Our Boulder and Westminster emergency vets understand how overwhelming it can be to learn that your dog needs surgery. Understanding what to expect from the process can often help to alleviate some of the anxiety, so today we discuss types of dog surgery, how to prepare and how to help your dog recover.

What You Need to Know About Dog Surgery

At Boulder and Northside Emergency Pet Clinics the surgical procedures that we perform on dogs are typically to treat injuries as well as to deal with obstructions or the sudden onset of symptoms related to disease. However, there are actually 2 broad categories of surgery in dogs - emergency (such as those that we typically do) and elective.

Regardless of whether your dog is about to undergo a scheduled elective surgery at their vet's office or an unexpected emergency operation, the process can feel overwhelming for many pet parents. Rest assured that our Boulder and Westminster emergency vets only ever recommend surgery when we believe it's in your dog's best interest.

Our experienced team believes that helping you understand why we are recommending a particular surgery and what the process involves can help you to make informed decisions about your dog's health.

Below are some of the most common elective and emergency surgeries for dogs, as well as how to prepare your canine companion for their upcoming surgical procedure and what to expect from the recovery process. 

Common Elective Dog Surgeries

Some of the most common dog surgeries performed at veterinary clinics across the country include:

  • Spay
  • Neuter
  • Dental extractions
  • Removal of benign growths of the skin

Common Dog Surgeries Performed to Treat Injuries & Heath Issues

Non-elective surgeries are the most common surgical procedures performed at . These urgent surgical interventions include procedures to treat the following:

  • Skin lacerations or abscesses
  • Intestinal obstruction from a foreign body
  • Internal bleeding
  • Torn cruciate or ACL ruptures
  • Fractures
  • Malignant skin tumors
  • Bladder stones/urethral blockages
  • Spleen cancer
  • Cataract surgery
  • C-sections

Often, emergency surgery is performed to save a dog's life, whereas urgent surgeries may be performed to prevent a tumor from spreading, prevent pain, and to restore a dog's mobility.

Whichever surgery your dog needs you may be troubled by a slew of concerns, from potential complications to the outlook for recovery. However, it should be noted that, because veterinary care has advanced to include all modern considerations, the likelihood of your dog experiencing serious complications from most surgery are extremely low.

How To Prepare Your Dog for Surgery

Your dog will be examined by the veterinarian to confirm that they are healthy and ready for surgery. If your pet is overweight, the vet may suggest a weight-loss regimen. Carrying additional weight raises the dangers of general anesthesia and may make it difficult for your pet to move about after surgery.

It is a good idea to have your pet bathed or groomed in the week leading up to surgery so that they are clean and ready for surgery. You'll need to keep the incision dry while it heals, so your dog or cat won't be able to be groomed for a period after surgery. Radiographs and ultrasounds are two tests that your veterinarian may order.

Plan transportation ahead of time, based on the type of surgery your pet will undergo and their expected level of mobility after the procedure. If you are unsure about the best way to transport your pet home after surgery, consult with your veterinarian. If your pet will need crate rest, have an appropriately sized crate ready for when he or she returns home after surgery.

You might be wondering if a dog can have water before surgery or if dogs should eat before surgery. In most cases, you will be asked not to feed or drink anything to your pet after midnight the night before their surgery. If your dog is on medication, consult with your veterinarian about whether you should withhold the medication until after the procedure. Some veterinarians may also request that you bring your pet to the veterinary hospital overnight.

Check in with the staff at reception and ensure that they have your correct phone number so that they can keep you updated while your four-legged friend is in their care. Try to arrive on time and stay calm and relaxed while dropping off your pet. Your veterinarian may recommend additional testing before surgery to ensure that your pet does not face any additional anesthetic risks.

Dog Care After Surgery

Knowing how to care for your dog after they have settled in is critical to assisting them in returning to their routine as soon as possible. Following the post-operative instructions provided by your vet is critical to a safe and successful recovery for your dog. If you do not understand any of the steps suggested, please clarify. Depending on the procedure, you may be referred to a professional veterinary surgeon or the surgery may be performed in-house.

Directly after your pup's surgery surgery, your dog may experience a temporary loss of appetite. Instead, you could serve a half-size portion of a light meal like chicken or rice. Your dog's appetite should return within 24 hours of their operation. If your dog hasn't eaten in more than 48 hours after surgery, contact your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian may prescribe pain relievers or medications for your dog following surgery to help with post-surgery discomfort or pain. Follow these instructions carefully to avoid unnecessary pain while your dog recovers. 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.

Limiting your dog's movements such as as excessive stretching or jumping can interfere with recovery and cause incisions to reopen. For that reason, your vet will likely recommend that you limit your dog's movements. Different operations will require different levels of activity restrictions. Your veterinarian will provide detailed instructions based on your pups unique case. Most dogs will be able to stay inside for a few days, only going outside for bathroom breaks.

If you are unable to provide direct supervision, it may be difficult to prevent your dog from climbing stairs or jumping on furniture. 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.

If your dog requires urgent veterinary care, contact Boulder and Northside Emergency Pet Clinics right away. Our skilled emergency vets are available 24/7 to help your dog when they need us most.