Healing from surgery – how to make recovery easier for our dogs and cats

Many animals with cancer go under surgery to remove the primary tumor or as much of it as possible. Sometimes this is a fairly simple procedure if it is a small skin cancer which is being removed however in other cases surgery can involve removal or internal organs and can be much more extensive.

Even with the simple surgeries, surgery and anesthesia are hard on our animal friends. This is often even more difficult with cancer because most of these animals are already older. But there are things you can do to help them recover faster and more comfortably.

This article is written for my cancer book but also applies to any animals undergoing surgery or anesthesia.

As always, check with your veterinarian before using any supplements.

  1. Arnica
    Arnica is a homeopathic remedy which helps with bruising and trauma. Over the years I have been amazed and impressed at how much difference this very safe remedy can make in healing. I have seen incisions heal in half the time and dogs have very little bruising and swelling in situations you would normally expect to see it.

    I always recommend Arnica for all my animal patients who have to undergo surgery or any other procedure that there will be tissue or bone trauma. Because it is a homeopathic remedy it is very safe ever for old and debilitated animals.

    I use the Arnica 30c pellets and dose them at 2-5 pellets (usually 2 for cats/small dogs and 5 for large dogs) the morning of surgery, the evening after surgery, and then three times a day for three days. Because the pellets are so small they can safely be given the morning of surgery.

    Arnica can be bought at most health and supplement stores and online, click on Arnica above to go to the Amazon.com page.

  2. Acupuncture
    I highly recommend an acupuncture treatment right after surgery or anesthesia. Acupuncture can help with clearing anesthesia from an animal’s system and decrease the chance of them having a hard recovery. Acupuncture can also help ease pain and speed healing.

    If possible acupuncture can be performed the day of surgery after an animal has woken up. Many times this is not possible because of the hours acupuncturists work and I end up treating most animals the day after surgery.

    Acupuncture can also help dogs and cats who have had bad recoveries to anesthesia in the past and and make it possible to perform dentals or surgeries on these sensitive animals.

  3. Yunnan Baiyao
    While I don’t recommend Yunnan Baiyao (also called Yunnan Paiyao) for all animals undergoing surgery or anesthesia, it is still one of my most important herbal formulas. I mainly use it in any procedure or surgery where there is a concern about bleeding. This includes many tumor removal and abdominal surgeries. I have seen this wonderful herbal formula save animal’s lives before.

    Please see my article, A Magic Vial of Yunnan Baiyao and the wikipedia article.

    I usually dose Yunnan Baiyao at one capsule twice a day for a few days before and after surgery for your average sized dog. Cats and small dogs, I use the powder and put about a 1/8 of a teaspoon in their food twice a day. I reserve the red emergency pill for when an animal is already actively bleeding or when there is a very great risk of a bleed out during surgery.

    Yunnan Baiyao can be bought in most international districts and by clicking on Yunnan Baiyao above to go to the Amazon.com page.

  4. Reiki
    If one of my animals need to undergo surgery I always give them a reiki session before to get them into a good place for surgery. I usually work with a local practitioner, Rose DeDan, who also does animal communication. She is able to help explain what is going to happen and put their body in the best possible place for surgery and/or anesthesia.
  5. Pain medication
    Enough can not be said about pain medication. Make sure your veterinarian gives your animal pain medication before surgery and sends you home with something you can give at home. Nothing is worse then seeing our animals in pain and not being able to do anything about it. Pain medication is a most for all surgeries
  6. Companionship and love!
    You are the safest person to your animal. They want to be with you after surgery and they want to feel loved and cared for. If possible consider taking a day off work after their surgery or plan your animal’s surgery or procedure on a Friday when you can be home with their afterwards..
  7. Somewhere healing to recover
    It is so important to have somewhere safe, quiet, warm and soft to recover after surgery. Anesthesia can make the senses more sensitive and many animals get headaches coming out of surgery. Often times the drugs used also make our animal friends disoriented. Make sure that there is no access to stairs and nothing to fall off of. Keeping lights dim and sound to a minimum also helps. Sometimes classical music played softly will help relax our friends. If you have a highly stressed animal consider using a lavendar spray product in the environment or a pheramone spray such as Feliway for cats and D.A.P. Dog Appeasing Pheromone Spray for dogs
  8. Bach Rescue Remedy
    This product is a very mild flower essence that can help with the stress of recovery. It is very safe and gentle. Often times we human caretakers can also use a littlePut a few drops in your animal friend’s drinking water, on their lips or on the inside of their ear.The pet or human rescue remedy tinctures can be used. Do not use the pastilles as they contain xylitol which is toxic to dogs.

I hope these simple suggestions are helpful! I know they have helped many of the animals I work with and my own beloved animal companions.

Return to Integrative and Holistic Methods of treating cancer.

3 Responses to “Healing from surgery – how to make recovery easier for our dogs and cats”

  1. Mimi Says:

    Hi Lena,

    First, I apologize for posting this in the wrong place, I did so since comments in “Three Legged and Happy” are closed, and I wanted to get this message through to you.

    I have been thinking of you often… our Binny with osteosarcoma is still doing very well at 10 months post, 11 months since diagnosis (See my posts of Nov. 13th, to Nov. 16th, 11 under Three Legged & Happy as well as your article “The Internet Brings the World Closer” of January 24, 12.
    We have been amazed by how well and how happy she is, and most of all, by how long she remained so well.
    However, I saw a change in her and took her for a chest x-ray on August 17th, exactly 9 months after her amputation, it showed lung metastases. She was not coughing yet.

    I added immediately Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang (plus E Zhu & San Leng) and Xiao Chai Hu Tang, as well as a small daily dose of prednisone to her original protocol which has been for the last 9 months:

    – San She Dan Chu An Bei Ye – 2 vials a day
    – Ubiquinol 100 mg
    – Triple Mushroom complex (Shiitake, Maitake, Reishi) 200 mg each a day
    – IP6 – 800 mg twice a day
    – Artemisia 100 mg twice a day in rotations of 11 days

    Her eyes are, on and off, droopy and watery, and I don’t believe it is conjunctivitis but rather the reflection of the inner turmoil. She sometimes seems to be nauseated and she threw up a little clear liquid a couple of times.

    I am concerned that she has been on this treatment for too long, and I am particularly wary about the San She Dan. We took a blood test on August 17th, nothing jumps out as abnormal, her liver seems fine.

    Do you think that I can keep her on San She Dan, and do you have any other suggestion?

    On an other subject, I am sad to let you know that we lost Sugar Plum (see post of January 23rd, 12 under “How to Treat Liver Tumors…” 2 weeks after diagnosis, she was our youngest dog.

    Thank you very much Lena,

  2. Lena Says:

    I’m sorry about the lung mets:-( Your protocol seems good, sometimes in dogs that seem to possibly be having a reaction to being on so much I will do one day a week without herbs, it can sometimes make a large difference. I have used SSD longterm quite a bit but if you have an intuitive hit that it may not be working for her, stop it for a week and see if it helps, you can always restart it. I would agree that the eyes are probably related to the cancer inside. I’m sorry about Sugar Plum, that was very fast, too fast. Cancer is a difficult thing, sometimes even with everything we can do to help it is stronger than they are. I’ve had dogs who I didn’t think would live a month who lived for years and ones that I thought would do very well who died quickly.

    Thank you so much for keeping me updated on her Mimi, I really appreciate it!
    best wishes,

  3. Mimi Says:

    Thank you Lena, very much.
    I will follow your advice.

    Warmest regards.