Surgery Recovery Frequently Asked Questions
At Animal Surgical & Orthopedic Center, we are here for you and your pet and understand you might have questions about what to expect after their surgery. These FAQs may help you better prepare for your pet’s home care and recovery. If you have additional questions that aren’t answered below, please send your Licensed Veterinary Technician any questions, concerns, photos, or videos at the after-hours and weekend nurse e-mail:
After-Hours e-mails are monitored:
- Mon thru Thursday, 6 pm-7 am
- Friday, 6 pm-8 pm
- Saturday & Sunday, 8 am-5 pm
Click on the questions below for additional information.
Some pain medications and changes in eating habits may interrupt normal bowel movements.
You may add canned pumpkin, at 1 TBS per 20lbs of bodyweight (NOTE: Not pumpkin pie mix!), or cooked sweet potato to your pet’s regular diet until they have a bowel movement.
Most pets will resume normal BMs 2-4 days post-surgery. For cats, adding 1/8 TSP of OTC MiraLAX per feeding can help with constipation.
The most common signs of pain to watch for include:
- Excessive panting
- Restlessness (unable to get comfortable in their favorite spot)
- Whining or grunting
- Increased heart rate at rest
- Reluctance to let you touch the surgical area.
If your pet has had surgery on a hindlimb, it is often more comfortable for them to lie with this leg on the downside.
Rimadyl (Carprofen/Novox/Vetprofen/Truprofen), Galliprant, Metacam (Meloxicam), Deramaxx, and Previcox are all NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories) that are often prescribed at discharge.
These are all effective medications for pain control and are usually given once or twice per day with a meal (Galliprant is the exception and can be given with or without a meal). Only one type of NSAID should be given at a time to reduce the chances of side effects. Stop giving this medication and call us if any vomiting, diarrhea/loose stool, or loss of appetite occurs.
Gabapentin is effective for pain control and works well in combination with NSAIDs and other pain meds. Sedation is a common side effect. If you feel that your pet is overly sedated, you should reduce the dose or frequency. Call or e-mail us to discuss ways to maintain effective pain control.
Trazodone is a sedative that can help reduce anxiety and keep your pet calm. It will not help with pain control. Do not give if your pet is already sedate from other medications (like Gabapentin) or currently taking other sedatives (Acepromazine), unless advised by us or your own veterinarian.
Yes, unless your discharge instructions say otherwise
Your veterinary surgeon has written the ideal activity timeline for your pet in your discharge instructions.
However, most pets will require two weeks of strict confinement, followed by confinement with gradually increased controlled leashed walks. If your pet needs to go up or down more than a few stairs, you may use a towel as a sling to assist.
It is crucial that your pet not engage in ANY:
- Jumping (especially on/off furniture)
until your pet has been cleared for off-leash activities. This typically occurs around 12 weeks post-surgery.
The most common postoperative complication is an infection due to a pet licking at the incision. An infection can prolong the healing time after surgery, by up to 6 months or more, and has the potential to ruin the surgical repair.
For the best chance at complete recovery post-surgery, your pet should always wear the e-collar, especially when you are not directly watching them (asleep, out of the room). For incisions that are not covered (with a splint or bandage), you may remove the e-collar after two weeks when the skin is healed, so long as your pet is not licking at the area.
The sooner the better. Disuse of the leg will cause more muscle atrophy, so encouraging gentle toe touching within the first few days is encouraged.
For most elective orthopedic surgeries, toe touching and weight-bearing on the surgical leg should happen by the two-week recheck.