How do I take care of my dog after the surgery?
Remember, males remain fertile until four weeks after surgery; hence, it is best to wait until after a month of their surgery to let them be with other dogs in potential heat. Likewise, female dogs can breed up to 10 days after being spayed; however, any encounter with mating after being spayed is life-threatening to the dog.
Food: A lack of appetite is common during the first two/three days after surgery; for this, it is best to feed your dog food that is extremely appetising, like wet food. You can choose wet food of the same brand as your dog's dry food, or choose a whole new brand with a different flavour. If you choose to do this, however, remember to always feed your dog a little bit so as to check whether it suits his/her digestive system.
Exercise: Limit exercise for the first fourteen days post-surgery, i.e. until the stitches have been removed, simply because the chances of the stitches coming apart is far higher when the dog is indulging in a strenuous exercise like running, jogging, jumping, swimming, drafting, herding, and playing fetch. But, that doesn't mean he/she won't exercise! Take your dog on short and slow walks twice a day. This way, they won't feel bored and destructive at home, nor will they be at risk of removing their stitches.
Mental Stimulation: Like with humans, post-operative care is as big a test on a dogs' mental health as it is on their physical health. In times like this, it is best to divert attention from self-destructive behaviour such as pulling out stitches or tearing out the e-collar onto more focused, relaxing behaviour like that through playing with interactive toys. When energy is focused on something else, the dog is less likely to think about pain, itchiness, or discomfort.
Health: Remember to go for regular health checkups post-surgery. Even if your dog seems perfectly fine, it is good to get the wound, and its swelling checked once in the fourteen-day time period. This checkup can also help to know whether the wound is infected or healing well.
Do's and Dont's of Post-Op Care
Confined Area: On the day of post-surgery, it is best to keep your dog in a quiet, well-ventilated room to wear off all the anaesthesia.
Keep the incision dry: It is of utmost importance to ensure that you keep the incision dry. This means no licking, no sitting on wet floors, and definitely no wipes. Wetness promotes infection, and you nor your dog would like an infected wound.
Check for infection every day: Puss, bleeding, smelly discharge, white or coloured discharge etc., are signs of infection. It is best to check for signs of infection every day and report any abnormality to your veterinarian immediately.
Restrict Activity: Restrict strenuous activities like running, jogging, swimming, playing fetch and so on for the first fourteen days. In addition to this, it is best to avoid climbing up or down stairs. All of which can put a dog at risk of opening up his/her stitches.
Feed appetising food: Dogs give up food when under stress, and surgery is most definitely some stress! Hence, it is best to feed them food that is appetising and full of aroma.
Encourage drinking water: Like with what stress does to food intake, it does to water intake as well. Hence, you can encourage your dog to drink more water by feeding him/her wet food or strained meat or poultry broth/stew.
Choose an e-collar or any suitable alternative: For dogs that just can't stop licking, an e-collar or suitable alternative like a post-op tube can help to keep them from all that licking. Remember, however, that most of these collars do cause stress and can be done away with if your dog is constantly watched.
Always check for signs of good health: Although weakness and drowsiness are very common on the first day, they shouldn't be on the subsequent days. Drowsiness, lethargy, discomfort, pain, droopy eyes, redness, bleeding etc., are not signs of good health and need medical attention.
Don't wash/wipe the stitches: Washing or wiping the stitches with anything apart from an alcohol-based solution will only cause infection. If you find the wound smelly, it is best to seek medical help.
Don't let the stitches get dirty: Getting the stitches dirty can also cause infection because the wound is raw until after fourteen days of surgery. This is especially true for female dogs whose stitches are always in contact with the ground.
Don't bathe your dog: Apart from getting your dog's stitches wet, bathing can increase the risk of your dog falling ill.
Don't ignore symptoms: Any sign of pain, uneasiness, shortness of breath, discomfort, lethargy etc., must not be ignored, even if they are almost non-existent.
Don't administer any medication without consulting a vet: It's almost too easy for us to give our dog medication for pain and discomfort, but this will always do more harm than good. Remember to consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any medication for symptoms that may arise post their surgery.
There goes an old saying - don't let your dog be a deadbeat dad. Apart from several health benefits, spaying/neutering has positive influences on behaviour too! So, don't back down because of the post-operational care; you now know how to take care of your pooch when he/she is out of surgery and into your arms!
As much as we hate to put them through all the pain and collars of shame, neutering/spaying is one of the most beneficial operations your dog can go through; besides, it's a one-time thing! One of the toughest times in a dog parent's life is the time of post-surgical care - we hate to see our dogs have to go through so much discomfort without knowing what to do about it. But that's no longer true! Here's our guide on how to take care of a dog after neutering/spaying