Surgery: Soft Tissue and Orthopedic

Much as is the case for humans, pets can suffer from illnesses or injuries that require intensive treatment procedures. Of course, every effort is made to resolve illness or injury with effective, non-invasive procedures where this is possible and practical. However, there are some instances where surgery is simply the best, or only, option. This is especially true of certain breeds of pets that tend to be more prone to certain diseases or conditions. If your veterinarian determines that this is the case for your pet, he will recommend soft tissue or orthopedic surgery.

Soft Tissue Surgery

Where a pet’s illness or injury involves their internal organs, skin or muscle, soft tissue surgery is appropriate. Your veterinarian will recommend soft tissue surgery if your pet has an obstructive intestinal foreign body, a blocked airway, skin damage from a burn, tumors or cancer. Some pets develop non-cancerous fatty masses as they age, and while these masses usually don’t present any sort of health hazard to the pet, they can be uncomfortable. Soft tissue surgery can be used to remove them and provide them with relief.

Orthopedic Surgery

Where a pet’s illness or injury involves their musculoskeletal system, orthopedic surgery is appropriate. Your veterinarian will recommend orthopedic surgery if your pet has a bone fracture, torn ligament, or degenerate condition like osteoarthritis. While many soft tissue surgeries may not require follow-up visits, most orthopedic surgeries do require follow-up visits in order to monitor recovery and ensure the pet is improving as desired.

What to Expect Before and After Surgery

When you make an appointment for your pet to receive surgery, you will receive special instructions about how to care for your pet prior to their surgery. These instructions will likely include withholding food and water from your pet for the 12-14 hours immediately prior to surgery.

When you drop your pet off for their surgery, it is important to get answers to any and all questions you may have. You veterinarian welcomes these questions, as it is yet another opportunity to help you better understand your pet’s health and care.

Depending upon the type and extent of surgery your pet has received, your pet may need to spend some time in the hospital during recovery, or they may be able to go home shortly after surgery. When you arrive to pick up your pet, or when your veterinarian’s office calls you after your pet’s surgery in the case that they are staying in the hospital for awhile longer, they will inform you about how the surgery went, what the result was, and what further care and treatment is necessary. It is important to understand your veterinarian’s instructions, so ask for further clarification if necessary. Whatever your pet’s specific situation, there are some basics to keep in mind:

  • Your pet will need a lot of rest to recover well and fully. Most pets are somewhat groggy for 12-24 hours post-surgery as the anesthesia completely wears off. This is normal, and it will help your pet to rest well immediately following surgery. After this period, your pet may feel rejuvenated and want to return to their normal activities, but it is best if you can minimize their activity level for several days–or even a week, depending on your veterinarian’s advice–following surgery.
  • Your pet will have difficulty getting comfortable. As you can imagine, your pet may experience some discomfort following their surgery. Your veterinarian can prescribe some pain medication to assist with any severe discomfort, but you can also help by providing them with soft blankets or bedding to rest on.
  • Your pet will need a lot of attention and love. Pets are often stressed after surgery, so if you spend lots of time giving them attention and love they are more likely to feel calm and comfortable, and therefore heal more quickly.
  • Your pet must take any prescribed antibiotics. You may decide not to administer pain medication if your pet seems to be comfortable and pain-free, but you absolutely must administer any antibiotics your veterinarian prescribes. These will help to kill or prevent infection, and are therefore essential to protecting your pet’s good health. If you have trouble administering antibiotics to your pet, ask your veterinarian for advice and pointers.
  • You need to monitor your pet and the incision site. Make sure your pet seems to be in good spirits, and contact your veterinarian immediately if they seem extremely uncomfortable or the incision site is oozing, foul-smelling, red, irritated or otherwise not healing well.

For more information about surgery, contact us today.