AFTERCARE FOR ORTHOPEDIC SURGERY PATIENTS

APPLICATION OF PLATE & SCREWS OR PINS TO LIMB BONES FOR FRACTURE REPAIR

POST ANAESTHETIC CARE

Your pet may be "groggy" during the anaesthetic recovery for up to 48 hours. Confine the animal until fully conscious to prevent misadventure.

Occasionally animals vomit after an anaesthetic so we advise only a small drink of water be given until your pet can walk properly. Because the anaesthetic gas is administered via a tube in the windpipe some animals cough a little for a few days post-operatively.

Minor discomfort is indicated by licking at the stitches. Pain on touching the incision site is to be expected.

We recommend that the animal spends the night after the surgery in the clinic so that we can manage these issues with our trained staff and provide adequate pain relief.

MEDICATION

Your dog will receive antibiotic injections prior to and during surgery and may require a course of antibiotic tablets to be completed at home to prevent infection at the surgical site. Often pain relief tablets, or syrup are also prescribed for home use.

HOW MUCH EXERCISE?

Initially your pet will be reluctant to move much. A short (no more than 5 minutes) walk on a lead 3-4 times a day for going to the toilet is fine. In between times your pet must be confined to a small area (an old playpen is a good option for small dogs or a laundry or bathroom for large dogs) where he/she isn’t able to jump onto beds or sofas. If your dog usually stays outdoors he/she should be safely confined to a pen about the size of an average laundry or tied up on a 2 metre or shorter chain.

A small amount of physiotherapy is recommended if tolerated by your pet. Gently move the knee and ankle joints to flex and extend the joint for about 10 repetitions twice a day, just to the degree of bend your pet will comfortably tolerate.

If applied to the suture site, the post op dressing may be removed after 4-5 days if not peeling off prior to this. The Duogesic (fentanyl) pain control patch and bandage, if applied, can also be removed after 4-5days. If this is being removed at home, ensure the patch is wrapped in newspaper and disposed of in a bin out of reach of children & pets. Skin sutures are removed 10-14 days after surgery. There is usually no extra charge for this consultation unless further treatment or medications are required, although we like to discuss any issues and check the surgery site so please book an appointment with the vet who performed the surgery.

The recovery period requires a full 8-12 weeks of strict confinement to allow the bone healing to progress without any loosening of the implants. Dogs should be confined to a laundry sized (or smaller) pen for this whole time with short (<5min) walks on a lead to toilet the dog if required. Radiographs (xrays) are often taken under general anaesthetic or sedation after 6-10 weeks to assess bone healing at the surgery site, prior to allowing the patient to return to more normal activity. Once radiographs confirm healing, the amount of exercise can now be slowly and steadily increased to 10 minutes walking at a slow, steady pace a couple of times a day. As the patient feels more comfortable you can continue building up the exercise but it should always be on the lead for the first month following the second lot of radiographs. Swimming gently or wading chest deep in still water can be a good activity for restoring movement if weather and pet agreeable.

Sunburn can be a problem on the leg that has had surgery (the hair has been shaved off), especially in Summer and with dogs that spend most or all of their time outside.  Sunscreen formulated for animals can be purchased from the vets.