Post-Surgery Care Instructions Following Fracture Repair

What to Expect

Your pet may have undergone fracture surgery to stabilise their bone fracture(s). The degree of limb usage immediately after surgery varies between patients. In general, the lighter the patient, the better they tend to do after surgery. 

Post-surgical care is vital to the overall success of the surgery and relies heavily on owner input. In general, care consists of protecting the surgical implants by confinement followed, by a supervised return-to-exercise programme which helps increase your pet's mobility and limb function. Convalescent (recovery) periods for patients who have undergone fracture surgery can be as long as 4 months or more – please do not be discouraged with their progress too early on. 


General Post-Surgery Care

After coming home from the clinic, your pet should be kept in a warm, dry, quiet and ideally indoor location in the 24 hours following discharge. If your pet is discharged on the same day that he/she had surgery, they may still be a little bit drowsy after they go home with you. There may also be some irritability or incoordination during this initial 24-hour period immediately after the surgery.

The shaved area on your pet's front or back legs is the IV injection, IV catheter and IV fluid site(s). Some bruising to this area may be seen when they go home with you; however, if this persists beyond 72 hours, please give us a call at the clinic. You may also find that the underside of their paw may have been shaved - this allowed the placement of blood pressure monitoring equipment, so that we could monitor their progress under anaesthesia closely. 


Surgical Site and Wound Care

The surgical site is located on either on the inner or outer aspect of the affected knee joint. Some pets may have a light bandage applied over their surgical wound after surgery, and this is usually removed at home about 48 hours after the surgery. Your veterinarian or veterinary nurse will advise you when is an appropriate time to remove the bandage at home. There are several sutures present on the surgical site - it is helpful to count the number of stitches present when your pet first goes home with you, so that you will know if any goes missing before the wound is fully healed.

The surgical site should be checked daily for swelling, discharge or loss of sutures. It is important that you keep your pet in a clean and dry environment so that the surgical wound remains clean. Pets should not get bathed or allowed to get their wound wet in any way, until all the stitches have been removed. For cats - please only use shredded paper or non clumping litter in the litter tray to prevent the litter material from sticking to the wound.

It is also imperative that your pet is not allowed to lick at the surgical site because this may lead to the wound splitting open before it is fully healed and/or wound infections and/or other more serious complications. If you notice your pet licking or chewing at the surgical site, he/she will need to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent this. E-collars may be purchased from our clinic reception. Ensure that pets are not allowed to roam outdoors without close supervision when they are wearing an E-collar, as this poses a choking hazard if it gets caught in a fence or branch.


Exercise & Physiotherapy

It is extremely important that your pet follows your veterinarian's rehabilitation instructions closely, in order to maximise the outcome and success of the surgery. Without adequate confinement, small degrees of movement at the fracture repair site can slow or impair the healing process, and in some instances, this may also lead to implant breakage or migration.

It is vital that you enforce the strict confinement and cage rest as directed by your veterinarian, with supervised exercise/activity only. Cats must remain indoors until the fracture is fully healed. All dogs should be toileted on a lead and only light lead exercise is allowed. As there is much variation in time that a fracture in different locations takes to heal for different patients, your veterinarian would have specified how many minutes of daily excerise is permitted for your pet at each phase of the recovery period.

As the fracture healing progresses, your pet will feel progressively more comfortable and would naturally want to increase its activity and you may find that enforcing rest may become a little bit more challenging for you and your family. However, it is imperative that you continue with the enforced rest, until a good response to healing is seen on the 6-8 week post-operative xrays.

For some patients, at the time of discharge, your veterinarian or veterinary nurse would have also demonstrated how to perform physiotherapy exercises on your pet at home. Besides the physiotherapy exercises that you can perform on your pet at home, you may also consider booking your pet in for professional physiotherapy sessions once all stitches have been removed. Talk to your veterinarian about the physiotherapy and rehabilitation services offered for canine patients in Palmerston North. Please do not hesitate to contact us at the clinic if you require further clarification or have any enquires regarding the exercise regime of your pet following fracture repair surgery.



Unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian or veterinary nurse at the time of discharge, no significant change is usually required to your pet's diet. However, it may be helpful to decrease their daily rations by 10-15% during the recovery period, so that they do not pile on excessive weight during the duration of reduced activity.


Post-Surgery Revisit

For some pets, your veterinarian may recommend that he/she comes back to the clinic in 3-5 days' after the visit for a recheck with one of our nurses. The nurses will check the surgical wound, your pet's temperature, and check that your pet is tolerating their oral medications well. Other aims of this visit is also to ensure that everything is going as planned at home, and that your pet's pain levels are well-managed. We can also address any concerns you may have with the post-surgical home care of your pet during this time.

Post-operative radiographs (x-rays) typically occurs at 6 to 8 weeks after the surgery - your veterinarian will advise you of the appropriate time to book your pet in for these x-rays. For some pets, your veterinarian may also recommend a 12 week post-op radiograph.


Suture Removal

Sutures are typically removed 14 days after the surgery. Occasionally, your veterinarian may decide to "stage" the suture removal in that half of the stitches come out in 14 days', and the remainder comes out 5-7 days' later. Please phone for an appointment to book your pet in for suture removal.



Your pet would have received additional pain relief medications after their surgery, and most pets will also have oral medications to go home with. Please administer all medications as directed on the label; ensure that all pain relief medications are given with a meal.


Should you have any enquiries or further concerns about the post-operative care of your pet, please do not hestitate to phone us at (06) 3588675 to discuss.



Published by Cahill Animal Hospital on 01 August 2016
The team at Cahill Animal Hospital is here to provide you and your pet with the best possible medical, surgical and supportive care. Our motto "We care as much as you do" is a very important part of our day to day work. We are committed to providing you and your pet with the best options for care.

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