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Surgery doesn’t have to be scary! These days, surgical procedures for pets are safer than ever before. If your four-legged love needs to “go under the knife,” there’s plenty you can do to help make sure he heals once your vet has stitched him up. In March’s Health Tip, you’ll learn how to prepare your pet for a surgical procedure, what to expect the day of and advice for at-home care.
Did you know?
Just like our own doctors often prescribe physical therapy after a procedure, our pets can benefit from rehab, too! Depending on the reason for surgery, and the type of procedure performed, your veterinarian may recommend anything from laser therapy to massage to help your pet get back on his paws. Each session is tailored to fit the needs of the individual patient, but you can expect to see one or more of the following activities:
- Exercises – this includes passive range of motion exercises to stretch muscles, active exercises like walking on an underwater treadmill to strengthen muscles, and proprioceptive exercises like stepping over or around a gate to help a pet relearn “where their feet are.”
- Hot and Cold Therapy – both decrease inflammation and pain, but the key is in their timing. Cold therapy is most useful in the first 72 hours after the injury or surgery. After this time, heat is most beneficial in reducing inflammation and easing pain.
- Class IV Laser – also known as cold laser or low-level light laser therapy, this procedure uses a laser to stimulate healing and address inflammation at the cellular level. Cold lasers are used to encourage wound healing (including surgical incisions) and decrease post-operative pain.
- Massage – a good rub down does wonders to improve circulation and decrease muscle spasms and pain.
- Acupuncture - acupuncture points correspond to places on the body where small bundles of nerves run close to the skin. The acupuncturist stimulates the point by inserting a small needle, activating neurotransmitters in the spinal cord and brainstem to inhibit the transmission of pain. Acupuncture also contributes to the health of the immune system by increasing infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies, and stimulates the release of hormones like endorphins to control pain.
Besides being the resident clown and cuddler at home, Oakly has another very important job as a diabetic alert dog to her pet parent. When at two-and-a-half years old, Oakly was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis, Oakly’s vet recommended twice-weekly sessions of laser treatment, acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments. When Oakly’s hips worsened, her doc decided total hip replacement surgery was the way to go. With a little help from Petplan, Oakly had her surgery and is on the mend. The best part is, her pet parent didn’t have to worry about affording the rehab treatments, hip replacement surgery and daily hydrotherapy her doctor ordered – which totaled $10,800!
Want to learn more about holistic and alternative therapies for pets? Read Dr. Kim Smyth’s series, Making Pets Whole, on our Vets for Pets blog.
Download your March health tip today!
Remember to bookmark this site and check back for next month’s tip, or ask for a copy at your vet’s office! Here’s to a month of good health for you and your furry friends.