Most pet surgeries are fairly straightforward, but both the prospect of surgery and the prospect of postoperative care can be daunting for pets and their dedicated owners. Because of this, we try very hard to communicate effectively before, during, and after a procedure to hopefully reduce or eliminate any fears or doubts. Of course, there are definite and clear steps that must happen prior to a pet’s surgery, like fasting or bathing, but taking care of a pet after surgery is paramount for successful healing.

The First Few Days

Extra special care and constant diligence is required to care for a pet after surgery. Every pet is unique, and every recovery process is different; however, you can prepare for the first few post-op days by following these tips:

  • Create a safe space away from household clamor. A post-op pet needs a quiet area secluded from other pets and kids to prevent snapping, playing, or licking at wounds. It may be safest to confine your post-op pet at our hospital for up to 2 weeks.
  • Gather your pet’s bedding and place it on the floor in the quiet recovery space. Anesthesia can make them groggy or disoriented for up to a couple days following surgery. Remove all obstacles between your pet and their bathroom (whether it’s a litter box or the back door), and rotate blankets and pillows every day.
  • Know there might be a variety of worrisome symptoms, such as exhaustion, poor coordination, and lack of balance. You might also see inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea, bladder control issues, and panting.
  • As the anesthesia wears off, your pet may have a hard time regulating internal temperature. Make sure the air temperature is warm, but not hot.
  • Your pet after surgery might have to urinate more often due to IV fluids received during the procedure. Take him or her outside or to the litter box every few hours.
  • Always offer fresh, cool water. After surgery, your pet won’t necessarily feel thirsty, but it’s important to keep him or her hydrated. A lack of appetite is normal, but try to offer small amounts of something nutritious within a day of the surgery.

A Pet After Surgery Needs Wound Care

Your pet will heal faster when proper attention is given to wound care. Depending on your pet’s procedure, we will advise you on how to precisely care for his or her wound. It’s vital to follow instructions closely, and call us with any questions or concerns.

Your pet’s wound must be kept dry and absolutely free from licking or pulling on any stitches. While some wound draining is usually normal, pus, white, or yellow fluid can signal an infection. Likewise, bleeding should be addressed promptly.

Other Tips

Keep your pet’s activity levels to a minimum for the first few days. Afterwards, you can allow some calm walking on a leash for short periods of time. Do not allow your pet to play in the rain, and prohibit rolling around in the dirt or mud. Keep your pet’s e-collar or Elizabethan collar/cone of shame on until you’ve been advised to remove it.

If you have additional questions about how to care for your pet after surgery, our veterinarians and staff are always here for you!