Client FAQ - Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in College Station, Texas Client FAQ - Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Client FAQ

For small animal appointments call (979) 845-2351 Monday - Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Emergencies accepted 24 hours a day

How can I schedule an appointment for with the Orthopedic Surgery Service?

Appointments can be scheduled with the Orthopedic Surgery Service by contacting the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital Monday through Friday at 979-845-2351. Either you or your veterinarian can make the initial phone call, but we will need to speak with your veterinarian prior to confirming the final appointment.

Do I need to stop all of my pet's medications before the initial appointment?

Medications prescribed to treat systemic problems such as hypothyroidism should not be stopped. Medications for pain (aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Rimadyl ®) should be stopped 3-5 days before the initial exam. If your dog is taking corticosteroids (prednisone, dexamethasone) or antibiotics, these medications should be stopped for a minimum of 2 weeks prior to surgery. If your veterinarian suspects an active infection and prescribed antibiotics, these antibiotics should be continued through the day of the initial appointment. Always consult your pet's veterinarian before suddenly stopping any medication.

Will my pet's surgery be performed on the day of the initial appointment?

No. Dogs undergoing evaluation for orthopedic surgery must be carefully screened. A thorough physical exam, orthopedic exam, labwork, and radiographs (x-rays) must be completed before surgery is considered. If problems are detected during these tests, this might indicate that your pet is not a good candidate for surgery. If abnormalities are not detected during the initial exam and surgery is recommended, the procedure is usually scheduled for the following day. Occasionally surgery will have to be postponed in order to perform surgery on more critical emergency patients, such as those animals with fractured (broken) or luxated (dislocated) bones.

How long will it take for my pet to recover?

Most orthopedic patients recover from anesthesia and surgery and are able to go home 1-3 days after surgery. Remember, orthopedic surgeries are major procedures, and many involve the cutting, movement, and stabilization of bones and ligaments. Thus, most veterinary orthopedic patients must be confined to a crate or kennel and allowed outside only on a leash for a minimum of 4-6 weeks after surgery (see below).

What type of care is required once my pet is home?

Care after surgery falls into two categories. The first category is care of the surgical incision. Most surgeons will place a compression bandage on the operated leg after surgery. These bandages reduce swelling and protect the incision from the outside environment. If the bandage has been removed when your pet is sent home, the incision should be kept clean and dry. You should inspect the wound daily for signs of infection for 10-14 days after surgery. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, pain or heat when touched, and fluid coming from the incision. In many cases, we provide an Elizabethan collar (E-Collar) for your pet. Although cumbersome, it is critical that your pet wear the E-collar at all times, usually for 10-14 days after surgery. Allowing your pet to lick or chew at the incision can cause major complications, such as an incision infection or dehiscence (the incision begins to come apart).

The second category of post-op care is exercise restriction and rehabilitation. We typically recommend that your pet be confined to a small crate or cage unless your pet is being taken outside on a leash for prescribed leash walks. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around, lie down, and have room for food and water. Confining your pet to a small area of the house such as a bedroom or a fenced yard/run is not sufficient confinement. During the recovery period, your pet should be taken outside 4-5 times a day for 15 minutes to eliminate (urinate/defecate). Care should be taken to avoid walking on slippery surfaces, and long flights of stairs are not allowed. Furthermore, running, jumping, or rough-housing with other pets is strongly discouraged. After the first 4-6 weeks of cage confinement, we will typically allow SLOW, 5 minute leash walks 2-3 times a day. These leash walks are increased by 5 minutes each week, until leash walks are 20 minutes long. Leash walks are continued until your pet's recommended recheck appointment, at which time your pet will be re-examined using radiographs (x-rays) and an orthopedic examination. Based on these tests, additional recommendations are made regarding exercise restriction and confinement.

Specific rehabilitation exercises will also be recommended. These exercises typically include cooling the incision with an ice pack a few times a day, range of motion exercises for the operated joint and limb, and other rehabilitation exercises tailored to your pet's surgery. For more information on our rehabilitation services, please visit our rehabilitation home page.

My pet was sent home with a bandage on the affected limb. What type of bandage care is required?

If your pet was discharged with a bandage, this usually means that the surgical incision or wound is not ready to be exposed to the outside environment. In some cases, bandaging is required for days or weeks after surgery. In general, bandage changes are performed as frequently as every day, or as infrequently as once or twice a week. Your pet's specific injury and wound will determine how frequently the bandage should be changed. In all cases, we recommend that bandages be changed by a licensed veterinarian. When applied properly, bandages are very effective tools, and are essential in treating some orthopedic and soft-tissue problems. When applied improperly, however, bandages can cause serious injuries, such as pressure sores, open wounds, infections, and even loss of blood supply to tissues beneath the bandage. For these reasons, always consult with a veterinarian for bandage care.

If you pet has a bandage on at home, monitor the position of the bandage daily. If the surgical incision becomes visible, the bandage has slipped and should be removed or replaced. You should also prevent the bandage from becoming wet or soiled. Particular events that cause a bandage to become wet include drinking from the water bowl or walking outside in wet or dirty areas. To prevent the bandage from becoming wet when you take your pet outside, cover the bandage with a plastic bag, exam glove, or a plastic bandage sleeve. Be sure to remove the plastic from the bandage after trips outside. This prevents moisture from becoming trapped in the bandage and along the wound.

When should I bring my pet back to Texas A&M for a re-check exam?

Most orthopedic surgery patients are re-checked 4-6 weeks after surgery, however, individual re-check dates vary with each patient. At the time of discharge, you will be provided with a complete summary of your pet's treatment and requested re-check date. In certain cases, re-check exams and radiographs (x-rays) may be performed at your regular veterinarian. If major orthopedic procedures are performed, we prefer to re-examine your pet at Texas A&M.

Re-check appointments can be scheduled with the Orthopedic Surgery Service by contacting the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital Monday through Friday at 979-845-2351. Be sure to call and schedule this appointment 3-4 weeks in advance, as appointments sometimes fill up quickly.