Whenever your pet has a fractured bone, routine operation or major veterinary surgery, they will need to undergo anaesthetic. One of the most common procedures seen in a vet surgery where your pet will undergo sedation is when spaying a dog or spaying a cat, or any other neutering procedure. They may also be given sedation for dogs or cats if your vet needs to take x-rays to help keep them still and get clear imagery, without causing your pet distress or pain.
Anaesthetic can always be scary to pet owners due to the general risks that are involved. Most healthy pets don’t tend to encounter problems when they are anesthetized, as the risks involved tend to relate more to the procedure that is being done or the general health status of the pet itself.
The risks with anaesthesia itself can range from mild vomiting once they wake up, to (very rarely) cardiac arrest or stroke. Usually, the minimal risk of administering anaesthetic to your pet hugely outweighs the benefits from the surgery the need to undergo.
Post-operative pet care
Your vet will give you advice specific to your cat or dog care, as each pet and procedure is different and may come with certain requirements that are not recommended after every surgery. They will prescribe any veterinary medicine that your pet will require through their recovery process.
We will share the general recommendations for post-operative care for your pets. However, if your vet has made alternative recommendations then you should follow those. You should always follow your vet’s advice as they have physically seen and assessed your pet.
Remember to keep a close eye on your pet over the first 48 hours as these are the crucial hours during your pet’s recovery. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, or have any concerns, please call your vet straight away for advice.
Firstly, when you pick up your vet from the veterinary practice, you may notice that they have been partially shaved. This can either be the site of the surgery or a place on their leg where the anaesthetic or other drugs have been injected. Please don’t be alarmed by this as the fur tends to grow back within a couple of months. We recommend that you carry them to your car and lift them in to ensure they are safe. They should not jump up after surgery as they will have stitches and you don’t want to cause them to burst. They will also still be drowsy from the anaesthetic, so even if your pet only had an xray and does not have stitches, we still recommend you lift them as they may misjudge the jump or not have the energy to complete it.
We recommend that you take them straight home, don’t stop off anywhere on the way. Your pet will benefit from getting straight back to their comfortable and safe environment so that they can rest and heal. You pet will likely be sleepy, drowsy and quiet for the next 48 hours while the anaesthetic gets out of their system. If your pet had to have an intubation tube in their throat during the procedure, you may notice a cough due to the irritation in their esophagus and this will normally subside within 5 days of the procedure.
If you have other pets or children at home, then it may be beneficial to keep them away while your pet is recovering. Your pet will need to rest following any procedure, and your vet may advise up to 4 weeks of strict cage rest if they have had a large operation.
Bare in mind that your pet’s toilet habits may change for a few days post-anaesthetic as their digestive system will have slowed down under the drugs. Your pet’s gut health is one of the important indicators for your overall cat or dog health. If this change goes on for more than 48 hours, or you are worried about the consistency or colour of your pet’s faeces then please get in touch with your vet for clarification.
To help with their slower digestion, you should feed the dog or cat small amounts of food throughout the 48 hours, instead of their usual larger meals once or twice a day.
Your pet will likely need to attend a follow up consultation with your dog or other pet to check on their recovery progress following their procedure. This will ensure that your pet is healing as they should and should not be missed even if your pet seems like they have recovered well.
Medication following surgery
If your pet has been prescribed any medication by your vet, then make sure to follow the administration instructions they have provided. If you’re unsure of the dosage you should be giving to your pet, then please speak to your vet for clarification. If you are struggling to get your pet to take their medication, try and hide it in their food and adjust meal times around their required doses. If you still have problems getting them to take their medication, then please speak to your vet to give you further advice.
If your pet’s toilet habits are extremely affected (runny or bloody) following medication, then speak to your vet immediately as they may be having an adverse reaction to the medication.
How to care for your pet’s stitches
If your vet has been able to use dissolvable stitches during the surgery, then these will dissolve by themselves and will not need to be removed by the vet. However, if your vet has used non-dissolvable stitches, they will need to be removed at your practice around 10-14 days post-surgery as recommended by your vet. It is imperative that your pet cannot lick, wet or bite these stitches as it could cause them to open or get infected.
Your vet will provide a buster collar to help keep your pet from licking the stitches, but you may want to buy your own as some retailers offer a ‘comfier’, softer version. If your pet does not get along with the collar, you may be able to buy a suitable jacket/garment for your pet which covers the stitches and surgery site to stop them being able to lick it through the clothing.
When should you call your vet?
If you think that something is not quite right with your pet following their procedure, please contact us on 02045199857 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with our Ealing vet or on 02045192670 and at email@example.com to speak with our Greenford vet as they may need urgent medical attention.
It is always much better to check on something and be told that it is not an issue, than to leave a serious issue undetected or untreated.
Look out for any of the following signs that could be an indicator that you need to take your pet back to the vet:
Save our handy post-op infographic to help you through the recovery process: