Post-surgical rest and recovery for veterinary patients - what's so hard about that?
Last week I stopped by the specialist’s hospital to drop off some X-rays. In the parking lot I spied a yellow lab with a shaved knee as he jumped sky-high into the seat of an F-350.
“Was that your patient?” I asked when I noticed one of the surgeons shaking his head wistfully nearby. “Sure is—but I wish he wasn’t.”
There’s nothing more frustrating than doing your best work only to find that some clients won’t accept even the most fundamental advice. Rest. In a crate. No jumping. No running. At all. We’ll sedate him if need be. She needs to heal, dammit! What more can I say?
And yet it seems there’s nothing more difficult for a vet to convey. Too often, I‘m forced to qualify the kind of rest I want by going through the pet’s daily routine:
- Help her up the steps—carry her if you can.
- Don’t let him jump onto anything—not even the sofa or the bed.
- Confine her to the crate when you’re not home to watch her like a hawk.
- Leave her in the crate for a few minutes if she goes wild when you initially arrive.
- Leash walks only.
- Separate him from other dogs if he’s playful.
- Keep her in a small room with no jump-up spots.
Shall I go on?
This list is absolutely necessary because without it I might get the worst kind of compliance imaginable. “Oh, I didn’t think you meant he couldn’t jump up onto my lap!” “Oh but it’s just three steps, not a whole staircase!”
You get the picture.
Then there are people willing to shell out $2,500 for a cruciate tear then let their dog jump way up into the pickup’s cab. What were they thinking??
If she CAN jump, they must think…it’s a good enough sign of her fitness for me. But what they don’t always get is that their pets are 1) lubed up on pain relievers so they don’t feel the hurt and 2) they’d probably jump anyway just to make you happy and because that’s what they always do. Remember: cats and dogs are creatures of habit.
That’s animals for you. They can’t be made to understand the things we humans easily grasp after spending a day in the hospital having our knee scoped…or whatever.
Cats and declaws? This is not only among my least favorite procedures because it’s too often unnecessary, it’s also on my s--- list for its high rate of complications. In my experience, nine out of ten of these complications are related to post-surgical activity (which is why I keep them in the hospital for two days).
What is it about amputating their cat’s knuckles they didn’t understand? Is keeping her in a small room with no high perches for a few days so terrible?
How about the dog with a neck injury whose owner still brings him in on a choke collar—after everything I’ve explained about the dangers of certain collars given this condition? Unless I personally fit the dog with a front-clip harness I can see that I’m not going to get very far…
I try. I swear I do. I talk myself blue. And yet it happens constantly. I know I’m not talking about most of you reading this. But I offer you this here because I believe we all can learn a thing or two from those of us not yet doing our best to allow our pets the chance to heal.
Remember: Rest. Means. Cage. Or. Crate. Rest. No. Jumping. No. Running. No. Exceptions. And. I. Mean. It!