Things I have found helpful with Darby

Write down all your questions. Every time you catch yourself saying, I wonder if... or I wonder what...., write it down. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your surgeon or their vet tech.

Prepare, as much as possible, before the surgery. Toys, slings, bones, crates and/or ex-pens. Think how will you get the dog in and out of the house, apartment, car and crate? Practice with the sling BEFORE the surgery. You and your dog should become very comfortable with it before you need it.

For a sling, I used a canvas tote bag with the side seams ripped out. I was able to grip the handles and guide Darby up and down the stairs that lead to the outside. I didn't lift her by the sling, but used it only as a guide in case she stumbled. I didn't want her coming down wrong on the injured leg. Once outside I took the sling off and let her potty, before telling her to wait and putting the sling back on and heading back indoors. I held the lead in my right hand and used my left for the sling.

BEFORE the surgery teach the dog the command "WAIT". The dog must "wait" after you open the crate so you can slip the lead and collar on its neck and fix up the sling. WAIT is a command that every dog should learn, even if there is no known surgery in its future. Its one of those commands that have invaluable service in the dog's every day life.

Other good commands to learn BEFORE you need them is "left", "right", "whoa", "step". The commands mean exactly what you think they mean. You can teach the dog to go to the left or the right, slow down a bit and take one step. The "STEP" command is useful if you want the dog to take one more step before stopping so you can do something for it.

Print out the list of things we have compiled about normal versus abnormal and ask your vet about them. Ask how much panting is normal, how much whining and restlessness and for how long.

Ask about pain relief. Discuss pain medications, anti-inflammatories and sedatives with your vet before you take your dog home. Aspirin will probably not be sufficient for post-op pain, especially the first few days. Make sure you have adequate pain relievers and possibly sedatives, on hand before you take your dog home. You might also want to discuss what the side affects are for the pain pills and sedatives you are giving and when you would need to call your vet.

Read EVERYTHING you can find on your type of surgery.

Once you've made the decision, found your surgeon and set the date, try not to worry. Easy enough to say but it doesn't do any good to worry. Try to concentrate, instead, on getting ready. Getting your place ready, gathering toys, preparing a place for the dog to recover and keep reading.

Find someone you can talk to about it. Whether at home or over the internet. Joining an email list like Orthodogs is a good idea.

Do you have an e collar? Does your clinic give you one? Do you have ideas about keeping the dog from licking the incision. If you have an e collar or plan on buying one, you may want to practice putting it on before the dog has surgery. You might consider a human cervical collar instead of the elizabethan collar.

2 days before the surgery start giving the dog a 1/2 capsule (if the dog is Lab sized) of Milk Thistle twice a day. Give until 2-3 days after the surgery. Milk Thistle will help the dog's system get rid of the effects of the anthesthesia.

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