When your dog has surgery, the first thing you consider is if they are in pain. When we feel pain or discomfort, we can take over-the-counter pain killers or apply a soothing heat pack, but what can you give your dog for pain after surgery?
Traditional pain medication
Typically, after your dog has had surgery, they will be given a prescription pain medication as part of their recovery. The most common is buprenorphine (sometimes labeled as suboxone), which is an opioid painkiller that blocks pain signals traveling along the nerves to the brain. Buprenorphine is used to treat moderate post-surgery pain.
Your dog may also be given a local anesthetic to control the worst of the pain immediately after surgery. In combination with an opioid painkiller like buprenorphine, this will provide much better pain relief.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are also commonly used. You will recognize these as Metacam or Loxicom. They work by reducing inflammation, as well as blocking the formation of chemicals that promote pain.
Alternatives to pain medication
If you prefer to take a more natural approach to pain relief for your dog, there are several natural home remedies you can try. We must be clear that you should always consult your vet before giving your dog home remedies.
Many holistic veterinarians recommend flower essences for shock or emotional trauma and various homeopathy options for wounds, nerve damage or bruising.
For dogs prescribed antibiotics, a 2-week course of probiotics is advised once or twice per day.
You may also want to consider a gentle massage to help release the tension your dog is holding from his illness or injury and his surgery. Stay away from the surgery site to avoid causing further pain. The best areas are around the ears, back of the neck and the shoulders. This can be continued for 2 to 3 months after surgery.
Reiki is another holistic therapy you can try, which has many potential benefits, including both physical and mental healing. If you are unsure how to go about this, you can search for Canine Reiki practitioners in your area, but be sure to check that they are qualified.
Restrict your dog’s movement
Often after surgery, the biggest trigger of pain is movement, especially if you have an excitable or active dog.
For the first few days, you should restrict your dog to one room of the house and do not let them jump on and off the furniture. Keep their water bowl close by so they do not have to go far.
Walk with them when they go outdoors for the toilet and keep their daily walks short, slow and calm. A little gentle exercise is good for the muscles and prevents stiffness in their joints.
Do not let your dog use the stairs for at 3-4 days after surgery, as the motion of climbing may agitate their wound and cause sudden, sharp jolts of pain.