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Post-Op Care

It can be a stressful time when your pet has just had surgery. There are many factors to consider during your pet’s recovery. Here are a few things to take into account:

First Night Post-Op
Your pet’s first night at home after surgery can be tough! He is still coming out of the anesthetic and may be experiencing some dysphoria. Your pet may still be groggy from the anesthetic so it is recommended that you keep your pet away from stairs and other obstacles on which he can injure himself.

Your pet will likely be more sleepy than usual the day of surgery – this is completely normal! Let your pet have a quiet night at home. For dogs, take them out for a bathroom break on a leash to ensure they are not running wild. By the next day, most pets have returned to their normal energy levels, however; it is important they are kept quiet until your veterinarian has approved normal activity.

After experiencing anesthetic, your pet may feel nauseous. For this reason, we recommend offering 1/3-1/2 of your pet’s regular evening meal to ensure he does not make himself ill. If your pet does not want to eat by the next day, please call your veterinarian.

Medications
Depending on which procedure your pet had performed, you may have been sent home with one too many medications. Ensure to ALWAYS give the medicines according to the label. If you are ever unsure about how to provide the medication, check with your veterinarian!

Just like with human medications, any drug we give an animal has the potential for side effects. If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your pets, give your veterinarian a call.

Incision Care
If your pet has an incision, it is critical that they are not able to chew, lick or scratch at it. Opening up an incision can spell disaster for your pet – not only does it need to fixed/re-sutured, but an open incision also puts your pet at risk of infection. To protect the incision, we recommend your pet wears an Elizabethan collar (AKA the “cone of shame”). If the area is somewhere that they can still access even with a cone, you could try having your pet wear a fashionable t-shirt or shorts to protect the incision.

Depending on the procedure, sutures may or may not need to be removed. Your vet office will inform you if the sutures require removal and at what time they can be removed.

Signs to Watch For
For the first few days post-op, monitor your pet for:

  • changes in breathing (rate or effort)
  • redness, swelling or discharge from the incision
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • straining to urinate or defecate
  • lethargy
  • unwilling to eat or drink
  • pain (whining, reluctant to be touched etc.)
  • sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge

If any of the above signs are noted, contact your veterinarian right away. Some signs may just be reactions to medications, while other times it can mean something more serious. It is always better to be over cautious!

Know your Options!
If your primary care veterinarian is unavailable or closed, know where else to go for help! Most cities have 24/7 care facilities, or some clinics have an emergency line in smaller communities. Here in Edmonton, the two 24/7 emergency clinics are Guardian Veterinary Centre (780-436-5880) and VetEmerg (780-423-9111).

Every pet and procedure is different – the above is a basic guideline for some of the basics of post-op care. Your veterinarian’s recommendations may vary. If you ever have any questions regarding your pet’s post-operative care, please contact your veterinary office.

Written By: Jessica Sirovyak, RAHT

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My Dental Cleaning by Carrots the Clinic Cat

I recently had my check-up with Dr. B, and he mentioned that I have a lot of tartar on my teeth and something called a resorptive lesion. I had been noticing that my mouth wasn’t feeling so clean, and it did hurt when I ate my kibble. Dr. B recommended that I have my teeth cleaned, and they would remove the bad teeth at the same time so that I wouldn’t be in any more pain. I was pretty nervous as it was my first time, but I see the staff here do it almost every day, so I figured I could be brave for one day. I asked the Techs to take pictures during my dental so that I could show you all that happens, and hopefully, you wouldn’t be so nervous if you need a Dental too! The first part was the worst part. The girls forgot to give me dinner the night before my procedure and then they didn’t give me breakfast either! I tried to explain to them, but they said it wasn’t safe to eat before you go under anesthetic. My stomach was saying otherwise, but the girls wanted to make sure my dental cleaning was as safe as possible. This is why they did blood work on me a couple of days before my procedure, as well. They started by giving me an injection in my hind leg to make me feel a bit sleepy, and it also offers some pain control. They let me relax for a little bit in a kennel before they brought me out to the dental table. My front leg was shaved, and a catheter was put into my vein. The clippers tickled, and the catheter poke wasn’t too bad, but then they put a whole bunch of tape on my leg to keep it in place. The tape was the worst part because I knew they’d be ripping it off later! The tech then checked my vitals to make sure everything was good. She then told me I was going to feel sleepy. She gave me an injection through the catheter in my front leg. Boy was she right, sleepy I got! I tried to keep my eyes open, but they just kept getting heavier and heavier. Now what happened next is a bit foggy, but I went into a nice deep sleep. During my sleep, the tech placed an endotracheal tube into my trachea (orange tube in the photo). This was to ensure I could breathe the entire time and so that water and debris couldn’t go into my lungs. The tube is hooked up to oxygen and a gas anesthetic to make sure I stay asleep for the entire procedure, as well. She also put gauze in the back of my throat for extra protection. She then cleaned my teeth with an ultrasonic scaler. It makes a high pitched noise, so I was glad I was under so I couldn’t hear it. My teeth were cleaned above and below the gum line. Apparently, tartar can build up down there too. The tech told me it’s similar to when she goes to the dentist, but she’s allowed to stay awake since she doesn’t bite the dental hygienist. I’m sure there are some humans that do bite, though! Then the tech looked closely at all my teeth and wrote down anything important on my chart. She also put a probe down between my gums and each tooth to ensure there aren’t any large pockets that could cause me issues. Big pockets are great spots for bacteria and tartar to hide, and I sure don’t want any of those anymore. Luckily I didn’t have any fractured or broken teeth and no big pockets. They did find two teeth that were resorptive lesions. These were the culprits causing me some discomfort, so they had to be extracted. Dr. B asked the girls to x-ray these teeth to see how much damage there was underneath the gum line so that he would know how to remove them. We recently upgraded to digital dental x-rays, and I was lucky to be one of the first to test it out. You can see in the photo my x-ray on the laptop. The roots of those teeth were all eaten away, so Dr. B did a crown amputation. He told me that it means just the top of the tooth that you can see is removed as almost all of the tooth below the gums were gone. He then sutured the extraction sites closed so that they would heal well and to prevent food and debris (from me grooming myself) from going inside and causing an infection. Once Dr. B was done, the tech double-checked that everything was nice and clean. She then polished my teeth with a minty paste. She didn’t let me pick my flavour of polish, but we don’t have fish flavoured anyways. She then put on fluoride that had to sit on my teeth for a bit and then it was all wiped off. The tech made sure that she wiped off all of the fluoride as it isn’t safe for me to swallow when I woke up. This is why pets have special toothpaste, and we can’t share with you humans. Once all the fluoride was wiped off my teeth, the tech made sure the gauze was out of my throat, and everything looked good. It was now time for me to wake up. They turn off the anesthetic gas so that I am just breathing oxygen, and I slowly came around. They don’t take out the endotracheal tube until I am awake enough to breathe on my own safely. This was when I started to remember again what happened. I woke up with a minty fresh mouth, but I was very confused. The girls tried to assure me that everything went well and that I was safe in their arms, but I was too confused. So, of course, I tried to wiggle about and figure things out for myself. Don’t they know I’m an independent cat? The tech held me safe until I was a little more with it even with my protest. I have to admit I was feeling the drugs for quite a while. They made sure I could walk and jump well before I was allowed to free roam the clinic again that night. They also made me a bunch of nice cozy beds on the floor around the clinic so that I wouldn’t have to jump up on anything, which was good because I was still feeling a bit off all night. For the next couple of days, the girls gave me a pain medication, which I hate to admit was delicious. I pretended that I was upset getting it, but boy was it chicken flavoured delight, and I made sure to lick every last drop off of my lips. Hopefully, by knowing what the process is, it will help you feel a bit less nervous about your dental cleaning, and if your humans have any questions about Dental cleanings or preventative measures, the staff here are always willing to discuss them.

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