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How to Care for a Dog After Surgery

You can play an important role in assisting your dog's full recovery after surgery. They must receive attentive, diligent post-op care to return to their daily routine as soon as possible. Today, our Boulder County veterinarians provide some advice on 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, your vet will provide you with clear, detailed instructions on how to care for your pup at home. These must be followed and obeyed to have a safe and successful recovery. If you don't understand any of the steps suggested, make sure to ask for clarification.

Even if you get home and realize you've forgotten how to do a specific step in your vet's instructions, you can call our office to double-check. Depending on the procedure, the surgery will be performed in-house or referred to a professional veterinary surgeon near Boulder County.

Whether our veterinarians perform the procedure or refer you to a specialist, our team at Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital in Boulder County 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.

Effects of General Anesthetic

Your veterinarian 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.

Your dog's appetite should return within 24 hours of its operation. You can then gradually reintroduce their regular food. If your dog hasn't eaten in more than 48 hours after surgery, contact your veterinarian (or a vet surgeon if you've been referred to one). Appetite loss can be a sign of infection.

Managing Your Dog’s Pain After Surgery

Following surgery, your veterinarian will explain any pain relievers or medications that will be prescribed for your pet so that 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. Follow these instructions carefully to avoid unnecessary pain in your dog's recovery and to reduce the risk of side effects. If you are unsure about any instructions, ask clarifying questions.

Some dogs may be anxious or high-strung after surgery. If this is the case with your dog, your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication or sedatives to help your pet stay calm while healing.

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

Set Up a Quiet, Comfortable Space

Your dog will require a quiet environment in which 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 will usually go away within a few days. If your coughing persists or worsens, please contact our hospital.

If a dog shakes after surgery, it is usually not due to a cold or pain, but rather to anesthesia or pain control medication side effects. Allow your pet to eat small amounts of food regularly, then hold them in your lap or sit next to them while speaking to them and giving them lots of reassuring pets. The extra love and attention will be beneficial.

Restrict your Pet’s Movement

Your veterinarian may advise you to restrict your dog's movement and physical activity for some time following surgery. Excessive stretching or jumping can interfere with recovery and cause incisions to reopen.

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

However, you may find it difficult to keep 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 keep your pup in a safe, comfortable room of the house to prevent him from doing so.

If your dog is 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 the recovery process 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 Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment for the procedure today. 

New Patients Welcome

Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Boulder County companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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