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The Importance of Post Surgical Care

No matter what surgery your horse goes in for you will likely come home with a detailed letter of instructions for what you need to do. Despite the long list and tedious amount of care involved you should always be grateful since this guide to surgical aftercare is very important for your horse whether it is your first experience or you have had prior experience.

Before picking up your horse you should check with you attending veterinarian several days ahead of time to see what you will need to get for post surgical care. This can often including feed, medication and bandaging materials.

Before brining your horse home you will want to have a stall prepared and have extra shavings on hand. To make daily stripping and rebedding easier you may want to fit the stall with rubber mats. Horses can be extremely messy if they are on a twenty-four hour stall confinement no matter how many times you pick out their

stalls a day. For a lower risk of respiratory problems you will need to have the barn properly ventilated. To keep urine odors to a minimum you may want to use a stall freshener. For a horses recovery you may want a free choice salt, two full and clean water buckets along with plenty of hay so they can have comfortable living arrangements when they return.

It is a little more complicated when it comes to proper feeding. To aid digestion after surgery it may be a good idea to order some alfalfa to have on hand. One flake twice a day is a good idea in addition to all the grass hay your horse wants. Since many horse owners do not keep alfalfa on hand it would be a good idea to call in an order ahead of time so it will be there when your horse comes home. A good, reliable substitute to alfalfa hay if you canít find any is the bagged alfalfa forage. Horses that are confined to a stall often arenít allowed grain so a good replacement can be grass hay with finely chopped carrots mixed in.

A horse can have more energy than they are able to burn off in their stall if they are given large amounts of concentrated feed. You horse may be allowed gradually increasing amounts of grain depending on the surgery and the instructions your veterinarian provides. A veterinarian may also require you to give a horse Metamucil after a surgery and you may need to order quite a bit of this from your local pharmacist depending on what your veterinarian instructs.

Another good part to add to your daily routine is a good, vigorous grooming each day. This not only helps the horse stay clean and comfortable but it helps keep and promote circulation for the horse.

The next thing you may need to get read for is three weeks or so of hand-walking and hand-grazing. You may spend a great majority of your time each day for these activities with a horse after surgery and you will need to do it no matter what the weather is like outside. The recovery process depends greatly on these two activities since the digestive system is stimulated by both walking and grazing.

For added insurance against an unexpected breakaway you should use a long line rather than a shorter lead shank no matter how quiet and polite your horse is after a surgery. Depending on the surgery your horse has had done the veterinarian may require that you give them a sedative before they become safe to walk outside the barn.

Usually around the three week mark depending on the type of surgery you should then be able to turn them out into a small paddock. The veterinarian will often give you the specific size allowed to prevent the horse from stretching and tearing the tissues that are healing.

During the time that your horse is in the paddock you will often have to continue to hand-graze them. Usually about a month after surgery your veterinarian will allow you to let the horse back out to full pasture turnout.

While it may be time consuming to care for a horse after surgery it is definitely worth it for the horse. However, you should always be prepared for the fact that you will likely have to spend six to seven hours a day caring for a horse that has undergone surgery of any kind.

Practical Nursing

There are several questions that you should ask yourself when considering if you will be able to properly care for a horse after surgery. The obvious first question is do you have what it takes to care for a horse that is recuperating from surgery?

Next you should ask yourself if you can provide them with a clean and comfortable stall since prolonged stall confinement is often required after a horse receives a serious injury or illness.

Although it may seem weird you should evaluate your own temperament before taking on the task of caring for a horse after surgery. The reason for this is that a horse will require frequent medications and the changing of unpleasant bandages after a surgery.

You should also make sure you have a willingness to learn since you may need to be taught by your veterinarian in how to give intramuscular injections and be shown how to properly treat proud flesh.

Perhaps the most important question you need to ask yourself is if you have the time to care for a horse after surgery. Hours of attention is required by a horse that is confined to a stall. You should clean the stall often while also grooming them daily to prevent skin problems from developing. It is very important that medications be given as specific and proper intervals. You need to be around constantly in case the horse requires additional attention or help. There is also a considerable amount of time that needs to be spent hand-walking and hand-grazing the post surgery horse.

Read the next horse health tips article on Swimming and Horse Rehabilitation.
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