Tips for looking after your pet after surgery
Written by Liz Means
So you have just picked up Fluffy from your veterinary clinic after her spey (or neuter, cruciate, patellar, abdominal surgery….). Everything went well and she has recovered from the anaesthesia, but now you have to keep her under control until the surgical site heals.
Here are some tips for managing the first night at home:
1. Always follow the discharge instructions that your vet has given you.
It can be hard to restrict exercise, but this is essential for the surgery to heal correctly. Fluffy company while she is confined in a cage and providing chew toys and treats can help her stay calm and quiet. For extremely active and boisterous animals there are mild sedatives that can be sent home for the first couple days after surgery – talk to your vet at discharge if you think your pet may need this.
2. Fluffy will not be herself the first night after the surgery.
Many of the anaesthetic drugs and pain relief that are given during surgery will not be fully out of Fluffy’s system for the first night. She may be more anxious than usual, whine and vocalise, or be very clingy. She may also just be very tired and want to sleep. Sometimes these medications will also mean she is not hungry and does not want to eat dinner. Generally, after a good nights sleep, Fluffy will feel much better in the morning.
3. Keeping the Elizabethan Collar on is always a good idea.
All pets like to lick and chew, and if Fluffy is chewing on her stitches there is a good chance she will pull them out necessitating another surgery. Licking is also not good for the wound as it introduces bacteria and makes a surgical site infection more likely.
It can be difficult to keep the E-collar on. Threading Fluffy’s collar through the E-collar can make it more secure. Also, keeping her in a small area/cage can make it harder to get the collar off.
Any time that Fluffy is not supervised, the E-collar should be left on. Don’t forget to keep cats inside while they have an E-collar as there is a risk of it getting caught in trees/fences outside.
4. Only use the medications dispensed by your veterinarian.
Most human pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications are toxic to dogs and cats. Even small amounts can cause very significant side effects including gastric ulcers, kidney damage and liver damage.
If you think Fluffy is still painful after the pain relief that has been dispensed, call for veterinary advice – never increase the dose or use a medication that has not been prescribed without checking with a vet first.
If you have any concerns regarding your pet who has just had surgery, the Animal Emergency Centre is open all night for advice. We can offer overnight care and monitoring, if you are having trouble getting them to settle at home, as well as extra pain relief if needed.