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If your dog is having surgery, it can be a stressful time not only for them but for you, the owner too. While you’re waiting to receive the all-important phone call to confirm your pet has woken from their operation, you may also be worrying about how to care for your dog after surgery.

When your dog receives treatment, your local vet will always provide after-care advice on how to look after them and their expected recovery time. However, this information can be hard to process if you’ve been nervous about your dog’s operation. If you have any questions about caring for your pet after surgery, don’t hesitate to ask your vet as many questions as required before you leave – they will be more than happy to provide as much information as you need.

Caring for your dog when they arrive home

Once home, you may find that your dog doesn’t seem quite themselves after surgery. Although with modern anaesthetics pets normally recover very quickly, they may seem a bit disorientated and even a little unsure of where they are. More than anything, your dog will likely want to sleep and relax in their comfort zone. Even if your dog is a little disorientated they should always be bright and responsive to you, while being able to settle and get comfortable. If this is not the case then you should always give your local vet a call to discuss.

Dog drinking water - Well Pet Coach
Animal Trust

How do I keep my dog comfortable after surgery?

It’s best to have your dog rest in familiar territory, allowing them to lie comfortably in their bed, keep their body temperature regulated (especially if it’s summer, ensure they can rest in a cool room) while having access to fresh water. If you have young children, keep them away from your dog so as to not aggravate them. It is also likely your vet will also provide a course of pain relief, and other medication, which your dog should take as instructed.

How long will it take my dog to recover from anaesthesia?

The side effects from anaesthesia shouldn’t last long, so if your dog appears overly quiet, vacant or disorientated you should call your vet to discuss.

dog after surgery

Can I leave my dog alone after surgery?

The vets and nurses will check your dog before discharging them to ensure they are happy and safe to receive home care. We recommend they are closely observed during the first 12 hours after surgery. It is not necessary to stay up, or sleep next to your pet and you can leave your dog alone after surgery for short periods as long as they aren’t likely to lick their stitches. In fact, many dogs will appreciate some quiet time and the opportunity to sleep after the anaesthetic. Care should be taken to ensure that your dog does not lick or chew its wounds – many surgeries are now done with absorbable sutures that sit beneath the skin and are less irritating. If your dog starts to lick or chew the wound please contact the surgery for advice and to obtain a buster collar. If you notice any discharge or swelling to a wound, or your dog becomes uncomfortable you should contact the surgery for advice.

Feeding your dog after surgery

It’s best to follow your vet’s advice on how to feed your dog after surgery as they may recommend a specific post-surgery diet. Although in many cases it is fine to feed the dog their normal food, it is recommended to feed smaller meals more often for 24 hours post anaesthetic.

Exercising your dog after surgery

Exercising your dog after surgery will depend on the type of surgery they’ve had. Recovery from a spay or neuter can be quicker than if your dog has received orthopaedic treatment. Generally speaking, you should keep them rested for a few days after surgery, making sure they don’t make any extended movements like jumping onto a sofa, up the stairs, into the car, or onto the bed (if they’re allowed!). Off lead exercise usually needs to be avoided until the dog’s wounds have fully healed.

Some dogs may be naturally energetic in their nature, which needs to be carefully managed to ensure that it does not impede their rate of recovery. If you’re having trouble keeping your dog still you may have to restrict them by using a crate to ensure they do not overdo themselves and cause injury. It’s not ideal and can be a bit unmoving to have to do this, but it’s the best way to prevent them from hurting themselves further and to ensure they’re on the right path to a successful recovery. Please always discuss with your vet what is the best way to ensure your dog gets the controlled recovery it needs.

What happens if my dog has a complication post surgery?

Proper care after surgery can help minimise the risks of complications, but occasional complications are a fact of surgical procedures – it doesn’t mean someone’s at fault but it does mean further treatment may be required. We understand that the cost of this can be worrying at a time when everyone is focused is on getting your pet better.

That’s why if your dog has been operated on at Animal Trust, we’ll perform one further corrective surgery, and provide the medication and laboratory tests needed to treat the complication. We make a commitment of charging no more than £100 for this however much treatment we provide. You can read more about our help with surgical pet complications here.

Additional treatment for your dog after recovery

During the recovery, your dog will often need regular checkups with a vet or nurse. At Animal Trust our consultations are free, so you are not charged for rechecks postoperatively. The vet may also recommend additional therapies such as physio or hydrotherapy. This kind of treatment can help strengthen your dog’s joints and muscles to heal properly and prevent any further problems from developing in the future.

As with all Animal Trust surgeries, rechecks are always free so you can visit your local surgery at any stage of your dog’s recovery. For more information about looking after your dog post-surgery, contact your local Animal Trust clinic.

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