Companion Animal

Helping Your Pet Recover After Surgery

Jun 2 • 3 minute read

Surgery can be a stressful time for pets and pet parents alike. Because your pet can’t tell you when they aren’t feeling well, it will be on you to monitor their health and provide the care they need to recover as quickly as possible. Be sure to follow your vet’s instructions and follow these basic tips to help your pet recover after surgery.

Restrict Activity

After surgery, your vet will most likely recommend limiting your pet’s physical activity and movement for some time. Jumping, running, or using the stairs could potentially reopen an incision and disrupt your pet’s recovery. Depending on the surgery, your pet may need “crate rest” or tethering when you’re unable to supervise them directly. Most pets will be able to cope well with being confined to a small room or area of the house with an occasional trip outside as required. Trips outside should be on-leash only.

Use an E-Collar

Allowing your pet to lick, chew, or scratch at their incision site increases the risk of infection or disrupting stitches. A plastic cone-shaped Elizabethan collar (E-collar) is an effective way to prevent your furry companion from reaching the wound. If your pet is struggling to get used to the cone, speak to your vet about other effective options, such as post-surgery jumpsuits or donut-style collars.

Provide a Safe Recovery Place

Your pet will need a lot of sleep and a quiet space to rest and recover. Set up a soft, calm environment that is removed from the rest of the household. Provide them with blankets and a soft bed that gives them plenty of room to spread out. Avoid hard surfaces as they may put pressure on sensitive or bandaged parts of your pet’s body. If you have other pets or small children, it’s a good idea to keep your recovering pet in a separate room.

Adhere to Medication Schedules

It’s important that you adhere to your vet’s instructions and medication schedules to prevent unnecessary pain and other side effects. Oftentimes, your vet will prescribe pain medication to relieve discomfort and antibiotics to prevent infection. If needed, your pet may also be prescribed a sedative or anti-anxiety medication so their body can focus on healing. Never give human medication to your pet or use home remedies without consulting your vet first.

Practice Proper Wound Management

Proper wound care reduces infections and helps your pet heal faster. If needed, your vet will give you instructions for cleansing the wound or changing the bandage. Look out for signs of infection, including excessive redness, bruising, swelling, bleeding, oozing, heat, and odors. Make sure your pet’s bandages stay dry at all times. If they must go outside, cover the bandage with a plastic bag or wrap to prevent dirt or dampness from getting between the bandage and their skin.

Keep Your Pet Happy During Recovery

Your four-legged friend may become frustrated at the itchiness of their incision site or the reduced level of activity. Panting, pacing, digging, restlessness, whining, and excessive meowing or barking are signs that your pet may be anxious or in pain. Take time out of your day to sit quietly with your pet, talking to them and stroking their fur calmly. Also, keep them amused with gentle games to help prevent boredom.

Attend the Follow-Up Appointment

Typically, your pet will need to go back in for a follow-up appointment. This will allow your vet to monitor your pet’s progress and look for signs of infection. During this visit, your vet will remove the skin sutures and change your pet’s bandage to keep them on track for a full recovery. Post-op rehabilitation therapies may be recommended to help strengthen your pet’s joints and muscles and prevent problems that may develop in the future.

Following your vet’s post-surgery instructions will give your pet the best chance to heal quickly and get back to their normal lifestyle as soon as possible. It’s important to consult your vet if you’re ever unsure about your pet’s postoperative health.

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