Canine Convalescent Care
By Louise Louis
At least once in your dog’s life, it’s likely he will have some type of surgery requiring a general anesthetic; e.g., being neutered.
Hopefully, you’ll have time to prepare your dog and your home for his recovery.
Here are a few tips to help you both cope with his aftercare. You may not need this yet but hang on to this article. You never know.
1. Getting started
When you take your dog to the vet for surgery, make sure you find out when and how you can get progress reports. If you’re like the rest of us, you’ll be even more anxious than your dog to make sure all goes well.
Usually vets let dogs go home once they are fully conscious and able to walk.
Make sure you ask the vet about your dog’s after care:
* Diet – cooked, skinned white meat chicken and boiled white rice is usually OK
* Drinking – can he have water right away? Can he suck on ice chips?
* Bandages – are there are dressings or bandages you’ll need to change.
Understand what you’re expected to do.
* Contacts – who do you call if your dog develops any problems especially if it’s at 3 a.m.
* Medication – what, if any, is required and how may it be given such as in food or with water
* Exercise – how soon and what type should he get
* Follow ups – make needed appointments for check-ups or removal of stitches
2. Driving home
Make sure you secure your dog on the ride home from the vet. He may be a bit woozy and wobbly as well as bit depressed. He may have some shaved body areas and a raw cough if he had an endotracheal tube in his throat.
Be sure to keep any drafts off him and have a little blanket to put on him in case he seems cold. If there are two humans in the car, you may want to hold him securely on the back seat while you sit comfortably next to him.
3. Being home
The first thing he’s apt to do is go the potty. You make need to support him if he’s still wobbly.
Don’t be surprised if he immediately goes to sleep, especially as the anesthetic wears off, usually 24 to 36 hours.
Make sure your dog has a quiet, warm, draft-free place to sleep. You’ll want to look on him from time to time but don’t let his peace be disturbed by too many visitors or too much commotion.
4. Taking his medicine
If he needs medication including pain medication, follow the directions you got from the vet. If the medication didn’t come with a chart, use a calendar to mark off each time you give him his medicine so you don’t forget or get confused on how long ago you gave him something.
Many dogs hate pills but most will swallow them whole if wrapped in peanut butter.
5. Changing dressings
Check the operation site daily to ensure it is healing properly. Don’t bathe it unless your vet has said it’s OK to do so, but you may need to take action to prevent your dog from licking it.
If you’re applying any topical medicine to your dog, you’ll find he loves to lick it off.
Use an Elizabethan collar to stop him from reaching the wound site. Your vet may supply one or you can buy one from pet stores or via the Internet.
6. Getting back on his feet
Start your dog walking as soon as the vet says it’s OK. You usually don’t exercise him until all stitches have been removed. If you have an active dog, you may have to force him to stay off his paws and keep him from running around the house.
Too much and too strenuous exercise can cause poor wound healing and inflammation so be sure to follow your vet’s direction to the letter.
If your dog is going to require physical therapy, I hope you have a pet insurance policy that covers it. This can get expensive quickly.
7. Getting fed
Your small dog may need to be fed more frequently than usual because he won’t be able to eat much and there is a danger of low blood sugar if he isn’t fed.
Be sure to give him fresh food, nothing stale or left-over. You don’t want to risk introducing bacteria when he’s still recovering. You may need to support him if he has trouble eating. Make sure to provide fresh water all day long.
8. Watching for these problems
* Not being fully conscious after 36 hours
* Cold and clammy paws and pale gums
* Allergic reactions around the mouth, face or throat as a result of anesthetic or medication
* Feces containing blood
* Bleeding, swelling, redness , oozing or bad odors at the operation site
* Pulling out stitches
Happily with today’s veterinary medicine, complications are unlikely but alertness on your part can stop any small problem from growing into a major problem. Best wishes to your all.
Louise Louis is a certified canine specialist and creator of the popular website on small dogs, http://www.ToyBreeds.com
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