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Tips for Helping Dogs Recover from Knee or Hip Surgery

Aug 3, 2012

Dog care after surgery

Surgery is always a difficult time in anybody’s life, but especially so for our canine friends. We can’t exactly explain to them what is going on or what we’re doing or about to do, making the recovery process difficult for dog and dog owner alike.

After specific surgeries that target the hip and knee area, there are some important facts to consider when taking care of your recovering dog. It may take several weeks of rehabilitation time during which your dog’s ability to move around will be very limited. It is therefore up to you as your dog’s loving protector to ensure their safety and encourage a rapid recovery.

Making them comfortable

The most important thing to do is make your dog comfortable after a surgical experience. Smooth bedding that is fresh and clean is a good place to start. But what about eating and drinking? Knee and hip surgery can quickly eliminate the ability to freely move around, which tends to hinder a dog’s ability to go about their daily habits and schedule.

This can even frustrate a dog psychologically, which isn’t commonly considered. Dogs are habitual creatures and though you may not notice it because their movement is limited, that may not stop them from wanting to move around or worry about you finding that treat they’ve hidden under the bed.  Discuss anti-anxiety methods with your veterinarian to help keep them calm during their recovery process.

This also brings up the concern of having multiple pets within the house. Dogs love to interact, especially if their toys or treats may be in the paws of another family member. Throughout the recovery process, it is a good idea to keep them confined to their own space where they will feel safe and secure- along with their toys and treats. If they have a favorite ball, keep it with them and don’t let other pets play with it (including those of the feline persuasion).

Rebuilding their strength

Dogs love to be active, but be careful that they don’t overexert themselves. But, part of the recovery process will include some forms of physical therapy. In this case, it is important to listen to your vet and stick to a guided timeline for increasing your dog’s activity throughout the recovery process. As their body heals, they will be ready for more activity, but keep in mind that they will want to do more than the body allows, so keep things at a safe pace in a controlled area.

What the doctor ordered

A dog recovering from any type of surgery will often require a range of medications, such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications to help your dog cope. Some prescriptions may even include antibiotics to prevent infection.

In addition to medications, a healthy diet is incredibly important to their recovery. What they eat and the nutrients their body receives will make a large difference in their body’s ability to ward off infection, regenerate tissues such as the bonding of ligaments and muscle to the bone and cartilage.

Keep in mind that if your dog is taking antibiotics, it is commonly a good idea to provide probiotics in their regular diet to ensure proper digestion and health. Take the time to discuss probiotic choices with your vet to ensure they won’t interfere with any of your dog’s medications.

Senior dogs will often need more time to recover from these types of surgeries. Their body doesn’t quite heal as well or rapidly as it did in their youth. This is why diet is extremely important, since their body will be utilizing all its resources to repair any damaged tissues and fight foreign infections.

Caring for their wound

Your first task is to always keep the wound from getting infected. Keep the area freshly dressed and cared for according to your vet’s recommendations. If they prescribe antibiotic solutions to administer to the area, do so according to their precise directions.

Don’t let them lick the area. Despite the natural will of a dog to lick their wound, they shouldn’t have access because bacteria can easily invade a surgical wound and travel throughout the body where it will be far more difficult to isolate and eliminate. Many antibiotic solutions have bittering agents to prevent licking, but if your dog persists, you may need to utilize a cone to prevent access.

Helping your dog recover from surgery isn’t an easy process for you, but it can be even harder for your dog. As long as you are there for them and ensure their complete comfort and healthy treatment, they’ll be back on their paws in no time at all.

Keeping up with your pet supplies can be just another thing you don’t want to have to remember.  After a long day at work and going to the store, the last thing you want to do is have to go “to the store” again.  Consider home delivery of your pet supplies!

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