Post Surgery: What I Wasn’t Expecting

by Melissa R. on March 14, 2011

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Mocca happy to home from surgery

Mocca happy to home from surgery

My dog, Mocca, recently had surgery to remove a mass that had been growing over the past several years on the underside of her back left leg. The mass was just a fatty tumor, not cancerous (I had it tested years ago when it first appeared). But, it was getting bigger, and the bigger it got, the harder it would be to remove. So I decided to have it taken off. See the post about this decision here.

I thought I would be totally prepared for this, but I was naive I guess, and what I’ve been dealing with has been unexpected! I suppose I thought she’d just be fine right away, maybe a little sore. What I didn’t realize was…

  • I would have to keep her outside trips to on-leash 5-10 minute walks only for the 10-14 days.
  • I’ll be giving her antibiotics for two weeks to fight any potential infection, along with a supply of pain pills. (Pill Pockets here we come!)
  • Mocca would have to wear an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) so she wouldn’t irritate her incision. The “cone” we were sent home with was a shock. She couldn’t reach her water bowl very well, and whenever I put it on, she thought she couldn’t move. And when she did, it was just to bang into something and be confused as to why she couldn’t move. I tried a new inflatable type, which I heard many success stories about, but unfortunately, it didn’t work for us. After a few days, Mocca seemed a little more able to maneuver with the cone, but I am still thinking about getting the soft version.
  • I have to keep her downstairs at home until her leg is healed enough to make it up the 20 stairs to the main living area. This means altering my lifestyle at home completely so that I can spend as much time downstairs with Mocca as possible.
  • She is in a lot of pain. Her incision is about 6″ long. When we had our cat neutered, they sent us home with pain pills, and I wondered, how would I know if he needed them? We never even gave him any. With Mocca, there is no wondering. You can tell by the way she is hopping around on three legs, and looking at me with painful eyes when she has to walk up the four stairs to get outside. The mass was underneath the muscle, so her leg is expected to be pretty sore. I will post a photo of her incision at the bottom of the post. Don’t look if you don’t like that type of stuff.
  • I’d have to suffer watching her try to hop up on the bed in her room. Yes, it’s a real person bed she doesn’t HAVE to get on, but it is her habit. I set up an extra step for her so it would be easier, but she still gives me that first glance of “oh boy…this is gonna hurt.”

THANKFULLY, at the end of day three at home after surgery, she seemed to be doing a lot better and using the leg more. In fact, I was upstairs making dinner, when I heard this banging noise. I wondered what the heck she was doing so went to investigate. What did I find? Mocca trying to barrel her way through two propped up pet gates (leaning on each other to block the stairway, but allow the cats access). She was using her CONE to do the knocking over! I took the cone off and told her if she wanted to go upstairs then fine. She proceeded to trot up the stairs with little problem and then lay down happily in her dog bed. I guess she was ready for the stairs!

I am slowly taking her on longer walks, and I hope she continues to improve and we’ll be on track to remove the staples from her incision and be back to 100% in no time. I am, of course, worried she’ll have a limp or be unable to do agility anymore – but our vet said that shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll keep you posted! Thanks for all the great stories and advice.

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The incision

The incision


About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the DrsFosterSmith.com and LiveAquaria.com websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bonnie Ramba March 14, 2011 at 10:10 am

I was so happy to get a good report on Mocca! Yes, it is hard for us watching them go through their recovery. But … who knows, she may be saying, “Thank goodness that nasty old lump is gone!!”. I’m a big fan of the comfort cone. It is little shorter than some and soft enough to “crunch up” under a sleepy head. I also think her incision looks very good. I’ve been through much with my pets in my 50 + years and I totally understand your feelings now. My prayers and well wishes are with you both ~

Thelma Rusteberg March 14, 2011 at 11:51 am

Enjoyed this article. Trust Mocca is doing much better now.

Rosemary March 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Glad to hear the Mocca is doing well. I told you the hard part was probably going to be keeping her quiet until the stitches come out.

Ilka and I are practicing for our CGC. My instructor and I decided not to test her this past Saturday, because she was all over the place. I took her on a 2 mile run before we went to class, and still had the energy to jump on everyone. I took her to the university campus today, just to let her see all the people walking by her. She did pretty well, no jumping or barking, so I think we will be going more often. She needs to learn not to jump on people, and not just to get her CGC certificate or obedience titles. It’s basic civilization!

Stephanie Neff June 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Glad to read that Mocca is recovering well.
My husband and I have a wellness office in Edmonds, WA, and we recently worked with 2 dogs, post surgery, with the technology we use in our office (for people mostly!) Both vets couldn’t believe how fast the dogs healed and for the 12 1/2 yr. old lab who had her spleen removed, the vet was amazed, 1 week post surgery how much energy she had.
I am dedicating myself to spreading the word about the effective, safe, and drug-free treatments there are for pets.
Good health!

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