickly.
If you have been instructed to apply ice to your pet’s incision to keep swelling and inflammation at bay, follow your veterinary team’s instructions.
#5: Follow instructions regarding your pet’s bandage
If your pet has a bandage or cast, follow your veterinary team’s instructions closely to prevent potentially serious consequences. Tissue under a bandage can become infected or necrotic if the bandage becomes wet, or is too tight or loose. Keep all appointments with our team for bandage or cast changes to prevent complications. Also, ensure you follow any instructions for your pet’s bandage at home, changing the bandage on schedule and monitoring the tissue underneath.
#6: Monitor your pet for pain signs
Pain has a variety of negative consequences on your pet’s surgical recovery, including delayed healing. Watch for signs your pet may be in pain, including:
Crying, whining, or whimpering
Refusing to be touched or petted
Inability to walk comfortably
Give your pet’s pain medications on time, whether or not they seem painful—preventing pain is much easier than treating your uncomfortable pet.
#7: Keep your pet clean, dry, and comfortable
Your pet may have trouble getting up for potty breaks during their recovery, and may have an accident. Urine and feces can cause skin irritation, and lead to infection if they contact your pet’s incision. Change any soiled bedding immediately, clean and dry your pet, and check their incision. You may need to help your pet up and support them with a sling while they go outside. Also, ensure your pet has a thick layer of clean, dry blankets or a supportive bed to keep them comfortable during their recovery.
#8: Ensure your pet receives adequate nutrition
Anesthesia medications used during your pet’s procedure may cause inappetance for a short time, but your pet’s appetite should return in 24 hours. If your pet does not eat for more than 24 hours following surgery, contact our team for help. Your pet will not heal properly without proper nutrition, and your veterinarian may prescribe pain medications, appetite stimulants, or other medications to help your pet’s appetite return to normal.
#9: Keep your pet’s follow-up visits
Your pet will need at least one follow-up visit after their surgical procedure with our MissionVet team, or your family veterinarian. These visits are important for us to follow your pet’s progress, ensure their healing is on schedule, and monitor for complications. Your pet may seem to be healing well, but do not skip these visits—your veterinary team can detect slight changes that may indicate impending complications that swift intervention can head off.
#10: Schedule a rehabilitation session for your pet
The same way you may have physical therapy following surgery, many pets can benefit from rehabilitation. DVSC partners with North Texas Animal Rehabilitation to provide your pet the most comprehensive recovery care possible. Rehabilitation has many benefits for pets, including:
Decreased pain and inflammation
Improved strength and coordination
Increased range of motion
If your pet’s veterinary team recommends rehabilitation following their surgery, schedule a session as soon as they are ready to help boost their recovery.
Surgery can be tough, but you can help your pet recover as quickly as possible with these tips. Contact our team if your pet has any postoperative complications, or you have questions during their recovery.