After your dog has had surgery, you can play a pivotal role in helping them fully recover. Attentive, diligent post-op care is essential to help them return to their daily routine as soon as possible. Today, our O’Fallon vets share some tips for how to care for your dog after surgery.

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.

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

Following surgery, your dog may experience a temporary loss of appetite. This is a common side effect of the anesthetic, in addition to nausea. Consider serving a half-size portion of a light meal like chicken or rice. This may be easier for your dog to digest than regular 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). A dog not eating after surgery 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 instruct you on the appropriate dosage, how frequently the medication should be administered, and how to do so safely. To avoid unnecessary pain and side effects while your dog recovers, make sure to carefully follow these instructions. If you are unsure about any instructions, ask clarifying questions.

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 require a quiet location to rest and recover. This location should have a soft bed with plenty of space for them to spread out, away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the household. This soft bed is important because it can relieve pressure on bandaged or sensitive areas of your pet's body.

Dog Shaking or Coughing After Surgery

Have you noticed your dog trembling or coughing following surgery? If your dog received anesthesia and had a tube placed in his or her trachea (windpipe), this may have caused mild irritation and a slight cough. A mild post-surgical cough usually goes away within a few days. If the coughing continues or worsens, please contact our hospital.

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 significant measures such as a complete cage or crate rest to confine your dog. Most dogs will be able to stay inside for a few days, making essential trips for bathroom breaks outdoors.

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? Please contact our friendly team at Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment for the procedure today.