Meet Dill, he’s my one-year-old Terrier mix. He loves to run, play, chew on things he’s not supposed to, and break into the neighbour’s yard. When he’s not busy digging up holes in the back yard or cuddling up beside me, he likes to play with his reflection in the mirror. He’s basically the best puppy I have ever seen at – well, being a puppy!
Lately his mood changed, but I can’t say I don’t know why. We recently decided to become a “nut-free zone,” that’s right: my Dill was neutered.
Now, I couldn’t help but feel awful, because what once was a bouncing and playful, tail-wagging puppy going into the animal hospital, came home looking dazed, uncomfortable, and now able to transmit and receive information through radio waves with the dish around his neck.
I didn’t know what to do at first. I just kept looking at him as he lay there. I couldn’t help but think he was probably so confused as to why he felt so strange and why he looked like a triceratops. His tail wasn’t even wagging – totally out of character, so I knew he was in discomfort.
I wanted to make his healing process as comfortable and as quick as possible.
Here are six things I learned while caring for a dog who had just crossed over into the “nut-free zone.”
1. Let him rest.
Make sure he has a comfortable and quiet spot indoors to lie down in, as he will need optimal rest following the surgery.
- Keep other household animals and children away from him so he is disturbed as little as possible, especially the first day – keep him indoors.
- Make sure to check on him once every hour to ensure he is not throwing up excessively, otherwise just let him rest.
2. Let the anesthesia wear off before feeding him.
Don’t feed him until he has regained his composure, but make sure to keep water readily available at all times. He will most likely only eat a small amount, if any at all, because he will be nauseated following the surgery. Feed him only half of what he usually eats for his first meal after the surgery.
- If your dog still isn’t interested in eating after 48 hours, call your vet.
3. Keep an eye out for signs of danger.
If he is still in a state of lethargy, has decreased appetite, and vomiting or diarrhea persists for more than a day, make sure to call your vet.
- Following the surgery, you don’t need to be concerned about these symptoms unless you think it is extreme.
4. Get him an E-collar.
Sure, they look funny – but they work! An E-collar refers to an Elizabethan collar, because he will look like he just walked out of the European mid-1500s. They are also referred as a buster collar, pet cone, pet-lamp-shade, or a cone of shame – whatever you want to call it, it serves one purpose: to prevent your dog from being able to lick or chew the area of his surgery.
- Put the collar on as soon as he gets home.
- Do not take the collar off too early. As his stitches start to heal, it will get very itchy and he will want to chew the incision more vigorously. Keep the collar on until the skin where the incision is becomes fully healed.
5. Check on the incision twice a day.
Look for any swelling and redness or discharge around the incision. Little signs of swelling and redness is normal for a few days, but if there is any swelling or sustained discharge that increases in size, call the vet.
- Clean the area of incision with a cotton ball dipped in salt water or boiled water if you notice it has gotten dirty.
6. Minimize activity for a week.
The healing process requires plenty of rest, so it’s important to allow him to get plenty. You can take him on short walks on a leash, but away from other animals. Even in a park or fenced yard, do not let him off the leash.
- Do not allow him to jump or run for a few weeks. Make sure he is fully healed before allowing him to return to his usual activities.
- You can allow him out in the yard after a couple of weeks, but be sure he has fully healed before removing his leash.
- Follow the vet’s specific recommendations to when he can be fully active again.
It’s been almost a week and a half now, and Dill’s healing process is coming along beautifully. His incision is healing quite nicely and he is starting to become more and more the Dill he was before entering the “nut-free zone.”
I am pretty sure he will be back in full force soon enough – “nut-free,” and ready to be enjoyed by all! Well, except maybe my neighbour.