incision instruction

After a surgical procedure, four-legged friends often need plenty of TLC. Although cuddles and kisses will certainly go a long way, the primary way to ensure your pet’s recuperation is comfortable and safe is by caring for his surgical incision. Most incisions will heal within seven to 14 days after surgery, but they do need a little extra attention.

Know what’s normal: Some bruising around the incision is normal, as is mild clear or pinkish discharge from the incision for the first 24 hours. If new or extensive bruising emerges, if drainage continues, or if discharge is bright red, yellow or foul-smelling, call your veterinarian immediately.

Keep the incision clean and dry: If it gets dirty, clean it gently with saline and pat it dry.

Observe the incision twice a day for swelling, redness, heat and odor: Check for loose or missing sutures.

Outlaw licking: Do not allow your pet to lick the incision. It could lead to infection, and your pet may take the opportunity to remove his stitches before they are ready. You may choose to keep the incision lightly bandaged, if possible.

If a bandage won’t stay put, as might be the case with spay and neuter incisions, your pet may need the dreaded “cone of shame.” Elizabethan or E-collars are rigid, lamp shade-like plastic collars that fit around your pet’s neck and physically prevent them from reaching their incisions so they can’t lick or chew at them. They do require a slight learning curve, but most pets adjust to wearing them quickly. Inflatable donut collars or soft cones made of cloth are alternatives for pets who can’t or won’t tolerate an E-collar.