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Post Operative Care for yor Dog

Mar 3, 2008
The care of post-operation cases will depend to a large extent on the nature and severity of the operation, and whether surgical measures have been carried out as the culmination of a long, serious illness or in an animal whose general condition is excellent. Constitutional disturbance is either absent or very slight where a minor operation is performed (i.e., to correct inverted eyelids) but may be very great in a serious abdominal condition.

If the animal needs much in the way of skilled attention ,difficult dressings, stimulants, and so on,he will probably be kept at the veterinary hospital or clinic as long as these are required. Similarly, if the dog's post-operative condition is such that removal would be dangerous he will be kept until it is safe for him to return to his owner.

Dogs, particularly pet dogs, usually recover more quickly at home, and veterinary surgeons for this reason try to return an animal as speedily as possible. The anxious amateur nurse may have the dog's care on her hands sooner than she imagined!

If feasible, she should try to find out at the hospital whether the dog has to be kept as much at rest as possible, and what his general condition is. Dogs, unlike human patients, are not confined to bed as a rule after an operation unless they are so weak or shocked that rest and quiet are essential, in which case they will be kept in the hospital.

Movement within reason is beneficial, and recent research has shown that human patients, too, are often better if exercise is encouraged from the start. The bedding for a post-operative case should be freshly laundered a light-coloured or white blanket is useful.

Diet in post-operation cases.
Diet should be light and confined to fluids for a few days, and glucose should be added to all drinks. There is always loss of blood with which to contend; shock may still be present in a mild degree and fluid mixed with glucose will do much to remedy this. The return to normal diet should be gradual by way of such light, easily digested fare as baked custards, white fish boiled in milk, brown bread and milk, lightly boiled eggs, etc. Virol is excellent for convalescent patients, whether medical or surgical.

When solid diet is permitted this should be especially nourishing, for instance, four meals a day; breakfast of cereal and milk; for mid-day feed, a generous allowance of raw meat or boiled rabbit plus whole meal and halibut oil; for tea, an egg beaten up in milk, and for the evening meal, raw meat or fish. These body building foods (or proteins, as we call them),meat, fish, milk and eggs are needed to replace the protein being used by the body to repair the injured tissues. In much the same way the nursing and expectant bitch is fed liberally with these protein foods to help her to replace her own "body builders" which are being used for the growth and nourishment of her puppies.

Dressing the Wound
As the wound will normally be aseptic the original dressing should not need renewal unless the veterinary surgeon particularly wishes it. There is, however, sometimes discharge from the wound and these cases will, of course, need to be dressed, although usually gentle removal of the discharge with clean cotton wool and warm boiled water is all that is required.

When dressing an operation wound everything used to touch it should be sterilized (i.e., rendered free from bacteria) by boiling beforehand. Cotton wool, broken up into small swabs, should be boiled in a scrupulously clean covered saucepan and the water used for this when cooled, will be useful for removing any discharge. Remember that the water will stay sterile only if the lid is firmly on. A piece of lint sufficiently large to cover the wound should be cut from a packet of sterilized lint (this is obtainable from the chemist), using scissors which have been boiled. If an antibiotic powder or any other dressing is to be applied, have this in a screw-topped jar or sealed container kept tightly covered except when actually in use, and boil the teaspoon used for applying the powder.

It is advisable to use forceps, also sterilized, to handle the cotton wool swabs used for wiping away the discharge, but in any case the hands should be thoroughly scrubbed with plenty of soap and water. Have everything ready on a tray beforehand,the covered saucepan with the cotton wool swabs in the warm boiled water, the scissors, the piece of lint (which should be left covered up in its packet until the last moment), the spoon and powder (if this is ordered), bandages and/or surgical coat and a receptacle for the soiled dressings. Have the scissors, forceps and spoon in the saucepan in which they have been sterilized immersed in the boiled water until you need to use them; if left uncovered they will quickly become contaminated by germs in the atmosphere.

If the soiled dressing adheres to the wound it must never be pulled off; a little of the warm boiled water should be trickled between the dressing and wound until the dressing can be gently removed. Never touch the wound with your fingers if you can avoid doing so, and preferably use forceps for handling the wool to wipe away the discharge. Be careful to wipe the latter away from the wound and not across it. Do not have the cotton wool any wetter than necessary.

Occasionally it may be necessary for the veterinary surgeon to remove a suture (stitch) to allow drainage, and if the wound appears very red and swollen in one part, with no discharge, he should be informed.

The sutures are removed about a week after the operation and it is a wise precaution to take the temperature daily for about five days. Any rise to 102.5 F. and over should be reported. The animal should wear a surgical coat until healing is complete and dressings may have to be continued for some days after the removal of the sutures. Most post-operation cases need plenty of rest and quiet; even if the dog seems to be little affected, any surgical interference is a shock to the system and the animal needs a peaceful convalescence.

How To Make Surgical Coats
Surgical coats, used for protecting wounds (particularly abdominal) after operations, should be made from clean, strong white material (old sheeting is usually very suitable). Four holes should be made for the legs, the material drawn up and fastened along the back and round the neck, and shaped where necessary over the thighs. Perfect fitting is not necessary provided the coat prevents the dog from licking at his wound or worrying at the bandages. He should be able to move comfortably. When shaping, be careful with the scissors as it is easy to cut off too much material.

Here and there a few stitches can be inserted to keep the coat tidy and it should be fastened by tapes (never safety pins) along the back. At least three coats should be made to allow for accidental soiling and regular laundering.
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