Post Surgical Home Care of Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy after orthopedic surgery is critical to the success of the surgery. Allowing your cat or dog too much activity may alter the anticipated outcome of the surgery. Remember, this surgery is a procedure designed to eliminate future arthritis and pain from the damaged or diseased hip joint and although the joint will never be “good as new”, your cat or dog will have full function of the leg. Your cat or dog will not have “full range of motion” and may experience a very slight limp, but this is due to the “false joint” that forms higher up on the pelvis and is not a sign of any pain or discomfort. The following instructions will be your guide to home care: (Note: once your cat or dog is walking normally, no matter how soon after surgery, you may stop all rehabilitation exercises but continue exercise restriction for a minimum of six weeks to allow full healing of soft tissues.) 

Week 1:

  • Provide pain management with the medications provided to you.
  • Apply an ice-pack to the hip for 10 to 15 minutes two to three times a day for the first 24 to 48 hours post surgical.
  • If inflammation has resolved after 72 hours, apply a hot-pack to the hip for 10 to 15 minutes two or three times a day
  • Perform passive range of motion exercise (gently flex and extend the hip); 20 to 30 times, slow repetitions three times a day 
  • Keep confined to a small area of the home where jumping and running is not possible (small bathroom, laundry room, large cage)

Weeks 2 – 4:

  • Apply a hot pack to the hip for 10 to 15 minutes two or three times a day until the swelling has resolved
  • Stop passive range of motion exercise if your pet is using the leg correctly 
  • Schedule a recheck with your doctor ten days after surgery to remove any sutures and evaluate range of motion and percent weight bearing
  • Most patients begin to bear some weight by week 2, but every pet is different and some may take longer.
  • You can allow your cat to move about the house under supervision, otherwise keep confined when you are not at home to discourage jumping and playing. 
  • If your cats limping or pain appears to worsen after running out of pain medication, please call and request a refill for as long as it continues to help.

Weeks 5 – 6: 

  • Schedule another recheck with your doctor six weeks after surgery to evaluate your pet’s progress
  • If your cat is using the leg well, no further restrictions are necessary.

Additional Instructions:

  • Licking at the incision should be discouraged because it may lead to chewing at the sutures or staples causing a wound infection. It may be necessary to use an Elizabethan collar to prevent  licking.
  • Feed your cat its regular diet but reduce it by 10% to allow for reduced activity. 
  • Mild swelling may occur near incision or low on limbs. Your veterinarian should check moderate or severe swelling immediately.

Complications as with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Unlike human patients who can use a sling or crutches, our patients do not know enough to stay off a healing leg so restricted activity is a major responsibility of you, the pet owner. Failure to follow these instructions carefully can lead to delayed healing. The most common complication is delayed healing, where, despite our best efforts individual patients respond slower than others. Rarely, infections can develop and will need to be treated with antibiotics. Notify your veterinarian if you notice any discharge from the incision. 

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call us 406-252-9499.