The appearance of your pet’s incision can be a source of stress, unless you know what to expect! Here are some very common “things” that you may see with your pet’s incision and what they may be caused by:
Bruising nearby, but remote from, the incision – At the time of surgery, your pet has their surgical site covered in sterile drapes, which are held in place by “towel clamps”. These sharp little things, on occasion, can hit a small blood vessel in the skin and lead to a pretty big bruise. Similar to other bruises, these resolve gradually over time.
Bruising all around the incision – Every incision will have some bruising and for many of our surgeries a long-lasting local anesthetic (numbing medication) is infused around your pet’s incision to make sure they are comfortable in the immediate period following surgery. This infusion of numbing medication is administered through several injections, which very commonly cause bruising all around the incision that lasts approximately one week.
Swelling of the limb below the incision – This is especially common following knee surgery, where there is a delayed swelling that shows up 2-3 days after surgery and appears to settle at their hock (ankle joint). This swelling appears to be very soft and “blubbery”, and it resolves after one week most often.
Red colored discharge from the incision – Despite this having the appearance of blood, it rarely is. This thin, red-tinged, fluid is “inflammatory fluid” that the body produces after surgery, and it can occasionally ooze from the incision in small volumes.
Important: It is ALWAYS advised to take photos (or videos) of your pet’s incision, or anything else that you have concerns with, and send these to your veterinarian.
Another common question that owners have is, “What do I need to do with my pet’s incision?” Overall, the body is exceptional at healing, but you can help it out by doing the following:
1. Keep the incision in a clean, dry and safe environment – This means that until your veterinarian tells you that your pet incision has fully healed, that the “cone of shame” should remain on, they should not get a bath and there shouldn’t anything that bumps into the incision. Our pets are very smart, and they have ALL day to figure out how to get out of their cone, or even use the cone or other objects to itch their incision, so keep your eyes peeled.
2. Cool compress, then warm compress – In the initial three days after returning home, your pet’s incision is in the acute inflammatory phase, so performing a cool compress two to three times daily for 10-15 minutes using an ice pack wrapped in a towel will be beneficial to help reduce developing inflammation. After the initial three days, you should perform a warm compress two to three times daily for 5 minutes using a clean wash-cloth wrung out with warm water to help bring blood flow to the site.
Important: Compresses are only beneficial if they are tolerated. Never force your pet to performing cool or warm compresses if they become resentful or combative.
Important: Never place an ice pack or other cold object directly on your pet’s skin surface without having a cloth/towel in-between. This can injure them.
Important: Sometimes your pet will have a “band-aid” placed during their stay in the hospital. One such band-aid may be a white adhesive type over your pet’s incision and, if still present the day after surgery, then this should be removed, gently, by getting the edges wet to help lift off the sticky adhesive. Another type of band-aid may be from your pet’s catheter and essentially looks like a bracelet/wrist wrap. This second type should be removed the night of surgery once you are back home if it is still present. If you have ANY questions, then please take a picture and send it to your primary veterinarian and Dr. Lynch through our portal.