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How to Treat a Dog After Surgery

Taking your dog to surgery is often a daunting and stressful experience—not only for your beloved pet, but also for you! You can breathe a little more easily once surgery is over and your pet’s ready to be sent home, but you won’t be off the hook yet. The next few days or even weeks are a crucial recovery period. While the specific protocol varies based on the kind of surgery and your pet’s condition, here are the basics of how you can take care of your pet so they will be up and about in no time:

Follow your vet’s instructions

When your vet’s informing you about how discharge will work, it’s the right time to ask questions and express any concerns. Medication will come up in the discussion: how often to give, its purpose, the expected reaction from your pet, and possible side-effects. These medications are often antibiotics for preventing infection or painkillers to ease the discomfort. As much as possible, take notes and get your vet’s contact information in case you need help the next few days. You’ll also need to schedule a follow-up appointment for changing your dog’s bandages—don’t change them yourself!

Allow for proper rest

For one to two days after surgery, it’s likely that your pet will still be lethargic, restless, and unable to move around as usual. While the general anaesthetic and/or sedative is still wearing off, sleep is essential. Give them some peace and quiet by placing them somewhere cozy and comfortable, where they won’t be disturbed. Crates and play pens are ideal for small dogs, while medium or large dogs would ideally stay in a small room instead so they won’t feel claustrophobic. Keep beddings and blankets to one side, with plenty of space left for dogs to move to in case they want to cool down.

Avoid too much activity

Once your dog’s drowsiness has lessened, don’t expect them to be frisky right away. In fact, it’s best to take it slowly, so don’t let them run or jump around just yet! This might be counterintuitive for your pet because they’d love to release all that pent-up energy from confinement, but you wouldn’t want them delaying their recovery for that. Excessive activity causes wounds to heal much more slowly, or worse, they might not even heal properly. To be on the safe side, maintain this for two months and keep your dog distracted and pacified with chew toys.

Choose the right kind of food

Beyond activity and rest, you also have to be mindful of what your pet is eating. Because your pet will be feeling nauseous from the anaesthetic right after surgery, set aside their normal dog treats and feed them a light, easily digestible diet instead, such as cooked chicken or fish with rice. With your vet’s instructions and prescription in mind, supervise their eating and drinking, making sure that there’s no sign of discomfort. Once they’re more energetic, you can switch them back to their normal food. Having fresh water around all the time is also important, so your pet won’t get dehydrated.

Prevent licking

When your dog has a wound (or stitches from surgery), the natural instinct is to lick it or even chew on it, which is a major no-no! Aside from slowing down healing, this might cause infection or wreak damage on the tissue. A common way to prevent this is to have your dog put on an Elizabethan collar. Shaped like a massive cone, it effectively blocks your dog from reaching the wound with their mouth! Alternatively—if you’d rather go DIY or if an Elizabethan collar is too chunky for your taste—you can resort to wrapping cloth around the wound or dressing up your dog to avoid contact.

Be there for your pet

Paying careful attention to your dog is a must after surgery, especially during the first few days when they’re especially vulnerable. Giving them your full focus, whether through snuggling or talking, can reassure them greatly, and your presence alone—even when you’re doing something else—can be soothing. However, if you’ll be outside most of the time, you can use a pet monitor so you can look after your dog even while you’re away. From motion detectors to smartphone gadgets for video chatting, you have hundreds of options. When searching for the best wifi monitors to look after your furry friend, consider many factors, such as price, recording capabilities, and physical setup.

Like human beings, dogs needs lots of rest and TLC right after their surgery. It may require a bit more effort on your part, but you can see this as a bonding experience between you and your pet. Watching your pet get stronger each day is heartening, and once you’ve made it, you’ll have a very grateful and eager dog on your hands!


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