Caring for Your Dog After Orthopedic Surgery: Managing Pain and Speeding Recovery

When your pet undergoes any surgery, it is important for pet parents to know how to care for their dog after the procedure. Recovery can be a long and frustrating process, and that is even more true for orthopedic surgery. Here, our Apple Valley vets provide you with advice on how to care for your dog and manage their pain after orthopedic surgery.

Veterinary orthopedic surgery is an umbrella term that refers to any veterinary surgery which addresses issues in your pet's joints, ligaments, bones, tendons and any other tissue associated with their skeletal system.

The healing process can be stressful for you and your pet, so here are some tips for helping your dog's recovery from their orthopedic surgery be a quick and healthy as possible.

Follow Your Veterinarian's Instructions

After undergoing orthopedic surgery, your veterinary surgeon or veterinarian will provide you with clear instructions for handling your pet's post-operative care once they are able to return home. Make sure you are paying careful attention to your vet's instructions and taking notes if need be. 

However, don't be afraid to ask for clarification or, if you realize you have forgotten some aspect of your pet's post-operative care, to call your vet to remind you. Your vet wants the best for your pet, just like you do, and they will be happy to help.

Managing the After-Effects of Anesthesia

Orthopedic surgeries are done under general anesthesia, which may cause your pooch to feel queasy or to lose their appetite as they recover from its immediate effects. Make sure to feed your dog a light meal (such as rice and chicken) to ease their digestion.

They should have recovered from the effects of the general anesthesia within 24 hours.

Keeping Your Dog Comfortable And Restricting Movement

After your dog's orthopedic surgery, it's likely that your animal orthopedic surgeon will advise you to restrict your dog's movement for a period of time. Your pup will likely not be very energetic or want to move very much initially, but confining your dog and preventing them from running, jumping, or other strenuous activities is key to them making a full recovery as time goes on.

The best way to accomplish this is by confining your four-legged friend to either a playpen (if they are smaller) or to their own room (if they are medium or larger) without anything to jump on or injure themselves with. For some orthopedic surgery, your vet may recommend a strict confinement of "crate rest" for some of all of your dog's recovery period.

Make sure you make whatever space you dog is confined to as comfortable for them as possible, with their favorite toys, blankets and cushions and lots of space to spread out and relax.

Managing Your Dog's Pain After Orthopedic Surgery

Your dog's orthopedic veterinarian or veterinary nurse will take the time to explain to you what medications they are prescribing your pup to manage their post-surgery pain. This includes the required dose, the way you should administer it and how often to do so.

Make sure you stick to your vet's instructions as much as possible to ensure efficacy and reduce the chance of side effects.

The most commonly prescribed pain management treatments prescribed are antibiotics to reduce the chances of infection and pain medications. If your dog is anxious or high-strung, your vet may also prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or mild sedative to help your dog remain calm throughout the process.

Typical Recovery Times Following Orthopedic Surgery

The length of time required to recover from surgery will always depend on a number of factors, including the kind of surgery, your dog's age, general health and rehabilitation needs while they recover. 

As a general rule, most soft tissue surgeries like spaying, neutering, or abdominal surgeries will be mostly healed by the 2-3 week mark and may be fully healed by a month-and-a-half after the operation. 

Orthopedic surgeries, however, can take much longer to heal. Your dog will likely be mostly healed between 2 and 3 months after the procedure and it can take up to 6 months for them to fully recover. 

At Bear Valley Animal Hospital, our veterinarians are here to help you and your dog through the long road to recovery from orthopedic surgery. For questions about orthopedic surgeries, providing your dog with proper post-operative care, and managing their pain, contact our Apple Valley vets today.