You can play an important role in assisting your dog's full recovery after surgery. To help them return to their daily routine as soon as possible, attentive, diligent post-op care is essential. Today, our Boulder and Westminster veterinarians will discuss caring for your dog after surgery.

Taking Care of Your Dog After Surgery

Below, we'll discuss how you can take care of your dog following 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.

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.

Our staff at Boulder and Northside Emergency Pet Clinics is committed to giving your dog attentive, high-quality care — as well as guidance on at-home measures that can have a significant positive impact, like 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

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). 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.

Your pet's veterinarian will give you instructions on the proper medication dosage, frequency, and safe administration methods. Make sure to closely adhere to these instructions to prevent unnecessary discomfort and side effects while your dog heals. Ask for clarification if you have any questions about any 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.

How to Tell if Your Dog is in Pain

After surgery, it can be difficult to determine if a dog is in pain since they may not exhibit obvious signs. Look for subtle cues such as changes in behavior, decreased appetite, restlessness, or excessive panting. Additionally, monitor for any signs of discomfort, such as whining, whimpering, or guarding the surgical site. If you suspect your dog is in pain, consult with your veterinarian for appropriate pain management options.

Dog Shaking or Coughing After Surgery

Have you seen your dog coughing or trembling after surgery? Your dog may have developed a slight cough and mild irritation if a tube was inserted into the trachea (windpipe) while under anesthesia. A minor post-operative cough typically disappears within a few days. Please get in touch with our hospital if your coughing continues or gets worse.

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.

Making Your Dog Comfortable

Making your dog comfortable can help speed up the recovery process. Below, we will give you some tips on how to do this.

Set Up a Quiet, Comfortable Space

Your dog requires a peaceful environment to rest and recover. This area, away from the chaos of the rest of the house, should have a soft bed and plenty of space for them to spread out. This soft bed is essential because it relieves pressure on your pet's sensitive or bandaged areas.

Restrict your Pet’s Movement

Your veterinarian may advise you to limit your dog's movement and physical activity for a set period of time following surgery. Sudden stretching or jumping can impede healing and cause incisions to reopen.

Depending on the procedure, you might not need to confine your dog using significant measures like a full cage or crate rest. Most dogs will be able to spend a few days inside while still making necessary 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.

Is your pet having an emergency? Or they showing signs if significant pain following a planned surgery? Don't hesitate to get in touch with our team at . We have the tools and experience needed to address your pet's issue.