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Tips on Caring for Your Dog After Surgery

Once your four-legged friend recovers from surgery and is ready to return home, you will likely have a list of instructions in the proper care of your dog. Although you may feel nervous initially, the medical team typically answers any questions you might have, offers reassurance and arranges for a follow-up appointment. 

After Surgery

With the procedure completed, the veterinarian usually visits with family members to explain how your beloved pet made it through surgery and findings the team may have encountered. You might be able to spend a brief amount of time with your dog, as it recovers. Simply ask if a quick visit is possible.

Discharge Day

On the day you arrive to bring your dog home, they will more than likely be more than happy to be reunited. At this time, a veterinary technician provides home-care instructions and offers recommendations. Depending on the type of surgery your pet endured, he or she may require limited physical activity in order to recover and heal properly. Special lift and carry procedures might also be necessary. Some pets may need a modified diet. Ask any questions you might have and be clear about the instructions. Ask who you should call in case of an after-hour emergency.

Finally Home

Your dog may seem a little groggy from anesthesia for the first few hours after returning home if they had outpatient surgery. Once home, provide them with a safe, warm place to rest or sleep until they feel more like themselves. Some procedures require your pet remain as still as possible while recovering.

You might be instructed to keep the dog immobilized in a crate for a specific length of time in order to protect the surgical site and prevent possible injury. Offer reassurance, special treats and perhaps their favorite toys. Turn on a radio or TV when not in the room. This trick helps keep your dog from feeling lonely when you are not within close proximity.

Small dogs might enjoy recuperating in a BedHug dog blanket. The dog blanket simply wraps around the top of a pet bed, and creates a soft canopy under which they might burrow. The BedHug helps maintain your dog's body heat while helping them feel more safe, secluded and secure.

Take your dog out as needed to void or defecate. For their safety, keep them on a leash at this time. The fluids provided before, during and after surgery may mean your pet needs to eliminate more than normal.

In many instances, pets must take pain medications for a few days. The formulations may also make them feel a bit disoriented or groggy while delaying reflexes. Restrict their activity and be mindful of potential hazards. Monitor food and fluid intake. Offer small amounts of food initially until they exhibit more normal behavior.

Surgical Site

Although some swelling and bruising is normal following surgery, you must continue monitoring the site for any signs of heat, drainage or bleeding. Swelling and redness should begin diminishing. Your dog may need to wear an Elizabethan collar for a specified number of days in order to prevent them from scratching or biting the site.

Typical Recovery

If the surgery involved simple neutering, your pet should be back to normal within a few days to a few weeks. If the procedure involved a hip replacement, fracture repair or limb removal, the recovery time is naturally extended to two to three months.

Follow-up Appointment

A return appointment is often necessary to remove a cast or sutures and possibly to x-ray the site. Your veterinarian will also monitor the animal's recovery process during this time. Depending on the reason why your friend needed surgery, the physician may recommend an increase in physical activity, physical therapy exercises or other treatments to ensure continued healing.