Regardless of the reason, leaving your pet for surgery can create a lot of anxiety and confusion for both you and your pet. Additionally, just like humans, a pet’s recovery after an operation can be an uncomfortable experience. By knowing how to care for your pet before and after surgery, the procedure and home recovery can go a lot more smoothly.
Preparing for Your Pet’s Surgery
Make Your Home Ready
The day before the scheduled surgery is the perfect time to prepare your home for your pet’s special aftercare needs. Consider cleaning or laundering your pet’s bedding to prevent any type of bacterial infection after the procedure. If your pet will require limited activity or you have other pets in your household, section off an area of the house or set up a crate.
Clean and Ready
Surgery is a sterile procedure, and what you do in the 24 hours leading up to the procedure can make a difference in your pet’s safety. The last thing you want is your furry friend spending unnecessary time under anesthesia to get him clean. Consider bathing your pet, brushing hair, trimming nails, and cleaning ears before their operation. Good grooming will also help prevent excessive itching and scratching post-procedure, which can dislodge stitches.
Withhold Food and Water
It is important to have your cat or dog in a fasted state 8 to 12 hours before the operation. This means that you should never offer food on the morning of surgery unless instructed by your vet.
Why is that? Anesthesia drugs will make your pet nauseous and decrease their swallowing reflexes. If the stomach contracts and your pet vomits, they can’t swallow it back to their stomach. This increases the risk of inhaling the vomit down into the lungs. Inhaled vomit can cause aspiration pneumonia or block the airway, causing suffocation.
Be Up-to-Date With Vaccinations
For the protection of your pet, make sure they are up to date on all vaccinations at least a week before surgery. Check with your vet to see which vaccinations are required. In many cases, vaccinations for Distemper, Rabies, Bordetella, and Parvo are required. These should be administered 5 days before the appointment date to allow the vaccine to stimulate the immune system and protect your pet.
Ask About Medication
Before the surgery procedure, inform your vet of any medication or supplements your pet is taking. Some may be needed but others can be skipped. For instance, some nutraceuticals and herbs can thin the blood and cause excessive bleeding, while others may interfere with anesthesia. It’s also important to ask in advance if you need to bring your pet’s food or medication on the day of surgery.
The Morning of the Surgery: Timing Matters
Regardless of the surgery time, you will likely need to drop your pet off early in the morning. Your vet may need to run a physical exam, take x-rays, run blood work, administer IV fluids, place an IV catheter, perform an EKG, start specific medication, and calculate anesthesia doses. There may be more things that your vet will need to check before the surgery is performed. Being late will put stress on the vet, the staff, and your pet.
Try to avoid emotional goodbyes and be sure to leave your contact number so that your vet can call you when your pet wakes up from surgery. They will often give an estimated time of when to pick up your furry companion.
Home Care for Your Pet After Surgery
Discharge instructions after surgery usually include giving medications, monitoring the incision, confinement, switching to a special diet, and recheck appointments.
Take Care of Your Pet’s Wound and Stitches
During the postoperative period, wounds need to be kept clean and dry. You need to check bandages, sutures, and casts daily. Your vet will run through how to do this with you. Avoid bathing your pet or allowing them to swim. Additionally, stay on the lookout for excessive swelling, gaping, discharge, and self-inflicted damage. If a wound or drain looks dirty, clean it using salty water, unless instructed otherwise by your vet.
Your pet may chew or lick the stitches, causing harm and sometimes infection. We recommend an Elizabethan collar to prevent licking, chewing, and scratching. Most pets will learn to sleep, eat, and be their normal selves with the collar after a day or so. Remember to call your vet if something is not right.
Reduce Your Pet’s Activity Levels
You will be required to reduce your pet’s level of activity after the surgery to allow the surgical incision to heal. This can be a challenge for puppies, kittens, and active breeds, so you may want to keep your pet in a crate, playpen, small room, or in a gated area. Some temporary rearranging may be necessary so that there are no steps, furniture, or slippery floors. Your vet will advise you on how long you will need to confine your pet, depending on the nature of the operation and your pet’s post-op needs.
Ask About Your Pet’s Diet
Diet after surgery can vary depending on what was done. Your pet may feel a bit “off-color” and may even vomit after eating. Check with your vet to see if you should give your furry friend a special diet. If so, ensure you have the food in advance or make a batch of homemade food and store it in the refrigerator. You want to spend time caring for your pet, not trying to find or make food when they’re back home.
Contact Us Today
By using these tips to care for your pet before and after surgery, the procedure and home recovery can go a lot more smoothly. At Naples Coastal Animal Hospital, we have a team of experienced and dedicated surgical professionals that would love to help your pet with their surgical needs. Our staff will give your furry companion exceptional care before, during, and after surgery. Call us today at (239) 500-0105 to book an appointment with us.