Veterinary emergencies can be traumatic and exhausting for all parties involved. At BrightCare Animal Care, we understand how scary the fear of losing a pet can be, but we also want to remind our pet owners that there’s still a lot of work to be done even after seeing an emergency vet.
Your veterinarian will guide you through the process of how to take care of your pet after an emergency. Considering how hectic a pet emergency can get, we understand if you aren’t able to take note of every little thing they say. In case you don’t remember every single detail at the animal hospital, you can always refer to this guide about how to care for your pet post-emergency!
Rest & Recovery
Every animal’s journey to recovery is different. It depends on many factors, such as the size and breed of the animal, the severity and type of emergency, and the outcome of the emergency treatment or surgery. Because post-treatment care varies so much, it’s important to pay close attention to your animal’s veterinarian as they give you emergency care instructions. Don’t hesitate to give the office a call later on if you are confused about what to do. Better safe than sorry! Your vet will be happy to clarify the issue.
With that being said, most animals will need time to rest, no matter what their emergency was. The body heals best during sleep. When pets are asleep, their bodies regulate all types of important hormones that support stress control, appetite regulation, and more. Getting proper sleep is known to improve an animal’s memory, mood, and overall health.
Because the body is not occupied with much physical or conscious mental activity during sleep, the body can focus its more caloric energy to recovery. As your pet rests, its body is generating white blood cells to aid the immune system in fighting off infections and viruses. The brain also triggers tissue growth to repair blood vessels during sleep.
To ensure your pet is getting the sleep it needs, create a comfortable environment where it can relax and doze off. Environmental factors such as comfort level, noise level, temperature, and light can all affect your pet’s ability to rest. It’s also a good idea to establish a sleep schedule for your pet at night. Regulating your pet’s bedtime can make it easier to fall asleep every night.
Let your pet nap throughout the day as well! Create a space where they can retreat without being bothered by other family members.
Chances are your pet will already be pretty exhausted once you get home from the animal hospital. Don’t worry if your pet is tired or lethargic for 12 – 24 hours after the emergency treatment. In fact, it’s a good idea to limit their activity for a while once you get home. Too much activity can exacerbate health problems and slow down healing. You definitely don’t want your pet getting in an accident right after treatment!
Your veterinarian may even suggest confining your pet inside, so they don’t run around outside. Too much movement can place stress on your pet’s body and cause it to heal incorrectly. Exposing your pet to the outdoors can also expose it to harmful pathogens before their immune system is strong enough to protect them against sickness.
Should your pet get antsy from confinement, you can still take them out for some light exercise! Just make sure you aren’t engaging in any high-intensity exercise in a risky environment (extreme temperatures, mountainous terrain, etc).
Nutrition & Medication
Your pet also proper diet and nutrition to heal correctly. Eating high quality, nutritious food with the right vitamins and minerals is vital to the healing process. Talk to your veterinarian about what type of food is best for your pet’s situation as this can vary with each case. You may have to change your regular pet food to accommodate your pet’s medication as well!It’s not uncommon for pets to lose their appetite for 24 hours after an accident. This may be due to their pain medication, trauma, or exhaustion. Regardless, you need to make sure your pet is getting the food they need to get better!
Never force-feed your pet. Instead, try feeding it lighter meals at first. Giving a patient more food than it is ready for can result in nausea and discomfort. If your pet vomits, give it plenty of water to stay hydrated and try again later. Repeated vomiting or diarrhea may necessitate another visit to the vet.
The most commonly prescribed medication for animals are painkillers and antibiotics. If your veterinarian prescribes antibiotics, make sure to give your pet the full dosage over the recommended about of time, even if your pet starts to feel better before the medicine runs out. Otherwise, the bacteria can develop antibiotic resistance and make your pet sicker than it was in the first place.
For big, energetic animals, the doctor may prescribe sedatives or anti-anxiety medications in addition to painkillers. Make sure your pet is being supervised if you do give it medicine. It’s important to keep an eye out for how they react to the side effects.
If your pet was injured in an accident or suffers from a physical ailment, you may need to take them to physical therapy. Certain body parts need guided exercise to function correctly. Pets who suffer from neurological conditions affecting the nervous system or spine may have trouble with regular activities like walking or eating. In this case, you definitely will want to look into physical therapy to improve your pet’s quality of life.
A veterinary physical therapist, also known as a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapists (CCRT), can rehabilitate your animal. CCRTs understand animal anatomy, physiology, therapeutic exercise, and neurological rehabilitation. Working with one can:
- Decrease pain
- Increase circulation
- Build muscle/prevent muscle atrophy
- Improve limb function
- Boost healing
- Control weight, blood pressure, cholesterol
- Heal tissue
- Improve the quality of life
- Reduce stress on joints
- Perform regular activities
- Alleviate anxiety
Along with regular sessions with the CCRT, you may be asked to help your pet perform certain exercises at home. Once your pet is mostly healed and learns how to complete the physical therapy at home with correct form, you can talk to your vet and CCRT about reducing the number of physical therapy appointments.
It’s important to see a professional the first few times because your animal could hurt itself trying to move around without guidance. Intense physical activity could cause stitches to become undone and open wounds to infection. A good physical therapist will prevent bones and muscles from healing the wrong way, so your pet won’t have any future complications from its injuries.
Love & Attention
This might seem obvious, but we’re including it anyway! Our pets are like children and they need lots of love and attention to get better. Even if you can’t play fetch with your dog or feed your kitten kitchen scraps, you can still schedule some time to spend time with your beloved pet. Animals can get lonely when they’re all cooped up without the ability to explore. Keep your pet from getting depressed by making sure they get a lot of TLC. An animal’s mental state can definitely affect its ability to get better. If your pet is constantly stressed and sad, it won’t be able to heal as quickly!
Vet Follow Up
After a week or two, you’ll want to check in with your local and emergency vet and update them on your pet’s progress. Eventually, you will need to take your animal back to the hospital or clinic for a follow up. When you take your pet back to the vet, you can expect:
- Physical exam
- Prescription refills
- Cast or splint removal
- Stitch removal
It just depends on what the original emergency was! Some pets might not even need a follow up with the vet.
If you do take your pet to the animal hospital, however, write down any questions beforehand. If your pet has been behaving oddly or the symptoms of the emergency have not subsided, you’ll want to ask the vet. They can alter your pet’s post-care treatment to address the problem.
For more information about post-treatment care, give us a call at BrightCare Animal Care! We specialize in veterinary neurology and emergency services for small animals. As important as our jobs are, we know that being an owner is an even bigger responsibility. That’s why we want to provide as much help as we can to the people who provide homes for all our furry friends in Orange County. Feel free to reach out to one of our veterinarians! They will be happy to help.