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  • Recovery after Surgery

    Recovery after surgery

    After surgery you should not allow your bitch (or any animal that has recently had surgery) to have their normal play sessions, use the stairs or do any jumping such as up to the sofa or a chair, and you should not allow any off-lead time as there is a possiblity of your bitch developing a hernia.

    You should check the wound daily, and look for signs of infection, redness or discharge.

    • Bowel movements:
      • Many dogs will not have a bowel movement for up to 4 or 5 days following surgery. The reasons for this can be: the dog was fasting prior to surgery, they may not have had an appetite away from home if the surgery involved a longer hospital stay, pain medication can cause constipation.

      • If your dog has not had a bowel movement 5 days after surgery, contact your vet. Your dog may well need the help of a stool softener.

    • If your dog won’t eat following surgery:
      • Most dogs won’t eat for the first day or two following surgery, so this is of no major concern if you find your dog won’t eat. If it goes on longer than a day or two, contact your vet for help.
      • Most dogs won’t eat their normal kibble/dog food following surgery.
      • They will often eat a diet of carbohydrates and protein, if not eating their own food. Protein can be chicken or turkey breast, or lean hamburger, and the carbohydrate source can be pasta, rice or potato.

    • Vomiting or regurgitation
      • Figure out if your dog is vomiting or regurgitating. Vomiting is usually accompanied by heaving, noticeable around the abdomen. Regurgitation happens when your dog just opens their mouth and expels, and it is usually clear or brown liquid.

        • Vomiting

          • Sometimes after surgery a dog will come home and drink a lot of water, then vomit. If this happens, limit water intake to small and frequent small amounts.
          • Medication such as painkillers or antibiotics can cause vomiting. To see which might be affecting your dog, give them at least 2 hours apart. If it is the medication causing the vomiting, speak with your vet. You vet may change the medication or advise you to discontinue it.
          • An upset stomach from anaesthesia is a regular occurrence, but should pass within a day or two.

        • Regurgitation
          • Acid reflux is the most common cause of regurgitation after surgery. Acidic fluid from the stomach can cause a chemical burn of the oesophagus and result in a bad case of heart burn, called oesophagitis. This results in poor motility of the oesophagus, therefore water and food will accumulate in this structure. In most cases, oesphagitis is self-eliminating and will resolve within two or three days.

    • Signs of pain
      • Crying
      • Biting, growling or other signs of aggression when near the area operated on
      • Panting
      • Pacing
      • Restlessness
      • Not lying where the wound is and continually sits up even though very tired.

    • Managing Pain
      • If your dog is in pain and you were not given pain medication for your dog, speak with your vet. It may be that your vet thought pain medication was not needed, but all dogs are individuals and some can tolerate pain better than others.
      • If you are given pain medication and your dog is still finding it hard to rest enough to sleep, a light sedative may also be given by your vet, enabling your dog to rest properly and get the benefits from sleep.
      • Sometimes a cold pack can help, depending on what surgery they have gone through. Your vet will advise you if this is a good idea. Cold packs range from a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea-towel, to a gel pack, to a lunch bag with crushed ice in it.

    • Licking the wound
      • Allowing your dog to lick the wound from surgery is not a good idea. It can delay the healing process, and can introduce an infection from bacteria in the dogs mouth.
      • Licking can remove the stitches, causing the wound to reopen, and a return trip to the vets
      • Dogs will lick the wound if they are not supervised, so Buster collars (cone/lampshades/Elizabethan collars - they have many names) are a good idea as it prevents the dog from getting near to the wound.
      • A t-shirt can also be put on the dog to stop them licking the wound. Gathering the t-shirt up at the top of the dogs back and securing it with an elastic band around the gathered up section, can prevent them getting at the wound.

    To view a photo of what an infected uterus looks like, click here
    This was from a 10 year old Lab, weighing 55lb. After the operation, the weight was 51lb. 4lbs of the Labs weight was made up from ovaries, uterus and pus. Normally, the entire uterus in a 40-pound dog will weigh two to four ounces, but in cases of pyometra, the weight of the uterus and ovaries including pus typically ranges from one to four pounds.