Recovery from surgery is a critical time no matter what the procedure. Be it a routine spay, a knee surgery, or an emergency foreign body removal, you play an important role in your pet’s healing. Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services does everything we can to ensure that our furry patients have the best surgical outcomes possible, but a large portion of post surgical pet care falls onto you, as the pet parent.
Key Components of Post Surgical Pet Care
Knowing what to expect during your pet’s recovery and making some basic preparations can help get things off on the right foot (or paw). When your pet is discharged from the hospital, you will be given detailed instructions about your pet’s care. This may include exercise restrictions, incision and/or bandage care, diet instructions, medication administration, and other nursing care. Be sure to let us know if something is unclear or you are unable to complete the instructions as dictated.
When you bring your pet home, it is also important to give him or her a safe, comfortable place to rest. Be sure that your four-legged patient:
- Is warm and dry
- Has a nicely padded surface to lie on
- Has easy access to food and water, if not restricted
- Has privacy from other pets and family members if desired
- Is kept in a quiet, low-traffic area
- Does not need to navigate obstacles like stairs
You are your pet’s advocate during the recovery period as well. Pay close attention to things like appetite, elimination habits, pain level, and activity level and alert us right away if there are any concerns.
Playing Your Pet’s Nurse
Besides giving your pet a little peace and quiet and following directions, after surgery you may need to play an active role in your friend’s care. We will go over specific nursing instructions with you, however some common tasks that may need to be performed include:
Monitoring vitals – We may show you how to monitor your pet’s pulse, respirations, and/or body temperature during the post op period.
Bandage or wound care – Post surgical pet care may include taking care of incisions or bandages. In general it is important to keep the area clean and dry and to prevent your pet from licking or otherwise bothering the area. Let us know right away if there is unexpected drainage, swelling, or odor.
Medication administration – If your pet has been prescribed medications, it is important to remember that they have been prescribed for a reason and it is important that you follow the directions carefully. Be sure to finish them unless otherwise directed and let us know if you have concerns or suspect side effects. Never increase, alter, or add medications without consulting us and pay attention to special instructions such as the need for refrigeration. Most of our pet patients will take medications in a special treat such as peanut butter, cream cheese, or a pill pocket (if medically appropriate). We can help you learn how to “pill” your pet if needed, though.
It is also important for you as a pet owner to keep up with your pet’s scheduled recheck appointments. During the postoperative period it is essential that we know how your pet is doing so that we can ensure a successful recovery.
Post surgical pet care can be a little overwhelming, but please know that we are here to help. No matter what surgery your four-legged family member has had, we are happy to help you both get through the recovery period.