It can be very upsetting for owners when your pet has to undergo surgery. There can be a number of reasons that it may be necessary for them to undergo an operation, but any good veterinarian would not insist on surgery without adequate cause.
Some of the reasons that your pet may require an operation include; but are not limited to:
Biopsy and/or removal of lumps/unexplained masses
Removal of foreign object
Removal of cancerous cells
Repair of an injury or wound
Removal of kidney stones
For the majority of surgeries it will be necessary for your pet to be anesthetized so that they lay still and do not experience any pain. See our page on anesthesia (INSERT LINK HERE) for more information on what to expect when you pet undergoes a general anesthetic.
After your pet has had their operation they will need specific care at home. Here is our guide to looking after a pet that has recently undergone surgery.
When your pet first comes round from the operation they will still be within the care of your veterinary team. They will be able to advise you of an approximate recovery time as different animals and breeds recover at different rates. If you are able to see your pet during this time you will probably find that they wake up disorientated. This is normal and your veterinary team will keep them safe and comfortable for this time. If you pet has had a pipe passed down into the trachea during the operation he may cough for a short while after waking.
Once your veterinary team declares that it is safe for you to take your pet home, there are a number of things you can do to make their recovery as comfortable as possible.
Place your pets’ bed in a quiet part of the house away from other household animals or children that may provoke him, but not completely away from you as he may need your attention or assistance. Ensure the bed is warm and comfortable and it is not too far for them to go to empty their bladder or bowels. Ideally have a litter tray nearby for a cat, and easy access to outside for a dog.
Surgical wounds should require no attention from you unless your veterinarian has advised you otherwise. However you should check it daily and consult with your veterinarian if it is seen to be swelling, bleeding or oozing. Your vet may suggest popping down to the surgery for it to be checked out properly, as with any operation there is a risk of infection that may need to be treated with a course of antibiotics. Your pet may have an extreme desire to lick at the wound and this should be discouraged as much as possible. Your veterinarian may have fitted your pet with a special collar to help prevent this.
If the removal of stitches is necessary, this will usually happen around 7-10 days after the operation and is done in a short, relatively painless procedure. Your veterinarian will advise if this is the case and book an appointment for your pet to have the stitches removed. Stitches must ALWAYS be removed by a qualified veterinarian, do not be tempted to try and do it yourself as this can cause damage and infection.
You may find that your pet has a decreased appetite during the first few days of their recovery. Some surgeries require a special diet being offered, and you should try and offer this first. However if it is refused you can try a little of their normal food. If their appetite doesn’t return to normal within a week of the surgery speak to your veterinarian for advice.
You should refrain from encouraging your pet to exercise for at least the first 48 hours following their operation. After this time exercise may still need to be limited depending on the type of surgery that your pet has had. Speak to your veterinarian who will be happy to advise you of a post-surgery exercise program for your pet.
Your pet may require medication to be administered for a period of time following his operation. When you are discharged from the veterinary surgery a nurse should go through the dosage information with you. It is vital that your pet completes the course of medication prescribed.
Whatever surgery your pet has had, if you have any questions or concerns, always contact your veterinarian who should be happy to assist and advise you.