While canine surgeries are common, even routine surgery can result in an infection. Some signs are easy to spot: swelling, drainage or an open incision. Surgical infections can result in a failed operation, illness and expense.
Signs of Infection
Drainage at the surgical incision is a common sign. You may see blood, clear fluid or pus. A small amount of swelling may be normal immediately after surgery, but it should not worsen. Heat or redness indicate inflammation, while broken or missing sutures or staples may predispose Scruffy to developing an infection. Abnormal behavior -- from not wanting to eat to sleeping more -- can all be signs that Scruffy feels ill.
In Case of Infection
If you think Scruffy has an infection, contact your veterinarian immediately. Since post-operative infections can have so many complications, the sooner you have Scruffy seen, the better. Clean around the site gently with a damp -- not saturated -- rag, as you don’t want the incision getting wet. If your veterinarian gives you antibiotics, give them to Scruffy.
To prevent an infection, follow your veterinarian’s instructions. Put an Elizabethan collar -- or “cone” -- on Scruffy to keep him from licking his incision. Keep the site dry and avoid bathing him until he’s healed. Most importantly, keep Scruffy from being active. Many vets recommend crating your pet, and most will recommend only short leash walks. If you have trouble keeping Scruffy quiet, talk to your veterinarian about sedation options.
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.