How to care for a dog after surgery

Surgery is stressful for owners, regardless if it is relatively safe spaying or neuterin procedure, or something more serious. To care for the dog after the surgery may rise several challenges. A good veterinarian always gives explicit instruction to an owner, but not always the message gets across.

It’s understandable, not all vets are up for the task, and quite often the pet owner is under high stress and nods affirmatively to every sentence without actually hearing them. It’s normal. If this happened to you, don’t worry.

a dog after the surgery wearing e-collar
Photo by pwever, cc

In this article, you will learn how to care for dogs after the surgery and what to do if problems arise. But please, do not be ashamed to call your veterinarian if you have uncertainties. It’s normal to ask.

The first day after surgery is the hardest

The first day after surgery is the most dangerous and very hard for both — dogs and their owners.

Take note that your dog might still be affected by anesthesia and most probably won’t act adequately to the world. This means that YOU have to take all the care for your dog.

Your dog will need a lot of rest during first day of the postoperative period. Place him in a warm place on the floor. Make sure that it is not too hot nor too cold. Anesthesia makes it impossible for your dog to identify if he’s cold or hot. And even if he would sense it, he probably won’t have enough energy to move to someplace else. And that is good; your dog needs to rest, not walk around.

Don’t place your dog on a bed or other surface that he might fall off. Make sure he has no access to the stairs. During the first day, your dog might try to walk around without his mind turned fully on. Movement is, in most cases, clumsy and dog cannot predict and see obstacles.

Offer food and water to your dog. He may refuse it, and do not push if this happens. Water, however, is essential. The dog might not feel that he’s thirsty, but during the postoperative period, he should consume even more water than usual.

Pour only a small amount of water in the bowl and do not leave your dog unattended while drinking. Because of anesthesia, your dog may fall asleep head first in a bowl.

If your dog is shaking, it is most likely because of anesthesia and does not indicate whether your dog is cold. Check, however, the room’s temperature. Don’t place your dog next to radiators or in direct sunlight. Check if he’s not too hot or too cold regularly.

Wound care after a surgery

Dog wearing cone after surgery
chris.corwin, cc

Wound care is an essential part of caring for a dog after surgery. The faster they heal, the shorter postoperative period, lower risk of complications, and infection.

Make sure wounds are clean and not covered in pus and scab. Clean them with antibacterial soap or hydrogen peroxide. Change bandages regularly if any. Strictly follow instructions of your vet.

Wounds may be bleeding a bit and may release colorless fluid. This is okay and does not require much attention. Make sure they are clean.

However, if wounds are bleeding a lot or release white or yellowish fluid — call your veterinary. Do not hesitate even if you are not quite sure about the amount or color of the fluid. Why take chances? Nothing terrible will happen if you call your vet and find out there is nothing to worry.

Make sure your dog or any other pets do not lick wounds. It may cause an infection, pull out sutures, and delay healing. If necessary, use cone collar, clothes (shirts, pants) or separate your dog from other pets.

Limit your dog’s activity during the postoperative period. Don’t take him for long walks, do not allow to run and jump as it may result in the opening of wounds.

As we said above — the hardest part of the postoperative period is the first and sometimes the second day after surgery. Your dog needs special care and much attention during those days. Maybe it is not a bad idea to take a day or two off work to watch after your dog.

If you encounter ANY problems during the postoperative period, do not hesitate to call a vet. Even if your vet already instructed you how to care for your dog after the surgery, do not be ashamed to call again.