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Guide to Dog Post-Surgical Recovery

Guide to Dog Post-Surgical Recovery

The recovery process is crucial to the success of your dog's surgery. But what exactly does the recovery process entail? Our dog surgeons in Egg Harbor Township discuss post-surgical recovery for dogs and what you can do to help.

The Importance of Following Post-Surgical Instructions

Undergoing a surgical procedure can be frightening and it is no different for your pet. Your pet surgeon is here to ensure that it goes as smoothly and successfully as possible. They will also ensure that recovery goes well by providing you with all of the information needed to properly care for your pet after the surgery.

After surgery, the veterinary surgeon will provide you with any post-surgical information as well as any care instructions that you may need. These instructions are usually precise and will need to be followed closely, be sure to speak with your vet if you have any questions. 

Once you are home with your pet you may not remember some of the post-op instructions that you were provided, and if you need to ask any more questions or have anything clarified be sure to call your veterinary surgeon. Our vet surgeons in Egg Harbor Township are dedicated to providing the best care possible for your pet.

How long does it take for a dog to recover from surgery?

When it comes to cat and dog surgery, the recovery time is typically much quicker for procedures involving soft tissue such as spay or neuter surgery. Other surgeries which involve joints, bones or ligaments will usually take much longer to heal.

If your pet has undergone surgery on soft tissue then you should expect your pet to be feeling more like itself around two or three weeks post-op. Although for your pet to be fully healed from surgery it could take around six weeks.

If your cat or dog has undergone pet surgery in Egg Harbor Township that involves their bones, joints, or ligaments then you should expect the healing process to reach about 80% around 8 to 12 weeks into recovery. In order for your pet to fully recover from their surgery, it may take as long as six months.

How can rehabilitative care help my dog recover from surgery?

With pet rehabilitation, your pet will receive targeted treatments and therapies which will help them throughout the recovery process after having surgery.

Some common rehabilitative therapies for dogs include:

  • Heat Therapy and Cryotherapy - Heat or cold supplied by packs applied to specific areas of your pet's body before or after exercise in order to increase their tissue's extensibility. 
  • Laser Therapy - A non-invasive and drug-free therapy using lasers to help rehabilitate patients after physical trauma. It can also be helpful for reducing pain and inflammation. 
  • Neuromuscular Stimulation - Using a specific wavelength of electricity to create muscle contractions to strengthen your pet's muscles, restore their mobility, reduce muscle atrophy and more. 

How Can I Help Manage My Pet's Pain?

Pain management will be an important part of your dog's post-surgical care. By keeping them pain-free you can help ensure the success of their recovery and by extension. their surgery.

Your cat or dog's surgeon will thoroughly explain the medication and what it is used to treat, what the dosage is and any other instructions that you will need to know about administering the medication. It is important to follow these instructions exactly as this will ensure that your pet recovers with ease and lowers the risk of possible side effects. If you have any questions be sure to reach out to your vet surgeon.

Following the procedure, your vet may prescribe medications such as pain medications or antibiotics to assist with your pet's recovery. Some pets also suffer from anxiety and in these cases, your vet surgeon may also prescribe an anxiety medication in order to help keep your pet relaxed through the duration of the healing process.

Never give your pet human medications as these can be fatal to your pet.

How Can I Make My Pet Comfortable While Recovering?

It is very important to provide your pet with a safe space that they can use to relax quietly and recover without being disturbed. Ensure that they are kept away from any excitement until they are fully healed such as children, household excitement and other pets. Providing them with a soft bed will allow them to lie down comfortably without putting pressure on the surgical site.

Keep Your Pet Relaxed

Jumping is one of the main sources of complications after dog surgery in Egg Harbor Township so it is important to try to help keep your dog calm and relaxed.

Most pets will do just fine without resorting to confinement. The main thing is just to avoid playtime and keep trips outdoors for necessary walks.

If your pet enjoys jumping up on the furniture then it is recommended to keep them in an area where they will be unable to do this.

Using a Kennel During Recovery

While confining your pet is not necessary for recovery after every surgery, it may be suggested for many. Orthopedic surgeries are one that may require confinement or crate rest in order to prevent your pet from moving and causing complications. If confinement is recommended for your pet after surgery then there are ways to ensure that this experience is still a positive one for your pet.

The crate should be large enough for your pet to comfortably turn around while having plenty of space for any dishes and their bed. It is important that they can move freely without knocking over dishes in order to keep their crate clean and avoid getting wet or dirty while wearing bandages.

Caring For The Wound During Recovery

Most of the time your vet surgeon will opt to use internal stitches which will dissolve over time and not require removal.

For stitches that are on the outside of the wound, you will need to bring your pet back in approximately 2 weeks in order to have these removed. Your veterinary surgeon will let you know what is required before you leave.

How To Protect The Incision

While it may not always be a concern, some pets may lick, bite, or chew at their bandages and the incision site. For these pets, it may be recommended to fit them with a cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in both soft and hard versions) in order to ensure that this doesn't happen.

There are many different versions of this product on the market that will all provide the same result.

Ensure The Bandages Stay Clean and Dry

One of the most important things is to be sure that your pet's bandages stay clean and dry in order for the wound to heal quickly and to avoid possible infection.

Covering your pet's wound in plastic wrap will ensure that the bandages are safe if your pet needs to go outside at all. Using plastic wrap will keep the bandages clean from dirt, grass and water. It is important to remove this plastic wrap as soon as you bring your pet back inside.

What are some signs to look out for after surgery?

While uncommon, there are some possible symptoms and conditions that could occur after veterinary surgery. If your pet experiences any of these signs, please contact your veterinary surgeon. Some of these signs and symptoms are:

  • Straining or discomfort during bowel movements or while urinating
  •  Vomiting
  • Shaking (In dogs that don't normally shake)
  • Seizures
  • Heavy or difficult breathing
  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Runny nose with yellow or blood-tinged discharge
  • Infection

What are the signs of infection?

Your pet surgeon in Egg Harbor Township will have done everything in their power to ensure that your dog doesn't experience any complications as a result of the surgery. However, it is still important to look for any signs that something may be wrong and inform your vet immediately if this is the case.

Unfortunately, some infections affect the internal systems while having little to no outward appearance. 

If the infection is affecting the internal systems of your pet you may notice:

  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Lack of Appetite
For infections of the wound, you may see signs such as:
  • The incision area could be red and painful.
  • Swilling or discharge in the area of the incision.
  • Your pet may not be moving around much.
  • Your pet is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.

If you are concerned that your pet may be experiencing an infection, call your veterinary surgeon right away. Your vet may want to run tests and examine your pet for any signs of possible infection.

Your Dog's Follow-Up Exam

Bringing your pet in for a follow-up exam after their veterinary surgery in Egg Harbor Township is crucial for allowing your vet to look for any signs of complications.

During the follow-up exam, your vet surgeon will check on the area as well as the incision and replace any bandages as needed.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned about your dog's recovery after surgery? Contact our Egg Harbor Township dog surgeons to schedule an examination.

Always Welcoming New Patients

At Newkirk Family Veterinarians, we always accept new patients into our veterinary family. Our veterinarians are passionate about the health and well-being of Egg Harbor Township pets. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment. 

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