The hours, days, and weeks following your pet’s surgery are a critical healing and recovery time. What’s more, it can also be a stressful time for pet parents, who are on the one hand, relieved that the procedure is over, but who also have a vital role to play in their pet’s recovery process. 

After your dog or cat has undergone a surgical procedure, it is essential to care for their incision to prevent it from reopening, becoming infected, and healing improperly. Use this helpful resource to help guide in caring for your pet’s surgical incision for optimal healing, and be sure to contact our Fort Collins animal hospital with any questions or concerns, or to speak with your vet directly about your pet’s incision and post-operative care.

Five Tips for Caring for Your Pet’s Surgical Wound

Follow these handy tips and guidelines to help your furry best friend heal and recover efficiently from their surgery.

Follow Your Vet’s Post-Operative Instructions

Your veterinarian will provide you with post-operative care instructions that will help you care for your pet in the hours, days, and weeks following their procedure. The guidelines will cover everything from bathing and grooming to restricting their activity. Additionally, there will be instructions regarding pain management protocols for administering pain medications or applying topical medications, depending on the type of surgery they had.

Quick Tips:

  • Follow E-collar protocols accordingly
  • Limit or restrict their activity (running, jumping, etc.)
  • Avoid getting the incision wet
  • Note any unusual behavior that is a cause for concern
  • Talk to your vet right away about any concerns you may have

Learn How to Identify Potential Issues

Your post-surgery instructions should also list any potential issues that could occur as a result of their surgery. While it is common for bruising to occur in the hours and days after their surgery, and even a small amount of bleeding from a fresh incision, it’s important to be able to recognize what abnormal healing looks like.

Quick Tips:

  • Incisions that are healing properly should look clean and have a normal pinkish-red color.
  • Incisions that are healing improperly may:

    • Appear very swollen, red, and inflamed
    • Give off an unpleasant odor
    • Leak odorous discharge
    • Continually drip or ooze blood or a yellowish discharge
    • Bleed heavily

Check Their Incision At Least Twice Daily

It is essential to their recovery and overall health that you constantly check their incision at least twice a day for the first 7-10 days following their surgery. Immediately after their surgery, you should note the approximate length/size of the surgical wound, the number of stitches, and also check the appearance of the skin surrounding the incision. This will help you get a good idea of what it looks like to help you identify anything that looks abnormal during the healing process.

Restrict Your Pet’s Activity

While it is one of the most challenging aspects of their recovery, it is important to restrict your pet’s activity to ensure the wound does not reopen. Your veterinarian will give your specific guidelines according to the type of surgery they undergo, but generally, you will want to keep them from:

  • Jumping
  • Running
  • Playing rough
  • Jumping on furniture
  • Going up or down stairs
  • Hopping into a vehicle
  • Running off-leash

Keep Them From Licking the Incision

Finally, you will want to prevent them from licking their incision. The normal instinct for a dog or a cat is to lick or chew a wound to relieve the itch and to clean it; however, this could lead to them pulling their stitches out, which could reopen the incision, cause infection, or even lead to secondary injury. 

As sad as our pets look when they wear them, the E-Collar is designed to keep them from biting and licking their incision. That’s why it is essential to follow your veterinarian’s E-Collar instructions closely, keeping it on for the recommended length of time to prevent reopening or infection.  

Connect with Your Fort Collins Veterinarian

Here at Countryside Animal Hospital, we’re invested in your pet’s health, happiness, and well-being. We want to ensure that your furry companion makes a full recovery from their pet surgery, regardless of which type of procedure they have undergone. If your pet’s incision has reopened, or you think it may be infected or is healing improperly, we encourage you to call us and bring them into our Fort Collins animal hospital right away. Your veterinarian can determine the best course of action to remedy the situation to prevent pain, infection, and improper healing.