What to Expect
Due to anesthesia and pain medication, most dogs will not be themselves their first night home. Please be assured that everything possible has been done to relieve your pet from pain. Your pet’s eyes will look different due to an eye ointment administered at the time of surgery which prevents the eyes from drying out. Some dogs are very thirsty after surgery. Small amounts of water may be given every half hour. Occasionally, a patient will vomit. If this occurs, remove water, food and medication for one night. Since the surgery wound is fresh, some bleeding may occur. The dried blood makes a natural bandage and should be left alone. Cleaning the incision could cause it to bleed more. Some licking is ok because the sutures are under the skin. If your dog licks excessively, you can place a sock with the toes cut out up and over the dog’s knee. If the licking continues, an e-collar may become necessary. Most dogs will return to “normal” in 1-2 days.
During this period your dog may begin “toe touching.” This is where the foot extends to the ground in an attempt to bear weight. This varies from dog to dog and by the extent of the surgery. Some dogs will begin to walk at this stage. However, walking could take up to three weeks. Dark red/purple bruising and mild swelling at the incision is normal. SWELLING IN THE ANKLE IS ALSO NORMAL.
A few days following surgery, the ankle joint may become swollen. This is normal and it will disappear within a couple of days. Cold packing this area is not necessary. In some cases the Fentanyl Patch may cause vocalization and will need to be removed early.
Remove and dispose of the Fentanyl patch. Keep it away from children and other dogs. Removal of this potent pain patch may cause some dogs to temporarily become more lame. Under the bandage is a clear plastic sticker (the patch itself) that MUST BE PEELED OFF OF THE UNDERSIDE OF THE FOOT. Wash the area with warm water and mild detergent. Do not let your dog lick where the patch was placed.
At two-weeks, please make an appointment with your Veterinarian. By this point, most dogs are bearing weight the leg that was operated on.
Please make an appointment with your Veterinarian for a 2-month check-up. If all is well, your pet can gradually return to normal off-leash function. Swimming is excellent therapy at this time. Your pet should progress slowly into longer walks and then into runs. For some dogs, full recovery and return to normal activity can take up to six months. However, most dogs regain full function two to three months following surgery.