Pets are as beloved as people in many households, making dealing with medical emergencies very challenging. After your pet has been hurt badly or needed emergency surgery, your entire world can be turned upside down. Here's some help in how to aid their recovery with as few complications or interruptions as possible.
Keep All Medical Supplies and the Vet's Phone Number Handy
Along with the instructions the vet sent you and your pet home with, keep everything your pet will need for recovery together, neatly organized and away from anything that could contaminate it. Use gloves when caring for your pet, if you've been advised to do so, and if the pet's aftercare is complicated, keep a journal of what you do and any observations you make.
Limit Your Pet's Activity
Even if your four-legged friend is normally hyper and active, it's very important that they not jump or run around or exert themselves in any way following surgery. They will likely have a lot of nervous energy pent up, so you may need to spend a lot of time keeping them calm. This can be accomplished by sitting near them, gently stroking them in a non-affected area and quietly comforting them with your words. If needed, the vet will offer you recommendations for keeping the animal inactive, such as leaving them in a crate to recoup.
Keep The House Quiet, If Possible
Your pet will benefit from having a quiet place in which to heal, even if it means isolating them from family activity. If you have toddlers running around, for example, you don't want an injured cat or dog lying vulnerable in the living room. Place the animal behind closed doors or otherwise keep the normal chaos of your household away from them. A parakeet, who might have emergency surgery on a feather cyst, which forms when a feather doesn't grow properly, has the ability to perceive and absorb sound from all directions, making a little peace and quiet all the more necessary. Since cats tend to be jumpy, a lot of activity could keep one from devoting the sleep it needs for healing. And of course, dogs usually love to be front-and-center when anything is going on with the humans they adore, meaning everyone needs to contribute to lowering the noise levels.
Monitor What Your Pet Eats, Drinks, and Excretes
Following any surgery, your pet may not feel like eating or drinking much, the same way you might experience a loss of appetite and thirst; however, especially if the vet has asked to be informed of this activity, you're better off keeping a chart of it than trying to remember it all. Keep track of bathroom activity, too, either by watching closely when you take your dog outside, checking on the litter box, or looking in the cage, aquarium, terrarium, or whatever dwelling your pet occupies. An accident or injury can also affect an animal emotionally, and since mood may play a major role in appetite, it may be difficult for your pet to get back in the swing of things with food.
Make Sure the Animal Is Kept Comfortable
The vet will let you know if you need to make special arrangements in the immediate environment of the animal, such as lowering or raising the thermostat. With anesthesia involved, your pet may have a hard time self-regulating temperature initially or, given their limited activity, may not acclimate to cooler temps.
Watch the Suture Site for Signs of Infection
Symptoms of infection can appear at any wound site but may be more likely if the area is exposed to any friction or contaminants. Watch for them and alert the vet, if applicable, immediately:
- Any bleeding from the wound.
- Puss leaking through the sutures.
- Swelling and/or discoloration.
- Warmth or odor coming from the area.
- Apparent pain and/or discomfort above and beyond what the vet warned you about.
Avoid Allowing Your Pet to Interact With Other Animals
Unless the vet at the animal hospital specifically told you it would be okay for your pet to interact with any other animal, don't allow it. Even calm animals can sniff or lick the area operated on, possibly disturbing it. Since it's difficult to predict how two animals will act together, it's better to keep the injured one by itself while healing.
Sleep Near the Pet If You're Able To
Most especially if your pet has gone through something traumatic and treatment was intense, it's a good idea to keep a close watch over them, even during the night. If you're able, either keep the animal in the room you sleep in or camp out in their sleeping area. Although you might be slightly inconvenienced or even a little sore in the morning, keeping vigil can help them stay calm or even alert you to complications or side-effects much quicker than if you weren't right there by their side.
Keep Your Post-Op Appointments
No matter how well you feel your pet is recuperating, it's important to keep all your follow-up appointments. The vet who did the surgery will likely refer you to your regular vet for those visits and they're essential to making sure everything is going accordingly. Bring your notes and any questions you have and get help from someone if transporting the animal is precarious due to the nature of their injuries.
If you're concerned about your pet's health, make an appointment at a clinic like Seattle Emergency Veterinary Hospital.