Something for the pain, please!
Posted at 04:52PM - Comments: (36)
A couple of weeks ago, I rented a room in the house where I have my office (editorial office of WDJ) to a super nice 19-year-old guy who has an adorable, three-year-old mixed-breed dog, MJ. You’ll start seeing her picture in WDJ; we always need new models! But one of the deals I made with MJ’s owner was that MJ would get spayed. He said he had been meaning to get it done – especially after MJ had an accidental litter of puppies last summer – but as a full-time student who works, he had lacked the time and means . . . the surgery hadn’t risen to the top of his priority list yet.
I really like this young man and I really like his dog. I donate money to my own local shelter and foster puppies for them frequently. It was a no-brainer to offer to pay for MJ to get spayed.
As it worked out, my tenant was working at a summer camp during the first two weeks of his residency; I offered to dog-sit MJ during those weeks, and get her spayed at that time. He was happy with the arrangement, and will return the favor in a few weeks by dog-sitting Woody for me when I need some help.
At the veterinary clinic, I was asked whether I wanted to pay extra for pre-surgical blood work for MJ, and whether I wanted to pay extra for a “pain pack.” I declined the blood test; she’s a young, very apparently healthy dog. I did ask for a heartworm test, however; my tenant admitted that there have been some lapses in her prevention medication. (Fortunately, she turned out to be negative for heartworm, and I purchased a year’s worth of preventive medication for her, too.)
I said yes to the “pain pack.” I think that whatever is available for pain should be administered to any dog undergoing spay or neuter surgery. It actually really surprised me that any sort of pain medication would be considered optional! At my local shelter, all the dogs who are spayed receive an injection of meloxicam, which gives them 24 hours of pain relief post-surgery.
When I picked up MJ after her surgery and not long before the clinic closed for the day, she was still pretty dopey. I was given five carprofen tablets, and told to give her one a day for five days, starting as soon as I got home.
I did give MJ a carprofen tablet when we got home, and understood it would take a while to kick in, but she seemed to be in so much discomfort, it made me physically uncomfortable. I’ve watched spay surgeries before; they are not a small undertaking! I felt really bad for her. I even carried her up and down the stairs a few times that evening when she indicated she had to go outside and pee; she would stand at the top (and then the bottom) of the stairs but was clearly reluctant to attempt negotiating them herself.
The next morning, after the carprofen had taken effect, she was more comfortable, but still seemed like she was in more pain than other dogs I’ve fostered post-surgery. I called the clinic to ask whether the “pain pack” I paid for included an injection of pain medication. The receptionist put me on hold so she could check MJ’s file . . . but then sort of waffled. “We sent you home with medication to give her for pain; are you giving her that medication?”
“Yes, of course,” I said. “But did she also receive an injection of pain medication?”
Finally, the answer I got was that they “usually” do, but for some reason they hadn’t! Oh, the poor girl! No wonder she was so sore.
Fortunately, the rest of her recovery was smooth. By the next day, she was able to negotiate the stairs (albeit slowly) and by day five, I was having to keep her and Woody separated so they wouldn’t play. Her incision looks neat and healed nicely, and I’m glad to know there are no more accidental puppies in her future, wherever that finds her and her young owner.
I understand that the use of analgesics following spay/neuter surgery was uncommon decades ago, but in recent years, I thought their use is considered standard procedure. What is your experience? Does this differ in different parts of the country?