1) My pet has been restless and crying all night. Are they in pain?
With every orthopedic surgery it is our aim to provide sufficient pain control for our patients to ensure they are as comfortable as possible during their recovery period. In most cases, your pet will receive an epidural while they are under general anesthesia. This provides pain relief before the actual surgery has begun and lasts 6 to 8 hours post operatively. Additional pain medication is given during their hospital stay and will be sent home with you at the time of discharge. The medication we have prescribed for your animal should allow him or her to rest comfortably when they return home.

In most cases restlessness and crying/vocalizing is an after effect of the anesthesia itself. Your pet may feel disoriented or still groggy from the drugs it has received while in clinic. The stress of being away from home in an unfamiliar environment may also contribute to this behaviour. It is not uncommon for these effects to take several hours to subside. DO NOT administer any medication above the amount prescribed.  If your pet still seems agitated the following day, please contact your veterinarian.

2) My pet hasn’t gone to the bathroom since they have been home. Is that normal?
It is completely normal to have your pet take up to 5 days to become “regular” again. They are fasted the night before and should have an empty stomach on the day of their surgery. An epidural is also performed while they are under general anesthesia which can slow down the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, some of the medications sent home can cause constipation. However if your animal is straining or consistently trying to go to the washroom, there may be cause for concern. With all of these things considered, it may take a few days for your pet to urinate and/or have a bowel movement.

3) Does my pet need to wear the cone the entire time?
The cone should remain on your pet until sutures are removed. This is usually between 10 to 14 days after their surgery date. If your pet is reluctant to walk or eat with the cone on, you can remove it as long as they are under your DIRECT supervision to prevent them from licking or chewing at the surgical site. Otherwise the cone should be on at all times, especially overnight and when you are away from the home. This may seem unfair to you and your pet, but this is an essential part of preventing infection and future complications that can include additional surgery costs and another anesthetic for your animal.

4) My pet has been licking, is their incision infected?
After surgery, it is important to monitor your pet’s incision daily. In general:

Normal Incision Abnormal Incision
Swelling around the incision and surgical leg for the first week Swelling around the incision and surgical leg that lasts longer than the first week
Bruising on the leg  Bruising on the leg    Discharge that is not clear, blood tinged, or any discharge after the first few days
Small amount of clear or blood tinged discharge from incision (first few days only) Large amount of discharge or bleeding
Mild discomfort around the incision and leg itself Discomfort that continues after pain medication and icing
Warm to the touch around the leg Discomfort that causes your pet to cry out or bite

If you feel that your pet’s incision is compromised, please contact your veterinarian. Remember, the best way to avoid the potential for infection is to prevent your animal from licking or chewing at the surgical site by having them wear the cone provided.

5)  When do my pet’s stitches come out? Do I need to book an appointment?
Suture removal can be done between 10 to 14 days after your pet has had surgery. This is performed at no additional charge. You do not need to book an appointment with a veterinarian unless you are concerned, but please phone before you come to ensure one of our Animal Health Technologists will be available.  If you have been referred to our clinic by your regular veterinarian, it is perfectly acceptable for you to return to your regular clinic and they can perform the suture removal there.

6) How do I remove my pet’s bandage safely?
Post-surgical bandaging varies from patient to patient depending on the surgical procedure performed. Bandage after care, changing, and removal will be explained during your pet’s discharge.

If you have been advised to remove the bandage at home (TPLO, cruciate) here are a few helpful hints. If your pet is large or difficult to hold by yourself, assistance may be required to prevent injury to you or to your animal.

The best position to remove the bandage is to have your pet lay on their side with the bandaged limb facing up. Next, gently insert a pair of blunt scissors under the bandage material and proceed to cut the bandage to the base of the foot. Most incisions are on the inside of the leg or near the front of the knee area, so guide your scissors down the middle portion of the thigh to avoid contact with the incision itself.

The tensor tape material at the top can become quite sticky after a day or two and may cause pain when it is removed from the sensitive skin on the inside of your pet’s groin area. If they seem uncomfortable or painful when removing this portion, you can apply vegetable or mineral oil to the sticky part to help counteract the glue. Once this has soaked in, continue to remove the bandage.

If you are not comfortable removing the bandage at home, you can book an appointment and have an Animal Health Technician remove it for you in our clinic at no additional charge.

7)  Can I give all of the medication at the same time?
Yes. The medications prescribed to your animal are meant to work in conjunction with one another. If you do not give the medication for the duration it has been prescribed, your pet will be unnecessarily painful. If your animal is painful and sore, it may increase their healing time and hinder the recovery process.

If you have any questions or concerns with medications your pet is currently on, or that has been prescribed at the time of their surgery please feel free to ask one of our Animal Health Technologists at your pet’s discharge, or any time after.

8)  My pet is feeling great. When can he go back to exercising normally?
Your pet may act as though he or she is feeling much better than they actually are. It is very important that YOU limit your pet’s activity according to the guidelines set out in the post-operative program. As with humans, animals need a recovery period of at least 8-12 weeks to start to develop scar tissue. If your animal is too active, this can severely hinder the healing process and can in fact negatively affect the surgery. This can result in a prolonged recovery time and in severe cases, an additional corrective surgery may be required.

Slow, steady progress over several months is the best way for your animal to heal properly and allow him or her to return to their previous lifestyle. If at any point during your pet’s recovery process they stop using the limb, cry out in pain or regress please contact your veterinarian immediately.