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Post-operative discussion 

Dr. Lynch will call you once your pet is awake in recovery, to review: 

  • Your pet’s surgical findings 

  • Your pet’s primary goals for the first two weeks 

  • Common stressors during the first two weeks 

 

Surgical Findings: Dr. Lynch will confirm your pet’s diagnosis and inform you of any additional findings at the time of surgery, such as the presence or absence of a meniscal tear in a pet with a CCL injury.  

 

Primary Goals for the First Two Weeks: These are the “big ticket items” that will impact your pet’s outcome. 

  • The incision(s): Your pet must wear their protective cone and you must diligently monitor the incision to ensure that there is no redness or irritation. See the later section specifically about your pet’s incision for more detail. 

  • Early, safe and assisted weight bearing: It is very important to use a sling or harness to help your pet to a standing position following their surgery. This should begin 2-3 days after surgery and be performed as reasonably frequently as you can (I.e. during the waking day, when you are at home). See the later section about early weight bearing for more detail. 

 

Important: Common Stressors During the First Two Weeks: These are not things that will impact your pet’s outcome, but they will stress you out unless you are aware of them.  

  • Your pet will have a hangover during their first night: Similar to those kids after having their wisdom teeth removed, the purple elephants are out and about with your pet the evening following their surgery. They can exhibit some odd behavior during this time, such as darting eyes, acting unsettled, and vocalizing (barking, howling, whining). Their tendency to vocalize is the most critical thing to be aware of, because you will think that this is a comfort/pain related response. It is your pet with a hangover from their anesthesia and is not something to be concerned about their comfort over. Dr. Lynch advises that you plan to give your pet their trazodone and gabapentin (if prescribed) at their prescribed dose about 30 minutes after you get home from picking your pet up from the hospital to help smooth the evening over. These medications may be given with a small amount of peanut butter or equivalent, because they are very unlikely to upset your pet's stomach.  

  • The bandaid: Many times, Dr. Lynch will place a sticky bandage (see picture) over your pet's incision to protect it from the hospital environment. This usually falls off in the first couple days but may stay on for up to a week. If this sticky bandage is still present one week after surgery, or if it gets dirty/soiled, then you should remove it. Getting the edges wet before removal to help release the adhesive. 

  • The nerve block: Once your pet is under anesthesia, and prior to surgery, Dr. Lynch performs a nerve block using a special type of stimulating needle that locates the nerves which receives sensation from your pet's limb. This provides excellent pain control but can give your pet a bit of a numb foot for a few days. You may see your pet bearing weight on the top side of their paw (see picture), with the toes curled under, which is nothing to be concerned by as it generally wears off in a few days (long before your pet is walking without your direct supervision and assistance). 

  • The bruising: Sometimes it’s very little, sometimes it can be quite a lot, but there is always some degree of bruising (see picture). Don’t let it alarm you too much, just send a photo to Dr. Lynch and his nurse through the Contact Us page if you have any concerns.  

  • The swelling: Post-operative swelling is extremely common, and for procedures around your pet’s knee it tends to settle down by their ankle/hock joint (see picture). One aspect that is a bit odd with this swelling is that it tends to show up about 3-4 days after surgery (i.e., not immediately). Again, don’t let it alarm you too much, just send a photo to Dr. Lynch and his nurse through the Contact Us page if you have any concerns. 

  • Urination: Your pet will likely urinate less frequently post-surgery, simply because they are drinking less. It is also common for them to passively leak urine while they are laying in their recovery zone, especially with female dogs. Importantly, there is no aspect of surgery or anesthesia that impairs your pet’s ability to urinate, so please make sure that water is always available and accessible. It is suggested to have an elevated feeding/water station so that your pet can access the food/water with their cone on. It is strongly recommended to not take your pet outside to go to the bathroom more than three times a day during the first two weeks of recovery, as this will fatigue them and lead to frustration for you both.  

  • Bowel movements: Your pet may not have a bowel movement for several days after surgery. This is common and is associated with the anesthetic they had and other medications. If you feel that you want to help them have a bowel movement sooner, then they may have some more fiber in their diet in the form of canned, unsweetened, pumpkin (1 teaspoon per 10 pounds to start, with each meal). This may start when they get home. Do not overdo this (you don’t want loose stool). 

  • Appetite: It might take a day or so for your pet's appetite to return – This is common and you can try to entice them with any food that they would normally tolerate (that wouldn’t upset their stomach). Contact your veterinarian if you feel your pet is nauseous or has any regurgitation/vomiting

  • Medication: Medication can be stressful – If your pet is not eating, then do not force them to take pills and contact your veterinarian. They are still recovering from anesthesia and may act differently than they normally would, so never put yourself at risk for getting injured if your pet is not taking their medication willingly. 

Contact your veterinarian if you have questions/concerns about any of these

knuckle over example.HEIC
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