If your dog has had hygroma surgery, it’s really important for you to follow all of the surgical recommendations from your veterinarian after surgery. In fact, the care you provide for your dog after hygroma surgery is as important to the success of that surgery as the surgery itself. With that in mind, here are the top 9 hygroma surgery aftercare tips.
1. Limit Your Dog’s Activity
First of all, when you have surgery on the skin of the elbow, there’s just not a lot of skin there and it’s a high motion space. So, the skin is moving and moving and it’s hard for that skin to heal. The sutures your vet put in there are going to keep the skin together long enough for it to heal. But, if your dog is active or allowed to lick or chew at the surgical site, there’s a higher risk of failure of that surgery. Too much activity could cause the sutures to break open and you’ll be right back in the vet hospital paying for another surgery.
Limiting your dog’s activity means keeping them inside the house and inside in a kennel when you’re not with him. Taking them outside on a leash only to urinate and defecate. We’re not letting that dog off the leash and not letting that dog run around the yard at all. That is also making sure that that dog is not jumping. We don’t want the dog running or jumping because that skin needs to heal and it takes 10 to 14 days for that skin to heal.
2. Limit Your Dog’s Access to the Hygroma Surgery Site
When your veterinarian says that you need to keep your dog quiet after surgery, then you need to do that. If your dog is allowed to lick or chew at the surgical site, there’s a higher risk of surgery failure. Licking and chewing at the site can cause infection or cause the area to re-open, which would again require a second surgery to correct.
Most likely you’ll be sent home with a bandage over the site. So you’re going to make sure that your dog does not remove the bandage, whether if it’s with a BiteNot collar or an E-collar that you put on the dog. Whether it’s putting a stocking, that the dog wears a onesie that has a sleeve that goes all the way down.
3. Manage Your Dog’s Pain
Talk to your veterinarian about pain control, because the number one reason that dogs will lick or chew at a surgical site in the beginning of the healing process is because it hurts. Later in the healing process, they’re most likely to bite and lick the area because it itches as the skin is healing. So, make sure you have adequate pain control.
4. Manage your Dog’s Energy Level
If your dog is happy and bouncing off the walls and loves to be active and doesn’t want to be cooped up, then you need to talk to your veterinarian about a sedative. Your veterinarian can prescribe medicine that will keep your dog calm during the healing process.
5. Keep Your Dog’s Bandage Intact and Clean
You want to make sure the bandage stays in place and does not get wet. You’ll want to pay special attention to any odor coming from the bandaged area as an odor is indicative of an infection. Make sure that the leg below the bandage and the toes look normal, making sure there isn’t any swelling as that may be a sign that the bandage is slipping or is too tight. You’ll also want to make sure that the bandage is really well-padded because we want, when that dog lays down, for it to lay down on padding.
6. Ask Questions and Ask for Help
You may receive a lot of hygroma surgery aftercare instructions from your vet. If you don’t understand what your veterinary care team is telling you, make sure to ask questions. Don’t be ashamed to ask questions. Make sure you understand what you’re getting into because this is your investment in your dog’s health.
If, during the healing process, you aren’t comfortable with what things look like, take a picture of what it looks like, send it to your vet or take your dog back to the vet. Or, if you’re not comfortable with the bandage care, take it in and have them do the bandage care for you. They would love to do the bandage care for you.
7. Manage Your Dog’s Medications
Managing your dog’s medications is one of the most important hygroma surgery aftercare tips. You’ll want to make sure that you finish all medications as prescribed, including antibiotics and pain medications. The signs of pain in dogs are very subtle and you may think, “Oh, my dog’s doing fine, he doesn’t need any more pain meds.” Well, he probably still needs the pain meds because once you stop the pain meds, then the dog’s like, “Whoa, what is this thing?” and then it starts chewing, right? So finish all the pain medications and antibiotics as they’ve been prescribed.
8. Keep Up with Any Additional Treatments
If your veterinarian recommends any kind of adjunct therapy such as photobiomodulation (a fancy word for cold laser therapy), be sure to keep up with it. It’s an awesome therapy that speeds healing, isn’t expensive, is non-invasive and feels very good to your dog. Taking your veterinarian’s advice and following through on adjunct therapy is a good investment and helps make sure that your dog is going to heal the best possible after hygroma surgery.
9. Keep Your Follow Up Appointments
Lastly, you’re going to want to make sure to get back in for all of your post-op rechecks. Most likely they’ll have you back in for suture removal and then another checkup after that. Keeping these appointments ensure your veterinarian can check for any issues and issue a clean bill of health to your dog after their hygroma surgery.
Follow these 9 hygroma surgery aftercare tips and any other instructions from your veterinarian. If the post-surgery period doesn’t result in a healed surgical site, you’re going to be right back in for another surgery. And, I can tell you, a second surgery is going to be even more difficult to heal.
To learn more about hygromas, complications and treatments, check out Dr. Sarah’s Definitive Guide to Hygroma.
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