When your dog is discharged from the clinic after her spay procedure, the veterinary staff will provide you with some postoperative instructions. These instructions will guide your nursing skills, as your furry friend recuperates in your care. You will be asked to keep the incision clean and dry, keep your dog as calm as possible, and keep an eye on the incision. Spay and neuter procedures, while common, are still surgery, and post-op patients need to be treated with care. One of the things that you need to watch for is swelling at the incision area.
What Is a Seroma?
A seroma is an accumulation of fluid, which is called serum, within a pocket of tissue under the skin. A seroma appears as swelling at the surgical site, and this can occur during the recuperation period that follows any surgical procedure. In the case of a spay procedure, the lump will appear around the incision line on your dog's abdomen. When palpated gently, it feels like a water-filled balloon. Seromas are not usually painful, but they can become large in size. It is important to confirm that the swelling is caused by a seroma and not by an infection. If you notice any swelling around your dog's incision, err on the side of caution. Schedule an appointment for your veterinarian to take a look, and, if necessary, drain the fluid.
How Are Seromas Treated?
Your veterinarian may opt to let nature take its course, if your dog's seroma is small in size. Typically, the accumulated fluid gets reabsorbed and redistributed by the body over time, so you may be instructed to simply monitor the seroma at home and to apply warm or cold compresses. Alert your veterinarian, if you observe any the following changes:
- The seroma appears larger.
- The seroma feels hard.
- The seroma is hot to the touch.
- The skin over the seroma appears red or exhibits any other change in color.
If the seroma is large, your veterinarian may insert a needle and extract the fluid from the pocket with a syringe. Most dogs tolerate this simple and quick procedure without issue.
What Causes and Prevents Seromas from Forming?
A seroma occurs as part of the postoperative healing process. Your dog's immune system has detected that her body has been invaded and trauma has been inflicted. This results in an inflammatory state, as the immune system goes to war at the site to combat infection and achieve healing. This leads to the accumulation of serum. By making the battle easier for your dog's immune system, chances of a seroma formation can be reduced. This is one reason that you were advised to keep your dog less active for a few days. She should not be allowed to run, jump, or roughhouse with the kids or other pets. This is easier said than done, when you are caring for a lively Labrador, rambunctious Rottweiler, or other playful pup. The following tips can help you to curb her enthusiasm for activity:
- Whenever your dog needs to go outdoors to relieve herself, take her outside on a leash. Walk her back inside, as soon as she has taken care of business.
- When you cannot supervise her activity level, put her in her crate. Do not present the crate as punishment. Treat the crate as though it is her private boudoir for rest and sanctuary.
- Remind the kids that their companion doesn't feel like playing, and assure them that if they let her rest, she will be ready and raring to go again soon.
- If your dog tends to get excited by other pets in your household, consider delegating a room in your home as her recovery room. Make sure that the room has a door that securely closes so that the pets cannot enter, and keep all of her necessities in the room.
- If your dog typically lavishes guests with overzealous jumps of welcome, either keep her on a leash until everyone has settled in and she can greet them calmly, or place her in another room for the duration of their visit.
Follow all of your veterinarian's postoperative care instructions, and keep your follow-up appointment to ensure that your dog's recovery and healing goes smoothly. Attentiveness and tender loving care will have her back to bouncing and zooming around happily in no time.