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Hip Reduction Surgery in Dogs

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    What is Hip Reduction Surgery in Dogs?

    Hip Reduction is commonly used to treat hip dislocation in dogs. There are two types of reductions: closed and open. A closed hip reduction is the most common type and a more conservative treatment to physically manipulate the dislocated hip back into place. On the other hand, an open hip reduction is a surgical procedure that involves placing the joint of the hip back into its natural position. 

    What Does Hip Reduction Treat in Dogs?

    Photo Credit: Upstate Vet

    A Hip Reduction is typically used to treat hip dislocation in dogs, which is clinically referred to as coxofemoral luxation. Hip dislocation may be caused by a number of issues including hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, trauma, or even cancer. Hip dysplasia, in its genetic form or otherwise, is the most commonly observed reason behind hip dislocation and the need for a hip reduction in dogs.                                                                    

    What Happens During a Hip Reduction Surgery?

    Photo Credit: Clinician’s Brief

    The procedure for a hip reduction is dependent upon which type of approach is taken – closed or open. 

    Closed Hip Reduction

    In preparation for a closed hip reduction, the veterinarian will administer a short-acting anesthesia before physically manipulating the coxofemoral joint back into its proper place. The coxofemoral joint is defined as the “ball-and-socket” joint in which the “ball” is the head of the femur and the “socket” is the acetabulum of the pelvis. Following the manipulation, a sling, bandage, or wrap will be placed on your dog for at least two weeks. 

    Open Hip Reduction

    An open hip reduction surgery can be performed based on the preferences of the surgeon. For example, different approaches used for the procedure may include toggle rods, surgical anchors, and prosthetic joint capsules. The toggle rod approach is the most commonly performed. When this approach is used, the following steps are taken: 

    The veterinarian will begin by administering general anesthesia before cleaning and shaving the region to be operated on. Following this, an incision will be made near the hip muscles along the natural seams. The joint capsule will be opened, using a special drill a hole will be made in the acetabular wall, which is the back wall of the hip bone. Additionally, a “bone tunnel” will be drilled through a region of the femur referred to as the femoral neck. Utilizing heavy suture material, a toggle pin will be threaded through the hole and bone tunnel. The placement of the hip will be adjusted until it’s in the correct position. The heavy suture material will be tightened and attached to another toggle pin to secure on the other side of the joint. This allows for the joint to be securely held in place. Following this, the joint capsule and initial surgery site would be sutured and closed. Just like a closed hip reduction, a sling, wrap, or bandage is secured and your dog will wear it for up to fourteen days. 

    How Much Does a Hip Reduction Cost?

    The cost of a hip reduction in dogs varies based on many factors including whether a closed or open approach is taken, health factors of the dog, and the location of the clinic. The cost may range from $1,500 to $15,000, however, the average cost of the procedure is $2,500. 

    How Can Hip Reduction Surgery Be Prevented?

    Unfortunately, many conditions that lead to the need for a hip reduction cannot be prevented such as genetic hip dysplasia and cancer. However, automobile accidents are a common cause of hip dislocation as well so be sure to keep a close eye on your dog when outdoors. Avoid overfeeding and maintain a healthy weight in your dog to avoid hip dysplasia in large breed dogs. 

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    Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnoses and Treatment

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      What is a Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear in Dogs?

      Photo Credit: Good Vets

      The Cranial Cruciate Ligament, known as the CCL, is a connective tissue found in the knee of the dog that stabilizes the lower leg to the upper leg. The ligament connects the tibia, the bone beneath the knee, to the femur, the bone above. There are a number of CCL injuries that can occur in dogs. However, tears of the CCL are the most commonly observed.

      What Causes a Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear in Dogs?

      CCL tears most commonly occur when the excessive internal rotation of the tibia takes place when the joint is partially flexed. Typically this is a result of exercise or running. One of the most common occurrences is when the dog is running and suddenly changes direction. This places the majority of the dog’s body weight on the knee joint, and excessive rotational force is placed on the cruciate ligament. The injury leads to the knee joint becoming unstable. 

      Who's at Risk of Developing a Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear in Dogs?

      There are a number of factors that may contribute to a dog being at higher risk of developing a CCL injury: 

      Breed Type: Certain breeds are more prone to CCL injuries, including Labrador retrievers, Newfoundlands, German shepherds, rottweilers, and Golden retrievers. 

      Obesity: Overweight and obese dogs are four times more likely to tear or rupture their CCL than dogs at a healthy weight. Obesity can play a major role in CCL injuries. The extra weight causes additional strain on the dog’s joints and muscles, making the ligaments more prone to wear and tear. 

      Weekend Warriors: “Weekend warriors” are those dogs who don’t necessarily exercise on a regular basis, but partake in occasional strenuous exercise. 

      Previous Injury: Studies have shown that dogs who injure the CCL in one leg have a 50% greater chance of injuring the other side. This is because the dog will compensate and use the other leg more. More strain placed on the good side causes a risk of tearing or rupturing as well.

      What Are The Symptoms of a Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear?

      Oftentimes, symptoms of a CCL tear come on gradually and will progressively worsen over a long period of time. However, in some incidents, there may be no obvious symptoms until the ligament actually ruptures.

      Symptoms of CCL injuries in dogs include:

      • Lameness or limping 
      • Favoring one leg
      • Stiffness after exercise
      • Swelling around the knee
      • Difficulty lying down or getting up
      • Pain or tenderness near the injured knee

      How Can a Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear Be Prevented?

      There are a number of measures that can be taken to reduce a CCL tear from occurring in your dog: 

      • Maintain a healthy weight in your dog 
      • Provide proper warm-up for your dog before vigorous exercise 
      • Avoid “weekend warrior syndrome” – keep the amount of exercise your dog receives relatively consistent 
      • Provide the proper nutrients and vitamins needed to support joint health (ex. Omega-3 and healthy oils)

      How is a Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear Diagnosed?

      A physical examination is necessary to diagnose a CCL tear. During your dog’s exam, your veterinarian will assess the affected leg by holding the femur in place while moving the tibia out. If it moves in a manner that can be compared to opening a drawer, the CCL is injured. 

      In addition to the physical exam, your veterinarian or orthopedic surgeon will order x-rays to assess the severity of the CCL injury and if there is fluid present in the joint.

      What Is The Treatment For a Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear?

      Surgery is typically recommended for dogs with a CCL injury. However, this is on a case-by-case basis. Dogs weighing over 22 pounds usually require surgery in order to stabilize the knee. Smaller dogs weighing less than 22 pounds, may be able to heal without surgical intervention if severe restrictions are taken. 

      CCL surgery is very common and compared to that of an ACL surgery in a human. CCL repair surgery generally begins with an examination of the inside of the dog’s knee. When damaged or torn portions of the CCL are identified, they are removed during the procedure. There are a number of surgical methods that can be used to repair the injured CCL. There are four common surgical techniques executed to repair the CCL. These four techniques are Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization, TightRope Technique, Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, and Tibial Tuberosity Advancement. Your veterinarian will discuss the pros and cons of each CCL surgery option and guide you and your dog in the right direction.

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      Canine Total Hip Replacement Surgery

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        ​​What is Total Hip Replacement Surgery in Dogs?

        x ray of dog before and after total hip replacement
        Photo Credit: Animal Surgical and Orthopedic Center

        A total hip replacement (THR) in dogs is a surgical procedure that involves the replacement of a severely damaged or diseased hip joint with an artificial component. Total hip replacement is a surgical treatment for treating severe arthritis, hip dysplasia, fractures, and dislocations. THR is widely regarded as safe and effective, with a high likelihood of significantly increasing limb function and enhancing their quality of life.

        What Makes a Dog A Good Candidate For Total Hip Replacement Surgery?

        Dogs who are suffering from severe arthritis, hip dysplasia, fractures, and dislocations that cannot be resolved aside from THR and are in a measurable amount of pain are usually those that received a THR. Dogs need to be in overall good health as well as have no other joint or bone issues, nerve damage/disease, or other medical illnesses. Dogs who receive THR need to be skeletally mature and finished growing which is usually between 9-12 months old. X-rays will also reveal if the size of the bones can fit a prosthesis. THR surgery is usually done on dogs over 40 pounds.

        Are There Any Risks With Total Hip Replacement Surgery?

        husky recovering from total hip replacement surgery
        Photo Credit: UC Davis

        Any type of anesthetic or operation comes with its own set of hazards. These dangers will be discussed with you by your veterinarian or orthopedic surgeon. In dogs, the reported complication rate after total hip replacement is between 7% and 12%. It is crucial to identify and treat issues as soon as possible after a complete hip replacement. Swelling at the incision site (seroma) or a low-grade infection of the skin around the incision are examples of mild complications. However, there are three significant problems that might result in the hip replacement failing and requiring further surgery.

        Impact Infection

        As with any infection, an infection of the impact is something that should be taken very seriously. While skin or wound infections may be able to be controlled with antibiotics, infections of the actual implants require the implant being removed and replaced.

        Implant Loosening

        There’s a possibility of the implants losing due to either “aspect loosening” or low-grade infection. Aspect loosening is when the patient’s body rejects the implant and occurs in about 5-15% of cases. If aspect loosening occurs, the implant needs to be removed and/or replaced. 

        Luxation or Dislocation of the Implants

        Luxation or dislocation of the implants is fairly rare is occurs in only about 2-4% of patients and usually within the first 3 weeks post-surgery. If this happens, another surgery under anesthesia will be required to fix it.

        What Happens During Total Hip Replacement Surgery?

        Vets performing total hip replacement on a dog
        Photo Credit: Fitzpatrick Referrals

        THR surgery for severe arthritis, hip dysplasia, fractures, and dislocations surgery is a multi-day process. To prepare for general anesthesia, most dogs getting a complete hip replacement will have a comprehensive examination and a blood test profile. 

        Total hip replacement surgery takes two to three hours on average, and your dog may need to stay in the hospital for one to three days afterward. A 12-week recuperation time is expected. Even though your dog’s hip dysplasia affects both hips, surgery on one hip at a time is possible, providing 3 to 6 months of healing time in between procedures.

        During the actual surgery, the ball (head of the femur) and socket (acetabulum) are removed and replaced with prosthetic implants. The acetabular socket will be rebuilt and equipped with a polyethylene cup, while the stem and ball are constructed of cobalt-chromium. Bone cement may or may not be used to hold the implants in place, depending on the implant type chosen by the surgeon for your pet.

        Around 90% to 95% of dogs that receive a complete hip replacement perform really well and have outstanding function. Every operation has some risk, but your dog’s surgeon will do all in his power to avoid any complications. Hip dislocation, implant loosening, infection, and nerve injury are all rare problems that can typically be easily addressed.

        How Do You Care for a Dog Post-Total Hip Replacement Surgery?

        dog on a walk after total hip replacement surgery
        Photo Credit: A Veterinarian's Perspective

        When dogs are released from the hospital a few days after having total hip replacement surgery, it’s crucial to ensure proper healing. Stitches or staples will usually be removed in 10-14 days following surgery. Your veterinarian will also provide a pain management regimen which might include pain medication and crate rest or confined to a small area during recovery for about 3 months. While dogs are usually able to bear weight on the limb fairly soon after surgery, their activity must be closely monitored and activity limited to being on a leash when not in confinement to prevent over-exertion. Each veterinarian will provide their own post-op instructions and they should be followed as closely as possible for best results.

        How Much Does Total Hip Replacement Surgery Cost?

        Due to the involvement and difficulty of canine total hip replacement surgery, it comes out to being one of the most expensive veterinary surgeries. It comes out on average to being $3,500 to $7,000 per hip or if both hips need to be replaced (which is often the case), the cost runs on average $7,000 to $14,000. This is an instance when having pet insurance can offset the high cost.

        How Can Total Hip Replacement Surgery Be Prevented?

        Preventing total hip replacements comes with preventing the reason for needing the surgery. So essentially working to prevent hip dysplasia and severe arthritis. One way to stay on top of the causes that result in THR is having regularly scheduled vet appointments.

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        10 Ways to Keep Your Dog’s Brain Busy After Surgery

        Surgery in itself can be daunting, recovery is even worse. It can be quite a struggle to keep your dog’s activity restricted post-surgery, however, it’s crucial to their recovery.  Mental stimulation for dogs is so important and becomes even more rewarding during this post-surgery time. Mental stimulation will ward off your dog’s boredom blues and help with burning some energy as well. In fact, mental stimulation is just as rewarding as physical exercise. Below we’ve outlined 10 ways to keep your dog’s brain busy after surgery. These ways are sure to keep your dog from experiencing the post-recovery rut. 

        1. Cup Game

        The cup game is an easy and affordable way to provide enrichment for your dog. All you need is 3 cups and some treats. You can slowly build up to teaching your dog this game and making it more difficult. To introduce the concept, start with just one cup. Allow them to watch you place a treat under a cup. When you give your dog a cue to nose or knock over the cup, let them eat the treat. Once your dog understands this concept, move up to 3 cups and rub the treat on your hands and outside of cups to spread the scent around and increase the difficulty of the game, therefore providing further enrichment. 

        2. Puzzle Game

        Photo Credit: Outward Hound

        There are so many puzzle games available on the market for all difficulty levels. One of our favorite brands is Outward Hound. These games are a great way to decrease boredom and increase problem-solving skills. High-value treats are the best to use for these games to really encourage your dog to solve them. Once they get the hang of the game, move on to lower-value treats. 

        3. Muffin Tin Game

        Photo Credit: Cheerful Hound

        The muffin tin game is another simple DIY game. All you need is a muffin tin and treats. It’s as easy as placing some treats in a few of the holes and then covering all of the holes with tennis balls. Your dog must not only locate the treat but also learn how to remove the ball properly in order to reach the treat. Although it sounds simple, this game can provide hours of stimulation to your dog. 

        4. Long Lasting Chews

        Long-lasting chews are a great tool to keep your dog entertained while their activity is restricted. As long as they’re not recovering from a mouth or jaw surgery, durable chew toys and chews are sure to keep your dog busy for a while. Bully sticks are a great long lasting option. As far as edible treats go, limit the amount given so your dog does not gain excess weight while recovering. 

        5. Lick Mats

        Photo Credit: Lickimat

        Lick mats not only provide entertainment to your dog but may also reduce anxiety. The act of licking encourages your dog to calm themselves. You may fill them with peanut butter, yogurt, broth, frozen treats, etc. There are plenty of recipes to try! Additionally, the mats come in a variety of sizes and configurations so there’s an option for every dog. 

        6. Snuffle Mats

        Photo Credit: Insider

        Snuffle mats are great to put your dog’s nose to work. In these mats, between knots, treats are embedded requiring your dog to root for and locate the treats. Snuffle mats are available in stores or can even be made as an easy DIY project. Use higher value treats until your dog understands the concept. 

        7. Scent Training

        Photo Credit: AKC

        Scent training provides enrichment to your dog and is a lowkey activity you can teach your dog at home. A small tin with drilled holes, birch oil, treats, a plastic container, and cotton swabs are all you need to get started. 

        To begin, introduce your dog to identifying the birch scent. You’ll want to apply a bit of birch oil to the cotton swab and place in the tin. Hold the tin in one hand and a treat, preferably high value, in the other hand. Your dog will most likely initially be interested in the treat hand. Once he/she moves on to smell the tin hand, say “yes” and reward your pup by bringing the treat over to the tin hand. When you feed your dog at the source of the birch scent, they’ll begin to identify the scent properly. As you progress, switch hands to keep them on their toes. 

        Now that your dog understands the concept of identifying the scent, they can learn how to find it. Move the tin with the scent into the plastic container and repeat the same steps with identifying the scent in your hand. Once your dog masters this, move the container to the ground and repeat the process once again. Eventually, your dog will work their way up to locating the box in a hidden spot, even in a different room.

        8. Canine Massage

        Canine massage is not only relaxing, but also may boost your dog’s mood, especially post-surgery. However, be sure to discuss this with your veterinarian first. Typically, short sessions with gentle strokes or kneading are the most effective and safe way to massage your dog. 

        9. Rotate Toys

        It may sound simple, but it’s an effective way to prevent boredom while your dog is recovering from surgery. This will keep the toys more interesting and will feel like a new toy is introduced throughout their recovery. 

        10. Change The Scenery/Car Rides Or Environment Change

        A simple environmental change can make all the difference for your dog. If they’re safely able to ride in the car, take them for a bit of a drive or sit outside. This can provide some mental stimulation. However, if they are restricted to the inside of the house or a crate, consider changing the room they hang out in. 

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        Entropion in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

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          What is Entropion in Dogs?

          Photo Credit: VCA Hospitals

          Entropion is the inward curling of the eyelids. This causes irritation and discomfort because the hairy eyelid skin comes into close touch with the eye surface and eyelashes rub against the eye. Both eyes are usually afflicted in the majority of instances. It is most commonly detected in puppies under the age of one year. 

          What Causes Entropion in Dogs?

          There are two main causes of entropion:

          Primary Entropion

          Primary entropion is the genetic predisposition to develop the condition. This may either be a result of being a predisposed breed or having a hereditary history of entropion. Physical characteristics to consider that can cause entropion to include:

          • The shape of the skull
          • The shape of the bone cavity that contains the eyeball
          • Gender
          • Ample skin folds and wrinkles around the eyes
          • The length of the eyelid

          Acquired Entropion

          Acquired entropion is the result of trauma to the eye. Forms of trauma that can cause entropion in dogs include:

          • Eye injuries
          • Eyelid scarring 
          • Nerve damage
          • Systemic dermatological conditions

          Who’s at Risk of Developing Entropion?

          Entropion is a hereditary condition and is more likely to develop in certain breeds. The most typically afflicted dogs are those with large facial wrinkles and a “droopy eye” appearance. These breeds include English Bulldogs, Shar-Peis, Pugs, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Chow Chows, and Rottweilers. 

          What are the Symptoms of Entropion in Dogs?

          Most dogs who have entropion ​​will squint, close their eyes, and weep excessively (epiphora), while some may develop a mucoid discharge. Many flat-faced dogs with medial entropion (involvement of the corner of the eyes towards the nose) show no symptoms of pain. Here are all the symptoms of entropion in dogs:

          • Eye redness/conjunctivitis
          • Squinting
          • Apparent swelling around eyes
          • Excessive tearing
          • Eye discharge
          • Rubbing at eyes
          • Corneal ulcers
          • Excessive blinking/blepharospasms

          How is Entropion Diagnosed?

          It’s fairly easy to spot entropion but a thorough examination is required before going forward with any treatments. ​​A veterinarian would usually anesthetize the eye (since it is often painful) and stain the cornea to assess its integrity or ulceration. After general vets have identified and assessed the severity of the problem, ophthalmologists are frequently consulted, especially in severe cases.

          What is the Treatment for Entropion?

          Photo Credit: South Eastern Animal Hospital

          If entropion is present in dogs at a young age, vets may try something called “lid tacking”, which is a very minimally invasive procedure compared to surgery. A stitch is introduced above, below, or both the lids in this approach (depending on the number of lids impacted) in the hopes that the lids would develop in a “rolled out” fashion. In the long run, this method isn’t always effective

          The optimal entropion treatment depends on the severity of the condition, although entropion surgery is frequently required to correct the lid deformity. This form of plastic surgery (known as “blepharoplasty”) needs the precise excision of a crescent-shaped section of tissue above the injured lid to rotate the lid outwards. In some dogs, surgery is necessary, particularly in those who have been severely injured or in young, maturing pups whose lids may change in form as they age.

          For dogs with extensive skin folds over the eyes, “brow-raising” treatments, which need permanent implants, provide an alternative to entropion surgery. This approach isn’t commonly utilized, and its effectiveness is currently being researched.

          Can You Prevent Entropion?

          Entropion, unfortunately, cannot always be prevented due to the predisposition as a result of a dog’s physical traits which are a part of their breed.

          The only thing you can do is try to catch it as soon as possible so that the symptoms don’t get worse and the recovery proceeds as easily as possible.

          If your dog comes from a breed that is prone to entropion, you should pay special attention to his eye health. Keep them clean and take them to the vet for checks on a regular basis.

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          How to Care for a Dog’s Stitches After Surgery

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            When your dog has surgery, the aftercare can be quite stressful. With the majority of surgeries, your dog will be sent home with an incision that is closed with stitches, sutures, or staples. Following your dog’s procedure, your veterinarian will provide you with instructions to take home. Stitches in dogs can require extra care compared to humans as dogs don’t understand to leave their stitches alone and stay calm. However, there are some best standard practices to follow when it comes to caring for your dog stitches after surgery. 

            How Long Do Stitches in Dogs Take to Heal? 

            On average, a dog’s incisions with stitches take 10-14 days to heal. However, this timeframe is dependent upon a number of factors, including what type of surgery was performed, the suture material, suture absorption time, and your dog’s health and age. Within 10-14 days a dog’s incision should be able to withstand stretching and tension. Just because the incision may be healed, does not mean activity should resume as normal immediately. Incisions heal side-to-side, rather than lengthwise. No matter how long the incision is, all incisions heal at the same rate generally speaking. 

            black lab getting stitches at the vet

            How to Keep the Incision Site Clean & Prevent Infection

            Keep Stitches Dry

            It is critical for stitches and the incision site to be kept dry at all times, unless otherwise instructed by your veterinarian. This includes no bathing or swimming until the incision has healed. In addition, keep an eye out for rainy weather. If unable to avoid rain, cover your dog’s incision site properly to maintain dryness. No ointments or topical creams should be applied unless instructed otherwise. This includes alcohol and hydrogen peroxide as these chemicals can cause damage to the tissue. If your dog is in need of freshening up, you can wipe them down with dog-friendly wipes. However, be sure to steer clear of the area surrounding and the incision site itself.

            Prevent Licking/Biting

            Post-surgery, it’s absolutely critical to keep your dog from chewing, licking, and biting at their stitches and incision site. This can result in infection and opening up the site again. When your dog is unsupervised, be sure to keep a cone or e-collar on to prevent licking, biting, or irritating the incision site in any way. Cones are available in hard plastic or soft version). If your dog is struggling to get used to a standard cone, there are other options such as recovery jumpsuits they can wear and donut-style collars. In addition, be sure to schedule the surgery on a day where you or someone else can supervise your dog (to prevent licking/biting and monitor anesthesia recovery). 

            Prevent Scratching

            While a cone helps to prevent licking and biting, it’s not much help when it comes to scratching. Scratching can do serious damage so it’s critical to prevent. When the incision starts to heal and your dog’s fur starts growing back in, the surrounding area will start to feel itchy. If your dog’s incision is behind their front legs, they will be able to scratch with their hind legs. In this case, keep an extra watchful eye. If your dog knows the command “leave it” or something similar, use it to discourage scratching. Depending where your dog’s incision is located, a t-shirt covering the site may help to prevent them from scratching. However, be sure to speak with your vet, as for some procedures it’s necessary to let the site air. 

            Monitor for Changes of the Incision Site

            Check out the incision on a regular basis to monitor for signs of infection including heat, swelling, pus, and discharge. Monitor for any changes and contact your veterinarian if any issues arise.

            Restrict Activity

            It’s pertinent to restrict activity post-procedure, as excessive activity can lead to stitches breaking apart or the incision bleeding. Typically, activity needs to be restricted for 7-14 days post-procedure, but your veterinarian will provide proper instructions for your dog. The last thing you want is for your dog to cause stretching of the incision. Walk your dog on a short leash for potty breaks and do not allow them to run or engage in physical activity outside of these short potty breaks. This includes playtime with other dogs. Jumping and climbing is also off limits, including getting on and off furniture or climbing up and down the stairs. When stairs or car rides are necessary, consider using a sling or other device to assist your dog.

             

            In addition to these prompts to follow in order to keep the incision site clean and infection-free, be sure to follow general post-op instructions including: 

            • Confinement: Ensure your dog is kept separate from other dogs and too much activity. 
            • Monitor Behavior: Monitor your dog for any behavioral changes including lethargy, discomfort, pain, etc.
            • Emergency Preparation: Be sure you always have access to your dog’s veterinarian’s contact information as well as an emergency veterinary hospital. 

            To learn more about caring for your dog post-orthopedic surgery, click here

            How Do I Know My Dog’s Incision is Healing?

            Typically,  the incision will look redder in the first few days following surgery. The skin itself should remain its normal color. When incisions are healing properly, they’ll appear clean with the edges touching each other. Once the incision is fully healed, the redness should disappear and no sutures are needed to hold the wound together. While most discharge is a sign of infection, it is important to note that some types of discharge are normal. It’s normal in the first 24-72 hours for there to be a small amount of discharge that is clear or light yellow/light pink tint with no odor. However, if you witness any other type of discharge, be sure to contact your veterinarian. No tenderness or pain should be present on or near the site as well. A few symptoms that indicate the incision may be infected and medical attention is needed: 

            • Redness around the stitches
            • Swelling/tenderness on or near the incision site  
            • Fever 
            • Swollen lymph nodes 
            • Warmth on our around the incision site 
            • Discharge from the incision (blood, pus, odorous discharge/drainage)
            • Changes in behavior including loss of appetite, lethargy, or panting 

            Even more consequential than an infection, protruding tissue can be a complication of improper healing and opening of the incision site. Stitches are intended to keep the underlying tissues in place, but when stitches are pulled out, there’s a risk that the protruding tissues can bring on a more serious and even sometimes fatal infection. This is why it’s so crucial to ensure you and your dog follow post-operation instructions. 

            Types of Stitches

            Dissolvable Stitches

            Dissolvable or absorbable stitches are made from synthetic or organic material. These stitches dissolve overtime and do not require removal unless a reaction occurs. They typically begin to dissolve 7-10 days following surgery and will completely be absorbed by the body within 60 days. This type of stitches can be used on muscle and subcutaneous layers and organs, such as the intestine. Soft tissue, like bladders, can also use dissolvable stitches. However, it is not to be used for tendons or ligaments.  

            Non-Dissolvable Stitches

            Non-dissolvable stitches are made from synthetic or organic material and will need to be removed by your veterinarian. Typically, this type of stitches will be removed 10 -14 days following surgery. Non-dissolvable stitches are often used for cardiovascular repair, skin closures, ligaments, and tendons. Unlike dissolvable stitches, these are not used for gastric or bladder surgery. 

            Surgical Staples

            Surgical staples are made of either titanium or stainless steel and just like dissolvable stitches, require removal 10 -14 days post procedure using a specialized staple remover. Staples are utilized to close incisions of the skin, clamp vessel internally, and for sternum closure in open chest surgery.

            Suture Glue

            Suture glue is made of a material called cyanoacrylate and functions as an additional barrier to the wound. It can be used for minor incisions or to function as a secondary reinforcement. The glue falls off on its own 7-10 days following surgery.

            Process of Wound/Incision Healing

            The healing process of the wound or incision begins as soon as it is inflicted. There are four phases in the process of wound healing: Inflammation, Debridement, Repair, and Maturation. The overall process of healing is the same when it comes to wounds and incisions, however a few differences are noted due to the fact that the incision is “intentional” rather than a traditional wound. Learn more about the healing process below: 

            • Inflammation: The first stage in the healing process is inflammation which starts immediately. Its purpose is to control bleeding and activate the dog’s immune system. Blood clots are formed and the blood vessels are constricted to limit blood loss in the area of the wound/incision. 
            • Debridement: The second stage is debridement where fluid, dead tissue, and immunologic cells create pus which flows as a liquid from the wound and carries debris with it. This process starts within a few hours of the incision being initiated. These cells are essentially consuming dead tissues and cleansing the wound/incision area.
            • Repair: The repair stage begins in a couple days. Collagen starts to fill in the wound/incision to bind the torn tissues. The edge of the wound begins to create the moist, pink tissue that fills in the wound. Wound contraction occurs and new skin will form and cover the wound itself. However, when the wound is intentional aka an incision, due to the sutures in place, there’s no area for the body to fill with tissue. The wound is instead already held together and simply needs to bond together. The new skin begins to form across the site within 2 days. 
            • Maturation: The final stage in wound healing is maturation, which starts in 2-3 weeks but can take months or years to complete. Scarring forms once enough collagen has been deposited. This scar will become stronger overtime as new blood vessels and nerves grow in and the tissue restructures. Eventually, 80% of the original strength of the tissue will be recovered. When the wound is intentional aka an incision, the stages of healing work exactly the same but at a more rapid speed because there is no space in the tissue to fill in. For an incision, the whole process typically takes between 10-14 days total.  

             

            When your dog has surgery, the aftercare can be quite stressful. However, there are some best standard practices to follow when it comes to caring for your dog stitches after surgery. 
            When your dog has surgery, the aftercare can be quite stressful. However, there are some best standard practices to follow when it comes to caring for your dog stitches after surgery.