After your dog has had surgery, you can play a pivotal role in helping them to fully recover. Today, our Tracy vets share some tips for how to care for your dog after surgery - and specifically how to handle it if they are coughing, shaking, or not eating.
Always Follow Surgery Post-Op Instructions
In the days before and after surgery, both you and your dog will likely be feeling some stress. However, understanding how to care for your canine companion after they settle in at home is critical to helping them get back to their routine as soon as possible.
Following your dog’s procedure, you’ll receive clear, detailed instructions from your vet about how to care for your pup at home. Heeding these and complying with them will be vital to a safe, successful recovery. If you do not understand any of the steps recommended, make sure to clarify.
Even if you arrive home and realize you’ve forgotten how to complete a specific step in your vet’s instructions, you can call our office to verify. Depending on the procedure required, the surgery will either be performed in-house or you’ll be referred to a professional veterinary surgeon near Tracy.
Whether our veterinarians perform the procedure or need to refer you to a specialist, our team at Paws and Claws Veterinary Hospital in Tracy is committed to providing your dog with attentive, high-quality care — and offering advice on at-home measures that can have a significant positive impact, such as post-op care.
Effects of General Anesthetic
Your vet likely used a general anesthetic to keep your dog unconscious and prevent them from experiencing pain during surgery. The effects of anesthesia may take some time to wear off after the procedure is performed.
Dog Not Eating After Surgery
Your dog may lack or lose their appetite temporarily after surgery. In addition to nausea, this is a common after-effect of the anesthetic. You might consider offering a half-size portion of a light meal such as chicken or rice. Your dog may find this easier to digest than their regular store-bought food.
After their operation, your dog’s appetite should return within about 24 hours. You can then begin to gradually reintroduce their normal food. If it’s been more than 48 hours and your dog still won’t eat after surgery, contact your veterinarian (or vet surgeon if you’ve been referred to one). Loss of appetite can be a sign of infection.
Managing Your Dog’s Pain After Surgery
Following surgery, your veterinarian will take time to explain any pain relievers or medications they need to prescribe for your pet so you can prevent infection and manage post-surgery discomfort or pain.
The vet will brief you on the dose needed, how often the medication should be administered and how you can do so safely. To prevent unnecessary pain as your dog recovers and to eliminate the risk of side effects, be sure to follow these instructions carefully. If you are unsure of any instructions, ask follow-up questions.
Some dogs may be high-strung or experience anxiety post-surgery. If this is the case for your pooch, your vet may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication or sedatives to help your pet remain calm while they heal.
A word of caution: Never give your dog human medications without consulting your veterinarian first. While medications for people help us feel better, they are dangerous for our dogs and other pets.
Set Up a Quiet, Comfortable Space
Your dog will need a quiet space to rest and recover. This spot should have a soft bed with room for them to spread out, away from the hustle of the rest of the household. This soft bed is important as it can help prevent undue pressure on bandaged or sensitive parts of your pet’s body.
Dog Shaking or Coughing After Surgery
Have you noticed your dog shaking or coughing after surgery? If your dog had a tube placed in his or her trachea (windpipe) while receiving anesthesia, this may have caused mild irritation and a slight cough. A mild post-surgical cough will usually diminish over the next few days. Contact our hospital if coughing persists or worsens.
Typically, if a dog is shaking after surgery, this won’t be due to a cold or pain but after-effects from anesthesia or pain control medication. Have your pet frequently eat small amounts of food, then hold them in your lap or sit next to them while speaking to them and giving lots of reassuring pets. The extra love and attention will help.
Restrict your Pet’s Movement
For a specified period after surgery, your vet may recommend limiting your dog’s movement and physical activity. Sudden stretching or jumping can disrupt recovery and cause incisions to reopen.
Depending on the surgery, you may not need to take significant measures such as a complete cage or crate rest to confine your dog. Most dogs will be able to stay inside for a few days, making essential trips for bathroom breaks outdoors.
That said, you may find it difficult to prevent your dog from climbing stairs or jumping on furniture they like to nap on. To prevent him from doing this, if you are unable to provide direct supervision you may need to keep your pup in a safe, comfortable room of the house.
If your dog happens to be recovering from orthopedic surgery, he or she may need to be confined to a laundry-sized or smaller pen with gradually increasing amounts of exercise as recovery progresses.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.