Surgery/Wound Healing in Pets

What is trauma?

Trauma, whether it results from surgery, training or injury, is damage to tissue that leads to inflammation, bruising and breakdown of the affected tissue. Damaged tissue cells release compounds that have the potential to damage neighbouring cells.

The more cells that are affected by these compounds, the larger the area of trauma will be, resulting in your pet’s sustaining more pain and tissue damage.

When areas of tissue become extensively damaged, the body will deposit scar tissue. Unfortunately, scar tissue is very resistant and inflexible, resulting in reduced function and/or mobility. To avoid these problems, it is important to reduce the amount of inflammation that accompanies trauma, whether due to surgery or injury.

How to improve healing following surgery

If your pet has been injured, and/or has had surgery, you will want to make his/her recovery time as fast as possible. This may mean immobilizing the area of injury and keeping your pet as quiet and inactive as you can. It is also important to ensure your pet receives the painkillers he/she needs. Here are some tips on helping your pet heal.

  • Try to keep the affected area as immobile as possible. Your veterinarian may suggest a splint or a removable brace to provide adequate stabilization during the recovery period.
  • Discourage your pet from licking or chewing at the incision site. If licking and chewing persists you should place a “lampshade collar” around your pet’s neck.
  • Use acetaminophen to control pain (unless your veterinarian suggests otherwise).
    Never give acetaminophen to cats.
  • Give your pet plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Watch for signs of infection (heat, redness, increased discomfort, discharge), and notify your vet immediately if you think the wound has become infected. Antibiotic therapy may be necessary.
  • Do not allow your pet to get wet for at least seven days following surgery.
  • Heat/cold therapy usually helps to reduce pain
  • Be attentive to your veterinarian’s prescribed plan of treatment.

Commonly prescribed therapies

Analgesic and Anti-inflammatory medications

Ideally, these should only be used for the short term, when necessary to control pain.


For mild to moderate pain in dogs, your veterinarian may recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Panadol®, Exdol®, etc.). Since acetaminophen is only a pain reliever and has no anti-inflammatory properties, it can generally be safely combined with anti-inflammatory medications when recommended by a veterinarian.

Too-high doses of acetaminophen can cause liver damage. You should therefore seek a veterinarian’s advice before administering acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is toxic to cats.


Visco-supplementation is the process of injecting a gel-like substance into a joint. This may be done following surgery. This substance lubricates the cartilage, reducing pain and improving flexibility. Visco-supplementation decreases friction within the joint, thus reducing pain and allowing greater mobility. This method of treatment requires ongoing injections as benefits are only temporary. Substances used in visco-supplementation include hyaluronic acid, or HA (Legend®, Hylartin® and Synacid®), and poly-sulfated glycosaminoglycans (PSGAGS) such as Adequan®.

Other ways to help your pet


Recovery®SA with Nutricol®, is an elite proprietary performance and wellness supplement for small animals that enhances quality of life. Recovery®SA improves healing by increasing circulation of nutrients to affected cells and extracellular structures, halting tissue damage and modulating inflammation. It may be used in combination with prescribed medications. Always consult with the veterinarian prior to adding a new natural lifestyle supplement to an animal’s feeding program.

Review in the prestigious Horse Journal in October and December 2003

Recovery® rated as “Best Performer Overall” as a pain-relieving supplement for joint pain, back pain and tendonitis – comparison of natural joint care supplements.

Review in the prestigious Horse Journal in June 2006

“You get what you pay for” – Horse Journal quote about Recovery® used as a performance enhancing supplement – comparison of natural performance enhancing supplements

Refer to Tips for a Healthier Pet


Applying heat helps relax aching limbs and may temporarily reduce pain. (Heat helps to reduce pain and stiffness by relaxing tense muscles and increasing circulation to the area). Applying cold helps to lessen pain and swelling (Cold helps numb the area by constricting the blood vessels and blocking nerve impulses.)

There is some concern that heat may worsen symptoms in an already inflamed limb so monitor your pet’s reaction carefully following application of heat. Applying ice or cold packs appears to decrease inflammation.

Helping your pet after surgery

You will need to limit your pet’s exercise for three to four weeks after surgery. Prior to therapy prescribed by your veterinarian, you should limit your pet’s activity to reduce pain and minimize the chance of reinjury. Your pet should not run, jump or play during his/her recovery and should be watched carefully. Give assistance when he/she climbs stairs or gets in and out of the car. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding physical therapy and medications.

Click here for in-depth benefits and information on the post-surgical use of Recovery®SA.

For more information on helping your pet stay healthy, please see Tips for a Healthier Dog