How to Care for Your Pet After Surgery

Pets aren’t just there to keep you company after work, they are truly a part of the family. Just like any other family member, when your pets get sick or sick or hurt, you take them to the vet to be checked out. It’s inevitable that at some point your pet will likely need to go in for some kind of surgery, whether it’s a routine spay/neuter or something more complicated. No matter the procedure, you will want to do everything you can to help your pet feel comfortable and cared for after the procedure because quality care leads to quality healing.

If your pet is about to undergo surgery of any type, here are a few tips to help you care for them as best as you can.

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1. Help Them Use The Bathroom More Often

If your pet was hooked up to an IV and received fluid, they’ll likely need to go to the bathroom more often the day of and the day after surgery. If you have a dog, make sure you take it outside more frequently than normal to ensure its bladder isn’t too full. Likewise, if you have a cat, you may want to clean the litter box a little more often to create a welcoming environment (and avoid accidents in the house).

2. Pet-Proof Your House and Make it Comfortable

If you haven’t already done so leading up to surgery, be sure to pet-proof your house before your pet’s return. You’ll want to be extra cautious to any potential hazards around the home because your pet will be groggy and may hurt itself more easily after a surgery. Additionally, you can create a separate “healing space” (think: recovery room) for your pet when they get home. Make it cozy and keep all essentials closeby for them so they don’t have to travel across the house.

3. Encourage Lots of Rest and Sleep

Just like humans, pets require lots of rest and sleep in order to fully heal and recover from surgery or injuries. For older pets, this isn’t a hard task, but if you have a new puppy it may want to play or jump around which isn’t great for healing. You can promote rest and sleep by creating a cozy bed for them in a room where they won’t be disturbed. Keep the lights dim and consider putting a sound machine nearby to drown out the noise of kids running around or the doorbell ringing. The less stimulation there is, the more your pet will be able to rest.

4. Go Easy On The Food and Focus on Water Intake

After being put under anesthesia, your pet may feel a little nauseous and resist eating. This is okay, and to be expected. Don’t try to push food on your pet if they don’t seem interested in it in the first few days following surgery. Instead, focus on water intake to ensure hydration. Pets can quickly become dehydrated if they aren’t taking in enough fluids which can lead to vomiting and other potential complications.

It may be tempting to just give your pet treats so they have something in their tummy, but the reward is not worth the risk. If you’re truly concerned about your pet’s eating habits after a few days, consult your vet.

5. Follow Your Vet’s Directions With Medications

Chances are good that your vet will prescribe some sort of medication for your pet after the surgery. Whether it’s an antibiotic or pain medication, be sure to read the directions carefully so you are well versed in how much and how often you should be giving the medication to your animal. If it’s a pain medication you don’t want to over-do it; be on the lookout for if your pet is in pain while the drug is active in its system. If your pet was given an antibiotic, it’s important to administer the right amount of medicine for the full duration your vet instructed you, regardless of how well your pet may seem to be doing.

6. Keep an Eye Out for Infections

There’s a good reason your pet got sent home with a cone around its neck—it’s so your animal is not tempted to try to “clean” its wound/incision by licking it. Any time a pet has a wound, particularly one that requires stitches, it’s essential to ensure it remains clean and taken care of to avoid infection. Monitor any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, pus/discharge, or hardness. Additionally, if your pet seems to be generally unwell, that could indicate an infection, so it’s important to call your vet as soon as possible if you suspect there’s a chance of infection.

The bottom line is that your pet will need a little TLC in the days after surgery. As long as you’re attentive to your pet and help it get lots of rest, there’s no reason to expect anything but a full recovery. Your furry friend will be itself again in no time!

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