A dog lies in an e-collar.

Surgery can be a scary time for both the pet and pet owner, but is a necessary action to take when your pet has a medical issue that calls for it. Once your pet is out of surgery, you may wonder how to help speed up recovery and take great care for them at home. The process of healing is a critical time in your pet’s recovery. This is why it is important to get the most information you can about what to do when your pet is recovering at home.

The team at Dickinson Animal Hospital & Pet Wellness Center is here to give you some tips and suggestions on helping your best friend heal and be back on their paws in no time.

First, Follow The Instructions

After any surgery, your veterinarian will give you instructions for how to care for your pet post-op. This will likely include changing bandages, restricting movement, a variation in their diet and exercise, and the medications they will need to take and how to administer them.

Remember to follow these to a T to avoid any set-backs in your pet’s recovery. When in doubt, always ask. Your team at Dickinson Animal Hospital & Pet Wellness Center is more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you have in taking the best care of your pet.

7 Tips For Helping Your Pet Recover After Surgery

Along with your instructions, make use of some of the following suggestions for successful postoperative recovery:

  1. Use an E-collar. To avoid your pet chewing at sutures or the surgical site, make sure they wear a “Cone of Shame,” or Elizabethian collar. There are several varieties that meet a range of comfort needs, but the most important thing to remember is they have the proper fit.
  2. Monitor your pet’s wound. Keep an eye on the incision site and look for any signs of infection, such as discharge, swelling, and redness. You should change the bandage as instructed by your veterinarian. Avoid getting the area wet and do not add ointments and cleansers unless it is a part of your surgeon’s instructions.
  3. Maintain your pet’s medication schedule. Adhere to the right times, dosage, and other instructions set out by the surgeon. Do not discontinue the medication without prior go-ahead from your veterinarian. The dosage and schedule are designed to boost your pet’s chances of a faster, more successful recovery and healing period.
  4. Minimize activity and movement. After most surgeries, your pet will need to rest. Since pets naturally want to get up and roam, it is best to have a pen or crate for them to recover in, or a small, enclosed space where they can stay until they are healed enough to move regularly. 
  5. Offer gradual exercise. After a few days, your pet will need to move a bit, but at a very slow pace and on a leash. For the first few days or weeks, depending on the type of surgery, exercise will be limited to walking to the yard or litter box. Once you get the green light, you can slowly increase your pet’s movement to a short, slow walk in the yard. Over time, gradually increase the pace and duration, but avoid allowing your pet to jump, run, or roughhouse for a few weeks.
  6. Keep them as happy as possible. Being cooped up in a pen is no fun for anyone. Even if your pet cannot participate in normal exercise, you can provide them with enrichment. This includes treat-dispensing puzzles, toys, dental chews and chews like Nylabone and Kong toys, and other interesting activities. Place them in front of a window or patio door so they can watch birds and other wildlife in the yard.
  7. Manage their pain. Pain medications are often sent home with your pet after surgery. Minimally invasive surgeries may not require these drugs, but your veterinarian can advise on the duration and dosage of these medications. Recognize the signs of pain, such as whining/howling, favoring one side, difficulty getting comfortable, wincing when touched, and behavioral changes. If you notice any of these signs, please contact us so we can assess and treat any pain.

The expert team at Dickinson Animal Hospital & Pet Wellness Center can perform many surgeries and procedures, as well as excellent aftercare. We also want to empower our pet families to better understand the steps to giving your furry friends the best postoperative care possible.

If you would like more information about how to help your pet recover after surgery, or to schedule an appointment, please call us