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Carlisle Vets

Surgical Aftercare

Recovering from surgery can involve a degree of discomfort which is minimised with pain relief medicines. These may be dispensed for you to administer by mouth at home after an operation. You can also help by making sure your pet is kept warm and comfortable. In the initial post-operative period pain relief is typically achieved using injections of anti-inflammatory and morphine-type drugs.

Recovering from an anaesthetic

Anaesthetics can take a number of hours to wear off and many patients appear drowsy for a day or so; behaviour will soon return to normal.

After surgery, your pet may feel a little ‘dizzy’ and be quieter than usual, which is normal.

Anaesthetics can results in pets vocalising (i.e. “crying”) for several hours after an operation. This can take the form of whimpering or even howling and is often thought by owners to indicate pain, but this is usually not the case.

Surgical Wounds

A surgical wound should be kept clean and dry for at least 10 to 14 days after the surgery and checked daily for gaping or redness. Swimming or bathing are to be avoided.

Make sure bandages, splints and casts stay dry and that you understand how to monitor them at home. This will be explained at the veterinary surgery by a vet or nurse and we encourage you to ask any and all questions you might have.

Drains are occasionally placed during surgery to encourage fluid to move away from the surgical site. It is normal for them to discharge for a few days.

Your pet may want to chew or lick at a surgical wound; this could cause infection or result in the sutures being pulled or chewed out. We may recommend an Elizabethan collar or cone to prevent this. They are easy to remove and replace as necessary but should only be removed when your pet is fully supervised. Persisting with a collar for a few days even though your pet dislikes wearing it can reduce the risk of serious complications and avoid further surgery. Bitter tasting preparations are also available to discourage pets from licking wounds or bandages.

Feeding after surgery

A small amount of bland food may be offered if your pet is interested in food unless you have been advised otherwise. On occasions a pet may vomit after an anaesthetic. Always make sure water is available as your pet may be thirsty from the dry anaesthetic air and the effects of the anaesthetic agents themselves.

What to look for after surgery

If you have any doubt about the health of your pet following an operation, please contact the surgery to discuss your concerns immediately. Signs to watch out for are:

  • Lethargy and/or vomiting, particularly for the first 24 hours
  • Excessive redness or swelling around the surgical site
  • Bleeding or discharge from the wound.
  • Continuous licking
  • An odour from a bandage