Post-Surgery Care Tips For Your Pet


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Post-Surgery Care Tips For Your Pet

Similar to humans, pets can have an uncomfortable time recovering from surgery. Therefore, as the owner of a pet, it is up to you and the rest of your family to aid them in the recovery by ensuring that they’re warm and comfortable at home—and by following the below post-surgery care tips.

To make certain that your pet is fully comfortable during the surgery, your pet will be provided a general anesthetic and/or a sedative. Your pet may also be provided pain relief to take care of any soreness following the surgery, especially for sterilizations.

The anesthetic that is administered to your pet will be through an IV in your pet’s front leg, so you will later see a clipped area on your pet’s foreleg. Alternatively, the anesthetic may be a gas and be administered through a special tube in your pet’s windpipe. There are some instances when the tube may result in some irritation, resulting in a mild cough after the surgical procedure. As a general rule, this will clear up after 24 hours. In the event that irritation and coughing persists, contact your veterinarian.

Is it normal for your pet to seem incredibly sleepy?

The general anesthetic and/or sedative that your pet has been given can take several hours to wear off. In some instances, it can result in your pet appearing to be drowsy for a day or two. After this period of time, your pet’s behavior should be back to normal.

Can you feed your pet the evening after the surgery?

Your pet may not feel like him or herself, and eating his or her regular diet may result in vomiting. However, if your pet appears to be up and about looking for his or her food, then you can offer a small amount unless your veterinarian has indicated not to do so. Make sure that there is plenty of fresh water accessible to your pet. You can return to offering your pet his or her regular diet the day following the surgery unless your veterinarian has said otherwise.

What Should You Do If Your Pet Chews or Licks His or Her Stitches?

If your pet received stitches during the surgery, he or she may lick or chew them resulting in harm or infection. In the event that your pet is showing a direct interest in the wound, you may want to consider an Elizabethan collar, which is a bucket-like device that your pet will wear around his or her neck. This device will keep your pet from being able to mess with his or her wound.

Caring for Your Pet’s Wound

During the post-surgery period (roughly 10 to 14 days after the procedure), you will need to check the surgical site twice a day to make sure that it is dry and clean. In addition, you will want to inspect for signs of odor, heat, swelling, skin irritation, discharge, gaping, as well as self-inflicted damage.

In the event that your pet requires a bandage, you need to make sure that it does not get soiled with dirt or wet. If your pet needs to go outside for any reason, make sure to use a plastic bag to cover the bandage and use tape to secure it in place.

If a drain has been inserted into the surgical site, you may see some ooze/discharge over the next few days. This is entirely normal, and the drain has been placed to encourage fluid movement away from the surgical site. To prevent clogging of the drain, it is a good idea to clean the drain twice daily with warm salt water, but you should avoid using soap.

If something doesn’t seem right, what should your next steps be?

If you are worried about your pet’s healthy after the surgery, make sure that you contact the veterinarian or the animal hospital where the surgery was performed immediately. If it is after-hours, contact the nearest open animal hospital immediately.

Signs That May Indicate Issues

  • Vomiting – Especially after 24 hours
  • Lethargy – Especially after 24 hours
  • Swelling around the surgical site
  • Excessive redness around the surgical site
  • Discharge from the wound
  • Bleeding from the wound

Information about the Elizabethan Collar

These collars are easy to put on and remove when needed. Unless your veterinarian instructed you to do so, the collar should not be removed unless the pet is under complete supervision. Generally, pets learn to eat, sleep, and perform normal activities after a day or two. After a few days, the risk of self-injury will be reduced. 

Caring for Your Pet at the House

We will provide you with complete instructions regarding drinking, feeding, and activity levels. In addition, we will give you information regarding follow-up appointments as well as follow-up care and removal for drains, stitches, and bandages.

For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us at Huntsville Veterinary Specialists & Emergency.