Caring for Your Pet After Surgery

Updated on June 22, 2019
Liz Hardin profile image

Liz is a licensed veterinary medical technologist. She acquired a B.S. in veterinary medical technology from Lincoln Memorial University.

Most pets are given Elizabethan collars to wear after surgery to avoid licking and chewing at surgical wounds and sutures.
Most pets are given Elizabethan collars to wear after surgery to avoid licking and chewing at surgical wounds and sutures. | Source

Restraint

Please protect your pet when leaving the veterinary clinic by using either a leash or a carrier, whichever is most appropriate for the species and size of your animal. Without this precaution, your pet may get loose and injure itself, either internally or by opening fresh surgical wounds while recovering from surgery. To the best of your ability, do not allow your pet to become overly active and excited when you pick them up, as this increases the risk of injury to surgical wounds.

Food, Water, and Medications

The excitement of returning home after surgery may make your pet want to eat or drink excessively, which may result in vomiting and upset stomach. To avoid this, restrict access to water for an hour or two until your pet has quieted down. Then allow only small amounts of water for the first 8 hours, even if your pet has not vomited or displayed signs of nausea, only resume normal feeding the next day.

If your pet is sent home with medications, give only as directed. If your pet is already on medications before surgery, consult your veterinarian before continuing to give them. Never give your pet human medications such as acetaminophen, aspirin, etc., as they are extremely toxic to animals.

Diet

Feed your pet their regular diet, unless instructed otherwise by your veterinarian or veterinary technician.

Eliminations

Many pets may not have a bowel movement for 24 to 36 hours after surgery. This is normal. Other pets may temporarily have soft stool; this is also normal as long as the issue resolves within 1 to 2 days. Your pet should still urinate normally; alert your veterinarian if your pet has not urinated within a few hours of returning home, as this could be indicative of a serious surgical complication.

Many pets will be groggy and prefer to sleep in the hours following surgery. This is normal.
Many pets will be groggy and prefer to sleep in the hours following surgery. This is normal. | Source

Exercise and Activity

Pets recovering from surgery should have limited exercise. Avoid access to stairs or situations that may lead to injury, and prevent the pet from jumping up and down on furniture. Due to the effects of anesthesia, your pet may be groggy for 12 to 24 hours after surgery. He/she may resume normal exercise and activity in 7 days. Your pet should be confined to indoors and taken outside on a leash only with supervision for eliminations for the first 7 days after surgery.

Sutures

Prevent your pet from licking or chewing at their incision, as this can lead to serious infection, premature suture removal, and/or serious injury to the surgical site. Many pets are given Elizabethan collars to prevent licking and chewing at surgical wounds and sutures. Do not bathe your pet for the first 7 days after surgery to avoid irritation to the surgery site from soap. Check the incision daily for any swelling, redness, or discharge. Some bloody discharge in the first few hours after surgery is normal. If the incision appears irritated, infected, has a foul odor, or has puss-like discharge, contact a veterinarian immediately. Most sutures used today are absorbable and don’t need to be removed, but check with the veterinarian or technician at the time of discharge to see if a recheck visit with suture removal will be needed.

Every pet is different; always consult with your veterinarian about individualized care for your pet.
Every pet is different; always consult with your veterinarian about individualized care for your pet. | Source

Monitor

A decrease in activity or appetite for one or two days may be observed. However, if your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms, please notify a veterinarian:

  1. Loss of appetite for more than 2 days
  2. Refusal to drink water for more than 1 day
  3. Weakness
  4. Depression
  5. Vomiting
  6. Diarrhea

Naturally, every pet is different, and should be treated as an individual during post-op care. If you have any questions or concerns about your pet after surgery, always consult your veterinarian.

Sources

Personal experience as a surgical veterinary technologist.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2018 Liz Hardin

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)