Post-Operative Instructions: Orthopedic Surgery
Following a successful surgery, owner compliance is the most important factor in recovery. Please be careful and patient with your pet during this time. Following these instructions closely will ensure a speedy recovery.
IMPORTANT: If your pet has any combination of the following: DIARRHEA, VOMITING, LETHARGY and/or LACK OF
APPETITE, then your pet will need to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. During normal business hours this can be
us at VSS, otherwise seek your regular veterinarian or an emergency clinic.
Our medical team is available to answer questions and address concerns:
Monday – Thursday: 7am – 5pm
Friday: schedule varies
1. Pain Management: Pain management is a necessity following this procedure. Earlier today your pet received several injections to manage pain. Continued pain control is a MUST during your pet’s recovery. The appropriate medications have been sent home after surgery. Be sure to read the labels and give these medications as directed until ALL doses are finished. This will maintain comfort and aid in a speedy recovery. If you feel at any time the pain is not adequately controlled contact the clinic. Some side effects of these medications may include: nausea/upset stomach, constipation or diarrhea. It is best to give these medications with food.
2. Antibiotics: Your pet will be sent home with a course of antibiotics to prevent post-operative infection. Follow the instructions on the label and finish all doses of medications. Give antibiotics with food. (Some patients will be given a long-acting, injectable antibiotic administered at the clinic, and therefore no antibiotic will be sent home).
3. Stomach upset: Monitor for any signs of vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite or any blood in the stool. These symptoms can be a sign of a sensitivity to medications. If your pet experiences any of these symptoms, then follow the instructions on the Recovery guide for the first 2 weeks following surgery. This guide was provided at discharge.
4. Constipation: Some patients may experience a bout of constipation. It is possible for a pet to not have a bowel movement for up to 7 days after surgery. You may add 1-2 tablespoons of canned pumpkin to their food to aid with the consistency and frequency of bowel movements. DO NOT use canned pumpkin pie filling- ONLY canned pumpkin. HEB typically carries Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin in cans on the baking aisle.
5. Confinement and Activity Restriction: STRICT CRATE CONFINEMENT IS CRITICAL during this recovery. Short, leashed potty breaks to the front or back yard are the only “activity” your dog should be participating in. It is best to use a 2 ft.-4ft. leash. DO NOT use a retractable or long line leash. Be very mindful of slick surfaces* such as wood or tile floors as they can cause your pet to fall/slip resulting in injury. Your recovering pet will need to be taken out alone for potty breaks–keep housemates separated during recovery. DO NOT allow your pet to use stairs, be off leash, run, jump, play, roughhouse, or be loose in the house. These activities compromise the surgical site and can result in complications including delayed healing, extended recovery time, additional costs and fracturing of the surgical site. The veterinary staff will let you know when your pet is cleared for house confinement.
*If you need help to support your pet while on slippery floors, loop a large towel under the hips to use as a sling. Note: Use a sling only when absolutely necessary. It is beneficial for your pet to use their surgery leg so long as it is in a slow and controlled manner.
6. Feeding: Your pet may have an upset stomach the night of surgery as a side effect of the sedation. Offer ¼ of the amount they are normally fed. If they do not want to eat, then do not force it. If they eat and vomit, pull the food until the next morning. If they eat and are able to hold down the food for an hour, then you may offer more in small increments throughout the evening. Unless advised by the veterinary staff to feed a specific diet, use their normal food. This is not a time to change their diet.
7. E-collar: Licking at the incision site is NEVER OKAY! It is imperative to keep your pet’s e-collar on at ALL times, even when they are in the kennel. Licking, chewing, scratching or rubbing the incision can result in opening of the incision site. DO NOT allow housemates to lick or paw at the surgical site either. DO NOT cut the E-collar. The size sent home is appropriate for your pet. The edge of the e-collar should extend 1.5 to 2 inches past your pet’s nose in order to prevent licking or digging at the incision site. If you cut the e-collar shorter you put your pet at risk for infection, opening of the incision site and additional recovery costs as well as prolonged recovery time. The veterinary staff will let you know when it is okay to take the e-collar off.
8. Incision Site Care: You should not need to clean the incision site; it heals best if left alone. Some bleeding and seeping in the first few days is to be expected. Gentle pressure may be applied to the incision site with a clean towel or gauze. If you must clean the incision site use a small amount of warm water. Dab, do not wipe. DO NOT apply any alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, topical ointments, sprays, salves, or bandages as these traps bacteria at the surgical site and can result in infection.
9. Canine Rehabilitation (not applicable for fractures, amputations or cats): Formal canine rehabilitation is recommended to aid in your pet’s recovery from surgery. Our rehab program will provide structured exercises and work in the underwater treadmill to promote strength, balance and muscle conditioning. If you have not already scheduled your first physical therapy visit, contact our staff to help you set up that appointment.
It’s also recommended to start some simple PROM (passive range of motion) exercises at home the day after surgery. The email with the post-op instructions includes a link to a video that shows how to perform these exercises. We recommend doing 10-20 repetitions, 3-4 times a day. If any of these actions causes your pet stress or to struggle, don’t push it. Please refer to the video for more detailed information.
10. Bruising/Swelling: Bruising around the incision site and down the leg is normal and tends to increase for up to 2 days after surgery then slowly resolve. Swelling is not unusual and will commonly occur at the joint below the surgery site, developing 2-3 days post-op. This may feel gelatinous (like Jell-O) and is called edema; it too will resolve over time. Cold and warm compresses applied directly on the incision can help decrease these factors.
11. Medical progress appointments: Your pet’s first re-check will be 14 days after surgery. If the incision site has fully healed, then any sutures or staples will be removed and the e-collar will be discontinued (not all incisions are closed with sutures or staples). Rechecks are done in conjunction with rehabilitation sessions when applicable. Through physical examination and x-rays, Dr. Lewis will evaluate and make activity recommendations according to the healing and specific needs of your pet.
If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency and you are not able to reach us, please take your pet to the nearest emergency clinic.