Orthopedic surgery involves repairing a joint or bone that could have been caused by trauma or by a congenital condition that damages the joint. Unfortunately, we can’t protect our canine companions from everything and sooner or later, they may need orthopedic surgery. The post-surgery care takes a lot of time and patience, recovery is long, and there is a great deal of rehabilitation involved. If your dog falls into this category and has had (or requires) orthopedic surgery and you want to know the best way to help them after the procedure, then here is a guide to post-operative orthopedic surgery care. It isn’t an easy process and is something you can’t prepare yourself enough for, but when done right, the results are extremely rewarding and worthwhile.
Prepare the Car
Before you bring your pet home, you will need to prepare the car for the journey back, any rehabilitation you will need to attend, and for all the follow-up appointments with your vet. To prepare your vehicle, make sure you have a crate or secure boot for larger dogs (install a metal boot guard for security) for them to sit in, and pad this area as much as you possibly can. If possible, get a soft, padded hardness to strap them in with. If you have a larger dog that you struggle to lift, it would be worth purchasing a portable ramp so they can safely get in and out of the car without being insecurely lifted. You should never let your dog jump in and out of a vehicle. It sounds obvious, but make sure you drive with extra caution when your dog is in the vehicle with you.
After any kind of surgery, pet or human, you need to make sure activity is limited. This includes not taking your pet for a walk, not allowing them to jump on and off the furniture, and not letting them go up and down the stairs. Obviously, you will need to take your dog outside to go to the bathroom. When you do this, make sure they are on a leash. Getting something to help support them on their way to the bathroom, such as a help em up harness, is advisable. Make sure you speak to your vet about physiotherapy and other exercises to ensure their other muscles don’t weaken from a lack of activity.
Reduce Their Food
Due to the limited activity, your pet won’t need to eat as much as normal and they shouldn’t eat as much so they don’t gain weight. Maintaining your pet’s weight is important during their whole life, but it is essential during this time. If they gain weight, it will put more strain on their bones and joints, which can result in more pain and increase the recovery period. If they lose too much weight, they won’t be as strong and won’t be able to fight off infection as efficiently, so you need to make sure you find the perfect amount to keep them strong without becoming overweight.
Create a Safe Place
Set up a quiet place for your pet to rest. Make sure it is easily accessible, in an area they have positive feelings towards (such as the living room) and soft. It is a good idea for this place to be contained, for example, in a dog crate or a playpen. An orthopedic dog bed or easily washable padded bedding are the perfect materials to fill the pen or crate with. You can cover a crate with a blanket, so they feel even safer, warmer and more secure. You will need to monitor and maintain the temperature in their safe place. If it gets too hot, they will become uncomfortable and stressed. If it becomes too cold, as well as being uncomfortable, their joints will all seize up and stiffen, causing them more pain. Dogs like an area like this as it mimics a den, which is where their wild ancestors would retreat to for safety.
Cover Slippery Floors
If most of your house is covered with wooden or tiled flooring, then you need to make sure you take the necessary steps to cover this flooring to ensure their safety. Healthy dogs can slip and slide on this kind of flooring, so a dog who has been operated on will be at a higher risk of injuring themselves. To do so, use rugs with rubber backing to cover the floors and don’t let them walk around these areas without supervision. If they are particularly active and wander around a lot, then use baby gates to keep them contained in an area that is safe for them to walk on.
Follow Your Vet’s Advice
Your vet’s advice will be invaluable during your dog’s recovery. You need to make sure you ask them all the questions you can think of and listen to everything they say. Give your pet all the aftercare medications prescribed, such as antibiotics and painkillers, and follow the recommended rehabilitation guidelines. If you are unsure of how to give your dog the medication, make sure they show you the right way to do it. Many pets hide pain very well because they don’t like to show weakness. Your dog may seem to be his or her happy self, especially when they first see you after surgery, but they will actually be feeling as uncomfortable as you imagined they would be. Once pain hits, it can be difficult to get rid of it. Pain is much easier to manage than relieve, so staying on top of painkillers and medication is essential for your pet’s comfort and wellbeing.
The recovery process after orthopedic surgery takes months, so it’s vital that you follow the aftercare procedure properly. It can be emotionally draining, and things tend to get worse before they get better. You need to make sure you are financially, emotionally, and practically prepared for the time and energy it takes for your pet to recover. If you are, then this life-changing surgery is something you should consider if your pet requires it.