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Caring for Your Dog After Surgery

As a loving pet parent, you will play an essential role in your pup's recovery from surgery. Attentive, diligent post-op care will help your canine companion return to their daily routine as quickly as possible. Today our Santa Clarita vets share tips on how to care for your dog after surgery.

Always Follow Your Vet's Post-Op Instructions

In the days leading up to and after surgery, both you and your dog will likely be feeling some stress. However, understanding how to care for your canine companion after they settle in at home is critical to helping them get back to their routine as soon as possible.

Once your dog's surgery is complete and your pup is ready to be discharged you will receive clear, detailed instructions from your vet about how to care for your dog at home. Heeding these and complying with them will be vital to a safe, successful recovery. If you do not understand any of the steps recommended, make sure to clarify.

If you feel unsure or forget anything to do with your pup's post-operative care instructions, contact your vet's office right away. Your veterinary team will be happy to clarify or verify any issue you may have questions about.

Whether our veterinarians performed the procedure or referred your pooch to a specialist, our team at Valencia Veterinary Center in Santa Clarita is committed to providing your dog with attentive, high-quality care, including helping you understand the required at-home care for your dog after surgery.

Effects of General Anesthetic

In most cases, your veterinarian will use a general anesthetic to keep your dog unconscious throughout the surgery and prevent your pup from experiencing pain during procedure. The effects of anesthesia may take some time to wear off after the procedure is performed.

Feeding Your Dog After Surgery

It is not unusual for dogs to refuse to eat right after surgery. In addition to nausea, this is a common after-effect of the anesthetic. You might consider offering a half-size portion of a light meal such as chicken or rice. Your dog may find this easier to digest than their regular store-bought food.

Don't be alarmed if your dog is not eating after surgery. Your pup’s appetite should return within about 24 hours. You can then begin to gradually reintroduce their normal food. If it’s been more than 48 hours and your dog still won’t eat after surgery, contact your veterinarian (or vet surgeon if you’ve been referred to one). Loss of appetite can be a sign of infection.

Managing Your Dog’s Pain After Surgery

Following your dog's surgery, your veterinarian will take time to explain any pain relievers or medications they need to prescribe for your pet so you can prevent infection and manage post-surgery discomfort or pain.

The vet will take the time to brief you on the dose required, how often the medication should be administered and how you can do so safely. To prevent unnecessary pain as your dog recovers and to eliminate risk of side effects, be sure to follow these instructions carefully. If you are unsure of any instructions, ask follow-up questions.

Some dogs may be high-strung or experience anxiety post-surgery. If this is the case for your pooch, your vet may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication or sedatives to help your pet remain calm while they heal.

Important Note: Never give your dog human medications without consulting your veterinarian first. While medications for people help us feel better, they are dangerous for our dogs and other pets.

Set Up a Quiet, Comfortable Space

Your dog will need a quiet space to rest and recover. This spot should have a soft bed with room for them to spread out, away from the hustle of the rest of the household. This soft bed is important as it can help prevent undue pressure on bandaged or sensitive parts of your pet’s body.

Dog Shaking or Coughing After Surgery

Have you noticed your dog shaking or coughing after surgery?

If your dog had a tube placed in their trachea (windpipe) while receiving anesthesia, this may have caused mild irritation and a slight cough. A mild post-surgical cough will usually diminish over the next few days. Contact our hospital if coughing persists or worsens.

Shaking after surgery is typically an after-effect of anesthesia or pain control medication. Have your pet frequently eat small amounts of food, then hold them in your lap or sit next to them while speaking to them and giving lots of reassuring pets. The extra love and attention will help.

Restrict your Pet’s Movement

For a specified period after surgery, your vet may recommend limiting your dog’s movement and physical activity. Sudden stretching or jumping can disrupt recovery and cause incisions to reopen.

Depending on the surgery, you may not need to take significant measures such as complete cage or crate rest to confine your dog. Most dogs will be able to stay inside for a few days, making essential trips for bathroom breaks outdoors.

That said, you may find it difficult to prevent your dog from climbing stairs or jumping on furniture they like to nap on. To prevent him from doing this, if you are unable to provide direct supervision you may need to keep your pup in a safe, comfortable room of the house.

If your dog happens to be recovering from orthopedic surgery, they may need to be confined to a smaller room or pen with gradually increasing amounts of exercise as recovery progresses.

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.

Is your dog in need of surgery to treat illness or an injury? Call our Valencia Veterinary Center vets to learn more about soft-tissue and orthopedic surgery options at our Santa Clarita animal hospital.

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