Post-Surgical FAQs

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Post-Surgical FAQs2023-02-09T15:50:20+11:00

Has your pet recently had a procedure with Booragoon Vet?  We hope these FAQs will assist with any questions you might find yourself pondering!

If you have a question that isn’t covered here, please don’t hesitate to call 9330 1665 during office hours. If your concern occurs after-hours, and you’re worried, please don’t hesitate to call an emergency centres.

How can I expect my pet to behave after anaesthetic or sedation?2023-02-09T15:35:05+11:00

It takes between 8 and 24 hours for anaesthetic drugs to work their way out of a pet’s system. During this time, different behaviours can be noticed. Every pet is different: some will be barely affected, and bouncing around like nothing happened; others will be very sleepy and groggy, even wobbly on their feet; still others will appear restless, anxious, may be whiny or more vocal than usual, and seem unable to settle, perhaps more clingy than usual. All of these things are normal. You may see a small amount of coughing or heavy swallowing in the first 24 hours after procedures that involved an endotracheal tube being placed to help your pet breathe during anaesthesia, this is normal.

When should I worry that my pet is not recovering normally?2023-02-09T15:35:29+11:00

If your pet demonstrates any of the following, we suggest you seek advice from the clinic (or from an emergency centre if your concern is after hours):

– A deep sleep from which they cannot be easily roused
– Inability to walk at all, extreme wobbliness on their feet or seeming dizzy or disoriented
– Profuse vomiting or diarrhoea
– Bleeding from any surgical sites or from the mouth or anus
– Significant whining or yelping when you touch them
– Any difficulty breathing
– Pale gums
– Significant drooling
– Failure to eat, drink or wee for a full 24 hours

When should I expect normal eating, drinking and toileting behaviour to resume?2023-02-09T15:35:51+11:00

Many of the anaesthetic drugs we use have an impact on the gastrointestinal tract. Many animals can take up to 72 hours after anaesthetic to pass stool, especially if they have had opiate medication prescribed. Many animals will not eat dinner the night of their procedure, or if they do, their appetite may be impaired. It’s also possible that the might feel nauseated and may vomit if given a large meal, particularly if their procedure ran late. We recommend feeding a small amount of food when you get your pet home. If they keep that down and still seem hungry, try feeding the rest of a normal meal 30-60 minutes later.

What should I feed my pet after anaesthetic?2023-02-09T15:36:18+11:00

If your pet has had a routine sedation or anaesthetic, you can continue to feed their normal diet. We recommend feeding a small amount of food when you get your pet home. If they keep that down and still seem hungry, try feeding the rest of a normal meal 30-60 minutes later.

Water should be made available at all times. If your pet is not drinking, we DO NOT recommend syringing water – this can lead to breathing the water in and lots of complications in the lungs. Your pet has had IV fluids during their procedure. These provide excellent hydration, and it’s possible your pet may not be super-thirsty for the first 12 hours after surgery. This is especially true if you’re feeding soft food – this is full of water and may offset some of the need to drink. If your pet hasn’t drunk in 24 hours, please contact the clinic.

If your pet has had a dental procedure, we recommend feeding something softer than usual the night after their procedure, as their mouth may be sensitive.

If your pet has had dental extractions, we recommend soft food for up to 7 days depending on the severity of the extractions and which teeth were removed. Your vet will make specific recommendations for your pet, but please call us if you have any questions.

If your pet has had surgery on the gastrointestinal tract, you will be provided with a gut-supportive food that is easily digestible and does not leave much residue for your pet’s gut to have to deal with. We recommend you feed several small meals per day (2-4 tablespoons per feeding every 2 hours or so is best) for the first 3 days after surgery, moving through to 4 meals per day for a full week. This is to reduce the load on your pet’s gut and ensure everything keeps moving.

What should I do if my pet has oral medications that say “WITH FOOD” but my pet is not eating?2023-02-09T15:36:38+11:00

Please do not administer medications that recommend being given with food unless your pet has eaten at least a few tablespoons of food – they can cause gut upset and worsen a low appetite. Please contact the clinic if your pet hasn’t eaten in time for a medication dosage, as we may need to organise to give your pet injectable or alternative medications.

How will I know if my pet is in pain?2023-02-09T15:37:00+11:00

Every pet demonstrates pain differently. Some, particularly cats, will simply hide away in a small dark space and avoid all contact. Others will whine and become very clingy. Otherwise will simply tough it out. Generally, the symptoms of pain include rapid heart rate and breathing rate, panting excessively, drooling, vomiting, yelping or flinching when touched in painful spots, being unable to settle or get comfortable, and trying desperately to lick at sore spots. If you think there’s a chance your pet is in pain, please contact the clinic or an emergency centre if after hours and describe the symptoms to a professional who can give the best advice for your individual concern.

What post-operative complications could I expect?2023-02-09T15:37:51+11:00

Every procedure comes with its own set of possible complications. The most common are listed below:

  1. Wound infection or breakdown – this occurs where a wound becomes infected (usually through your pet licking in spite of the elizabethan collar), or excessive wound tension puts strain on the sutures and they become loose, broken or damaged. A surgical wound should be neat and clean, free from redness or discharge, and the wound edges should touch each other, with regular sutures. If your pet’s wound is red, swollen, oozing any discharge/blood/pus, sutures seem to be missing or the wound edges don’t touch, please contact the clinic straight away for advice.
  2. Bleeding – many surgeries involve the tying off of blood vessels, eg. internally, like a spey or spleen removal, or externally, as in a lump removal or tooth removal. If your pet is bleeding externally, you will usually be able to see evidence of blood on their body/mouth or in their saliva, or in places they have laid down like beds or carpets. You could also see lots of bruising around their wound, or seepage of blood from the wound. If your pet is bleeding internally, typical symptoms include severe lethargy, weakness, pale gums, rapid breathing, a swelling abdomen and difficulty standing and walking. If there’s ANY evidence of bleeding, please contact the clinic immediately (or an after hours clinic if after clinic hours).
  3. Swelling/seroma – a seroma is a collection of fluid that can develop underneath a surgical wound or in a surgical region. The fluid usually develops due to friction (ie. excessive movement), or in response to the natural reaction of your pet’s immune system to the surgical trauma and/or the sutures placed. Seromae can be a normal occurrence, but they should always be checked by a vet to ensure there’s no additional treatment required. Please call 9330 1665 if your pet develops a swelling in the wound region.
Do I need to do anything for the wound?2023-02-09T15:38:14+11:00

If it’s a routine surgical wound, the only job you have is to check it every day for swelling, discharge or smell, and MAKE SURE YOU KEEP YOUR PET’S CONE ON. Pets heal wounds really well, and need limited intervention. Please do not bathe your pet while the sutures are in place.

If your pet has had a wound left open (eg. some abscesses) or a drain placed, you can expect that there may be some discharge from the wound or drain. We recommend this area be kept clean. Soak some swabs or paper towel in warm, salty water and let it sit against any dried discharge. Once it has softened (may take a minute or two), you can then gently agitate the discharge and wipe it away. Make sure you pat the area dry carefully after you’ve cleaned it. If you’re having trouble keeping it clean, please contact the clinic. Do not allow your pet to lick at any collected discharge.

If your pet has had a dressing placed, we recommend this be removed 24-48 hours after surgery. It will be very sticky around the edges and your pet might not like having it removed. If you’re struggling, please soak the edges of the sticky bandage in coconut oil or olive oil or even warm water – you’ll find the adhesive softening and this will make it easier to remove. Please don’t hesitate to contact the clinic if you can’t remove it, as we can easily help you!

If your pet has a proper bandage on a limb after surgery, it will generally be recommended that it be removed or changed after 3-5 days – you will be instructed about this when you pick your pet up. If the bandage becomes wet, or your pet has been licking it, please contact the clinic immediately as a wet bandage sitting against the skin can cause severe infections.

When can I exercise my pet after their procedure?2023-02-09T15:39:09+11:00

Each procedure will have specific exercise limitations.

  • For routine surgery like desexing, lump removal or wound treatments, we expect your pet to be rested from standard exercise until their sutures are removed. You can take your pet out to the toilet on a lead several times per day to allow them to gently move around. In the case of cats we recommend they be kept indoors, preferably in a room where their movement can be limited. Your vet will advise you if you can resume exercise earlier.
  • For a routine procedure like a dental, your pet can resume normal exercise 24 hours after their procedure
  • For orthopaedic surgery, very specific exercise limitations are recommended to ensure the bones and joints heal properly. You will be provided with these recommendations post-op, but please contact the clinic with any questions. A general guide would be that the pet be cage-rested with lead-walking to toilet or carrying to toilet for 5-7 days, followed by confinement to a single room for a further 7 days. Between days 14 and 28, your pet should be confined to the house. At day 21, we will usually recommend very careful reintroduction of exercise, building up from 5 minutes lead walking 2-3 times daily to 20 minutes 2-3 times daily over the course of a further 3 weeks. From 6-8 weeks post-operatively, a  more normal exercise schedule can be instituted, but we do not recommend off-lead or heavy exercise (eg. ball-chasing, beach running etc) for 12 weeks after surgery.
Help – I can’t keep my pet’s cone on!2023-02-09T15:39:38+11:00

Some animals are more tolerant of elizabethan cone collars than others. Keeping your pet away from their surgical wounds is absolutely critical to the success of their wound healing, so if you’re struggling to keep the cone on, please seek assistance IMMEDIATELY, don’t leave it until you see the vet at your post-op check. We recommend that where possible your pet’s own collar should be threaded through the loops of the collar rather than a ribbon, as they are usually less stretchy and more comfortable. The collar should be tight enough to prevent your pet from pulling the cone over their head, but you should still be able to easily slide two fingers under the collar to ensure it’s not overly tight. DO NOT TAKE THE COLLAR OFF unless under your vet’s direction.

There are lots of alternative options that we can talk through with you if you’re having trouble – soft cones that are like airplane pillows, t-shirts or socks that can be fashioned into covers, antiseptic bitter sprays that can discourage your pet from licking and so on. Please call the clinic with any questions.

When should I see the vet again?2023-02-09T15:39:58+11:00

We generally recommend post-op rechecks at 3-5 days post-op, and again at 10-14 days post-op. The first check is to make sure your pet is healing well and doesn’t need additional medication or intervention. The second is to do a final wound check and remove the sutures. If your pet requires additional revisits, these will be discussed and booked at your discharge. If your pet has had a procedure and you do not have a revisit booked, please call the clinic asap to check on this, as it would be very unusual that we would not want to see them for at least one checkup after their procedure.  You will receive a call from our nursing team within 24 hours of your pet’s procedure, so you’re welcome to discuss the post-surgical plan with them at this time.

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