Looking After Your Dog Post-Surgery

puppy-going-for-surgery

Every dog is different, so there’s not really any standard procedure when it comes to helping your friend through the post-operation process. But here’s some general advice that you should definitely take on board for when your dog is ready to come back home after a gruelling procedure!

Follow the instructions!

First and most important of all: your vet will give you instructions (usually written) that will give you specific advice on dealing with the recovery of your dog. You need to ensure that these instructions are followed to the letter, no matter what other options you try!

Look into further healing options

There tend to be a lot of options when it comes to speeding up the process of healing. This may come in the form of creams and other medications that help the wound heal quicker, or things that help your dog get to sleep and thus limit dangerous activity, or even canine laser therapy. Whatever option you consider, you should definitely consult with the vet first; you don’t want to do anything that may end up disrupting the process further!

golden-retriever-after-surgery

Limit activity

Too much activity can result in pain, wounds reopening, or other problems that will prolong the recovery process. So you need to consider the activity your dog usually takes part in. Jumping up on sofas and chairs needs to be limited. Keeping them away from other dogs as well as small children may be ideal for the first couple of weeks, as they tend to get very excited by both. Walks should be a lot slower as well as shorter; you may want to consider going on two brief walks per day instead of a long one. Consider having your dog spend some time in a small and confined space while they relax.

Check the sutures frequently

Dogs aren’t exactly known to report to your immediately if something goes wrong with their sutures! Proper surgical wound care is essential if you want to make sure the recovery is as fast and comfortable as possible. Antibiotic or antiseptic creams may come in very handy, but simple salt water washes may do the trick. (The vet will probably have given you some advice here!) You need to ensure that your dog doesn’t lick or scratch at their wound; if this means getting one of those funny cones on their head, then so be it!

dog-bed-after-surgery

Maximize comfort

When it comes to post-op comfort, there are at least three things you need to consider. One is temperature. In the first few days following surgery, dogs will have a hard time sensing temperatures. This doesn’t mean that they’re not getting cold or hot, however. You need to keep an eye on your pup and get a feel for their temperature so you know when to adjust the temperature accordingly. The second is the bedding your dog uses. A lot of people use quite cheap bedding for their dog because they know that dogs can basically sleep on anything, but now might be the time to invest in something a little more luxurious. Last but not least is your presence! Don’t stray too far from your friend; this will help them stay calm and happy.

Cats are not small dogs – Vet Festival 2017

Noel Fitzpatrick at Vet Festival 2017

Sometimes I take for granted how much we now know, and this morning when someone said that when they were learning they were told that if you get cat bones in the same room then fractures will heal I was surprised. This was even more shocking as these words came from Prof Noel Fitzpatrick.

The dog has always been the top priority when it comes to vets, then cats became more popular as more has become known, and now the same thing is happening with the development of rabbit medicine. However this is about cats so back on track…

So Noel gave a tour through the cat skeleton looking at different problems and the solutions including some new ideas of own creation. Also here there was indication that a discussion is needed about the problems involved about getting new ideas out to share them with the world.

Either fortunately or unfortunately depending on the way you look at it there are well established rules within medicine and surgery. A lot of them help keep patients safe, and help prevent surgeons getting into trouble however sometimes they may be relied on too much without an understanding of why they exist – on in fact questioning their very existence. What resonated with me here was Noel saying that rules are there for a reason; however you need to understand when to break them.

This is in reference to a specific rule when it comes to using external fixation (rods and pins outside the body) to put fractures back together again. There is a rule that you can only use safe corridors which avoid muscles and other tissues when placing your pins. This rule means that ideally there are limited places where you can use external fixation as these safe corridors not exist in other places. Noel has tried to publish without success a series of 250+ successful cases where he has used external fixation on the cats pelvis without any complications which breaks the safe corridor rule but shows when done correctly it is successful.

A more light hearted moment was when Noel was told that he could not use the acronym SPIDER for a technique he developed for fixing toe fractures if he wanted to be published. Sometimes the best part of inventing something new is being able to give it a name and so the challenge has now been set for the first person to publish something with a SPIDER acronym…

The real osmosis education

Audience learning at vet festival

Many times I wish that I could just put a book under my pillow and it will be absorbed overnight as I sleep… I’ve tried (both under and on top) and unfortunately have never got this to work.

What I have found though is that there are some people that you can simply just be in the same room as and you will start absorbing knowledge and learning. These people just have something special – I have no clue whether it is the passion for teaching or something else however they just turn up and you start learning.

I’ve become better at recognising these people. They are the ones that I will look for when I go places to see practice or to conference. This weekend at the Vet Festival has been the same, sometimes I’ve not even bothered looking at the topic once I have seen the speakers name. It doesn’t matter what they are teaching, I will learn something useful because of the way they teach it.

This is something I think Noel has excelled at with the VET Festival as its not just about sitting in tents for a weekend, it is about how on Monday when you are back treating patients the care you can give has improved. Whether it is simply by using drugs in a different way, or just being confident enough to treat based on the clinical presentation instead of the diagnostic tests. It is understanding how to tell the difference between a problem in the eye and a problem in the brain. Or knowing where else to look when you get a tumour in a certain place.

The speakers at VET Festival all had this quality. When Clare overran and told people to leave if they had to not a single person moved. It is this that makes VET Festival truly special…