SURGERY- WHAT TO EXPECT

What age you should have your pet spayed or neutered?

The exact age can vary depending on the breed and health of your pet. Getting your pet altered before its first heat cycle can help prevent mammary tumors or breast cancer. Many animal shelters will alter pets prior to adoption, often between 8-12 weeks of age. This helps assure the animal will not reproduce but some veterinarians worry about the risk of urinary complications. It is best to discuss the appropriate age for your individual pet with your veterinarian, but a general guideline is between 12-20 weeks.

 

Home Care for Dogs After Surgery

 

Once your pet returns home following surgery, follow all your veterinarian’s instructions and call anytime you have a question. Restrict your pet’s activity, even if they seem to be doing fine. The incision needs time to heal. Make sure they does not lick or chew at the sutures and her appetite and attitude are normal. If your pet was sent home with an Elizabethan collar to prevent licking, use it.

If your pet seems to be acting abnormal or appears to be in pain, consult your veterinarian. Do not give medication not recommended by your veterinarian. Certain over the counter anti-inflammatories that are quite effective in people have the potential to be toxic in dogs.

The Incision Area

 

Some veterinarians will use dissolvable sutures and "skin glue" that absorbs away after approximately two weeks. Other veterinarians will use silk, nylon or metal sutures that require a return visit to the vet's office for removal after 10-14 days. Regardless of the type of suture, the dog will need to remain dry for about 2 weeks. Any bathing should be done prior to surgery and any water activities will need to be postponed for two weeks. Outdoor dogs may need to be kept indoors to avoid laying in wet grass or playing in a swimming pool.

 

In addition to staying dry, dogs must not be allowed to lick, scratch or disturb the incision area. Any disruption could lead to infection or the need to re-suture. To avoid irritating the area, many pets will need to be fitted with an Elizabethan collar, a cone-shaped plastic collar available at most pet stores. These specially designed collars come in various sizes and are not painful for the dog. They can be removed during feeding times and are usually no longer necessary after 10-14 days.

Some swelling, redness and the development of hard tissue is normal as the incision area begins to heal. Bleeding or other discharge could be a sign of infection and should be quickly seen by the veterinarian. Do not use any products internally or externally on your dog without asking a veterinarian. Many common medications or cleansers suitable for humans are not safe for dogs.

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