Most pets are discharged three to seven days after surgery. They are usually returned for recheck and removal of stitches or staples (if present). Pain can be well controlled with owner-administered medications.
Postoperative recovery following surgery may include:
- Bladder expression three to four times daily (if necessary).
- Physical rehabilitation for muscle strength and flexibility.
- Exercise restriction to “bed rest” for at least four weeks.
Lifestyle changes may include weight loss, switching to a body harness instead of neck lead, and minimizing jumping off furniture.
Postoperative complications can include:
- Myelogram could precipitate seizures in the first 24 hours after the procedure.
- Incisional infection.
- Many patients have another disc herniated later in life.
- Continued wobbly walk or dragging hind toes when walking.
Prognosis varies significantly with the degree of injury and the location of the injury. Most disc ruptures that present in dogs, still walking, have an excellent chance to return to walking. However, if the pet has lost the ability to sense pain in their legs before surgery is performed, they may never walk again.
If left untreated, disc rupture can lead to permanent loss of the ability to walk. Most dogs that reach this point will also lose control of their urinary bladder and are at risk for chronic urinary tract infections and urine scald. Additionally, without motor function, patients cannot turn themselves and may develop bedsores and wounds.