Q: How do I properly take care of my pet after he’s had an operation?
A: Post-operative care is one of the most important aspects of your pet’s recovery. Depending on the nature and type of surgery, your veterinarian will give you instructions on how to take care of your pet.
Ask someone to accompany you when you fetch your pet from the vet, so that they can hold him in the car and make sure he gets in and out safely. If you have a cat, take a cat basket to ensure that she does not escape. Keep your pet in a quiet, peaceful environment at home, away from your other animals. Allow only a small area for movement to ensure that he does not hurt himself by trying to move around too much, too fast. Take him outside on a leash, if possible, and make sure that he urinates normally and his stool is normal.
Remember that any kind of surgery is very stressful for an animal. It increases his chances of getting an infection, due to his temporarily suppressed immune system. Therefore, he will need a diet high in vitamins and minerals to increase his body’s ability to withstand infection and to heal effectively.
Let your pet finish the course of antibiotics given by the vet. Early detection of a post-operative complication is of utmost importance, and the only way to do this is to take your dog or cat for a follow-up visit when requested by your veterinarian.
Should your pet have a bandage, make sure that you keep it dry. If it gets wet or starts slipping off prior to your follow-up visit, rather return to your vet immediately, as wet bandages or bandages that do not fit properly can do a lot of harm in a short period of time.
If your vet sends your pet home with an Elizabethan collar, do not remove it or cut off the edges. The collar is there to prevent your pet licking his surgical wound or chewing off his bandages. If you cut it shorter, your pet can do a lot of harm to himself during the night when you are not watching. If he does not tolerate the collar well, you can use a natural, herbal calming remedy to lower stress and calm him down while he wears the collar.
Observe the surgical wound daily if it is not covered by a bandage, and as soon as you notice swelling or a discharge, take your pet to the vet for an evaluation of the wound.
Dr Letitia Swartz, veterinarian