Post-surgery Complications in Pets: Red Flags to Watch Out for and When to Call Your Vet

After your pet undergoes surgery, watching them ensure a smooth and comfortable recovery is crucial. But how do you know when something is wrong? This article aims to inform pet owners about potential post-surgery complications, warning signs, and when to turn to your vet for help. 

From caring for your pet’s incision site to monitoring their behavior and appetite, our tips will help you provide the best care for your furry friend on their road to recovery.

Recovery Period and Activity Restrictions

Following surgery, keeping your pet relatively quiet and restricting their activity for at least 2-3 weeks is essential. This period allows their body to heal correctly. To prevent excessive strain on the incision site, be sure to limit activities such as jumping, running, and rough play. Leash-walk your dogs for only short periods and avoid giving them access to stairs or high surfaces where they may be tempted to jump.

Incision Care and Monitoring

Keep a close watch on your pet’s incision site for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, oozing, heat, or pain when touched. If you notice any of these signs, seek veterinary attention immediately. It’s also a good idea to avoid applying any topical substances like triple antibiotic ointments to the area, as these may cause your pet to lick or chew at it, potentially worsening their condition.

Emergency Pet Hospital

If your pet’s condition worsens or you’re concerned about potential complications, don’t hesitate to visit an emergency pet hospital. These facilities are equipped to handle urgent care situations, and their website often provides helpful resources and information to guide you through it.

Suture and Staple Care

It’s crucial to monitor the sutures or staples at the incision site and ensure none are missing or loose. If you notice any issues, particularly in the first few days post-op, promptly schedule a re-examination with your veterinarian. Missing sutures or staples can lead to dehiscence (opening up of the incision), posing severe risks to your pet’s health.

Preventing Pets from Licking or Chewing the Incision Site

It’s essential to prevent your pet (or housemates) from licking or chewing at the incision site, as this can cause skin irritation or infection. Using an E-collar (also known as a “cone of shame”) may be necessary. Consider confining your recovering pet away from curious siblings for 10-14 days while they heal.

Ensuring Proper Nutrition After Surgery

Typically, pets should regain their appetite within a few days after surgery. If your pet continues to show a lack of appetite, it may indicate discomfort or complications. In particular, cats cannot tolerate anorexia for long and may rapidly develop hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease). Appetite stimulants or temporary feeding tubes might be needed to ensure proper nutrition.

Pet Dental Care

While not directly related to post-surgery care, it’s important to remember that good general health includes taking care of your pet’s teeth. Regular check-ups with a veterinary dentist can help maintain your pet’s dental health and prevent complications that may require surgery in the future.

Monitoring for Vomiting and Diarrhea

Post-surgery vomiting or diarrhea could be a sign of underlying complications, such as infection or reaction to medication. If your pet is experiencing either of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately for guidance and assistance.

Recognizing Signs of Severe Abdominal Pain

It’s normal for your pet to experience some discomfort following surgery. However, if you notice persistent severe abdominal pain, such as unusual lethargy, hiding, hunched posture, guarding the abdomen, or vocalizing pain, it could indicate a severe problem like peritonitis (infection in the abdominal cavity). In this case, don’t hesitate to consult your vet for aggressive therapy.

Vet Surgery

If your pet needs veterinary surgery for any reason, choosing a skilled and experienced veterinary team is essential. They should guide you through the entire process, from preoperative preparations to postoperative care, ensuring the best possible outcomes for your furry companion.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, keeping a close eye on your pet after surgery is essential. Postoperative monitoring and care extend far beyond their time at the hospital. By familiarizing yourself with potential complications and red flags, you can address any abnormalities as they arise, ensuring a comfortable and smooth recovery for your beloved pet. When in doubt, always consult your veterinarian or emergency pet hospital for guidance and support.