Pets undergo surgery all the time, such as getting spayed or neutered, declawing or dew clawing etc. While these surgeries are routine (as are teeth extraction and stitches for wounds) the first 72 hours after getting “fixed” or fixed up are crucial at home to allow your pet to heal properly. Follow some simple tips to help your pet recover as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Have your home ready with a “sick room” for your pet. Have bedding on the floor for your pet to lie on and low-lipped dishes close to the bedding so your pet does not have to walk across the room to get a drink of water or a bite to eat. Keep the room quiet and free of small children and other pets so your recovering animal won’t be disturbed. For cats, have a cookie sheet or tin foil with litter in it so they don’t have to climb into a litter box to relieve themselves.
Don’t encourage excitement when your pet comes home. Your animal may be happy to be home, but don’t let them jump on you or rush for their toys, as they can further injure themselves. Spayed and neutered pets are not encouraged to jump or climb for 72 hours, so refrain from over-exciting your pet by keeping a calm demeanor even if they are acting overjoyed simply to be home. Don’t let them jump out of the car and jump at the door, and keep them in your arms if you are able or on a short leash to transport them to the house.
Try not to over-indulge your pet from attention. They may be hurt, but most animals prefer to heal alone. Over-crowding your pet when they are hurt can cause anxiety, as they don’t know why their hurt and your baby talk to them can make them anxious about it. Give them their space.
For animals with mouth injuries, keep them away from chew toys and hard foods. Either soak their hard kibble in water or tuna fish oils, or switch to canned foods for a few days.
Watch their bandages and stitches. Spray their wounds with an anti-lick spray that will discourage licking. If your vet provides a cone and your dog or cat is a licker/chewer, keep it on the animal. Your vet can provide you with an anti-lick spray as well, or it can be purchased in the pet section of your local drug or grocery store.
Take your dog out with you to relieve themselves outdoors. This way you can monitor them to make sure they are not digging in the yard or jumping around (especially puppies). Have a long wide board available as a ramp or carry your pet up and down the stairs to go outdoors, or if you have a large dog, take them out on a leash to safely guide them outside. Many spays and neuters have difficulty urinating or defecating the first 24 hours due to tightened muscles, so if they trinkle or defecate a few times to relieve themselves, don’t be alarmed. If your pet expresses distress while relieving themselves or cannot appear to go at all, call your vet to see if you should be concerned.
For injured birds, reptiles, and rodents, remove exercise toys, rocks, and high perches. Cover their enclosures with a blanket to keep them calm and keep the food and water on the ground to prevent having to move about the enclosure. Provide wood shavings as a bedding to allow them to rest, and don’t allow loud noises or noticeable activity that can cause them to start. Keep these animals away from drafts and over excitement as well.
If your pet normally sleeps in bed with you, keep bedding on the floor so they have a resting place. Discourage couch jumping or climbing by placing barriers around your furniture or by keeping your pet in the “sick room”.
Don’t let other animals bug your pet. Other animals may lick at their wounds or attempt to play and irritate your pet. You want your injured animal to heal, not be agitated. Mother dogs can be comforting to their injured pups, however, and cats to kittens. Just monitor their interaction and watch out for licking and smothering.
Of course, call your veterinarian if your pet seems in great distress. If you have pain meds or anxiety meds for your pet, provide them as directed and don’t miss out on doses. So long as you keep an eye on your pet and provide them a bit of assistance, they should heal up without issue.