How Can I Help My Dog Recover After Surgery?

You can play an important role in ensuring that your dog recovers completely after surgery. Attendant, diligent post-operative care is critical in assisting them in returning to their daily routine as quickly as possible. Our Edgewater veterinarians will talk about how to care for your dog after surgery today.

Always Follow Surgery Post-Op Instructions

In the days before and after surgery, both you and your dog will likely be feeling some stress. However, understanding how to care for your canine companion after they settle in at home is critical to helping them get back to their routine as soon as possible.

Following your dog’s procedure, you’ll receive clear, detailed instructions from your vet about how to care for your pup at home. Heeding these and complying with them will be vital to a safe, successful recovery. If you do not understand any of the steps recommended, make sure to clarify.

Even if you arrive home and realize you’ve forgotten how to complete a specific step in your vet’s instructions, you can call our office to verify. Depending on the procedure required, the surgery will either be performed in-house or you’ll be referred to a professional veterinary surgeon near Edgewater.

Our team at Providence South Animal Hospital in Edgewater is dedicated to providing your dog with attentive, high-quality care — as well as advice on at-home measures that can have a significant positive impact, such as post-op care — whether our veterinarians perform the procedure themselves or refer you to a specialist.

Effects of General Anesthetic

Your vet most likely used a general anesthetic to keep your dog unconscious and pain-free during surgery. After the procedure, the effects of anesthesia may take some time to wear off.

Feeding Your Dog After Surgery

Your dog may experience a temporary loss of appetite after surgery. Along with nausea, this is a common side effect of the anesthetic. Serve a half-size portion of a light meal, such as chicken or rice. This may be easier to digest for your dog than store-bought food.

After their operation, your dog’s appetite should return within about 24 hours. You can then begin to gradually reintroduce their normal food. If it’s been more than 48 hours and your dog still won’t eat after surgery, contact your veterinarian (or vet surgeon if you’ve been referred to one). Your dog not eating after surgery, or having a loss of appetite can be a sign of infection.

Managing Your Dog’s Pain After Surgery

Following surgery, your veterinarian will take time to explain any pain relievers or medications they need to prescribe for your pet so you can prevent infection and manage post-surgery discomfort or pain.

The veterinarian will explain the proper dosage, how often the medication should be given, and how to administer it safely. Follow these instructions carefully to avoid unnecessary pain and side effects while your dog recovers. Ask clarifying questions if you have any doubts about the instructions.

Some dogs may be high-strung or experience anxiety post-surgery. If this is the case for your pooch, your vet may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication or sedatives to help your pet remain calm while they heal.

A word of caution: Never give your dog human medications without consulting your veterinarian first. While medications for people help us feel better, they are dangerous for our dogs and other pets.

Set Up a Quiet, Comfortable Space

Your dog will need a calm environment to rest and recover. This location should have a soft bed with plenty of room for them to spread out, away from the rest of the household's chaos. This soft bed is necessary because it can relieve pressure on your pet's bandaged or sensitive areas.

Dog Shaking or Coughing After Surgery

Do you notice your dog shaking or coughing after surgery? Anesthesia and the placement of a tube in your dog's trachea (windpipe) may have caused mild irritation and a slight cough. A mild post-surgical cough usually disappears after a few days. Please contact our hospital if your coughing persists or worsens.

Typically, if a dog is shaking after surgery, this won’t be due to a cold or pain but after-effects from anesthesia or pain control medication. Have your pet frequently eat small amounts of food, then hold them in your lap or sit next to them while speaking to them and giving lots of reassuring pets. The extra love and attention will help.

Restrict your Pet’s Movement

For a specified period after surgery, your vet may recommend limiting your dog’s movement and physical activity. Sudden stretching or jumping can disrupt recovery and cause incisions to reopen.

Depending on the surgery, you may not need to take drastic measures to confine your dogs, such as a complete cage or crate rest. Most dogs will be able to stay inside for a few days, with only occasional trips outside for bathroom breaks.

However, it may be difficult to prevent your dog from climbing stairs or jumping on furniture where they like to nap. If you are unable to provide direct supervision, you may need to confine your dog to a safe, comfortable room in the house.

If your dog happens to be recovering from orthopedic surgery, he or she may need to be confined to a laundry-sized or smaller pen with gradually increasing amounts of exercise as recovery progresses.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Looking for more information about how to help your dog quickly and safely recover after surgery? Don't hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team at Animal General to schedule an appointment for the procedure today.