Post-Surgery FAQs

During your pet’s operation a breathing tube is placed in the trachea (windpipe.) This can occasionally cause a mild irritation or a slight cough as an after-effect. If so, it will settle down over the next few days. However, if it persists please contact your veterinarian.
It is normal for your pet to urinate more or less frequently after surgery. You might also notice that your pet seems to have trouble controlling the need to urinate. This is usually temporary. Many pets drink less after returning home, so expect less urination. Some pets may drink more for the first days as some medications may cause your pet to drink and urinate more frequently. Contact your veterinarian immediately if any blood is seen in the urine, if your pet is straining to urinate or if no urine is noted for more than 18-24 hours.
Panting is often seen as a result of anxiety or frustration. In many instances following orthopedic surgery, your pet may not be able to move around as freely as before. This can lead to your pet being upset about its limited mobility and lead to panting.
Do not bathe your pet until you have permission from your veterinarian. Generally you may have to wait up to 8 weeks before bathing your pet. Using baby wipes or waterless shampoo is okay as long as it is not on or near the surgery site.
Most pets will not eat their regular pet food especially if its kibble.

  • Try warming the food slightly in the microwave, which will make the food more aromatic.
  • Offer cooked chicken breast, turkey breast, or lean hamburger
  • Offer a canned/wet food
  • Add beef/chicken broth to your pet’s water bowl to make it more appealing.

FOR CATS: Try offering any type of smelly foods that contain fish or tuna or smelly cat foods. Baby food is also an option in chicken, beef, turkey or veal flavors.

After surgery your pet should be confined to a small carpeted room with no furniture, such as a bathroom, or to a 6 X 6 crate/x-pen. Minimal movement is optimal. If you have hardwood floors in your home, placing area rugs will be very helpful to your pet for traction to go from inside to outside for eliminations.
Please do not allow your pet to lick the incision. Licking can lead to a severe infection, delay the healing process, and potentially cause life-threatening complications. Your pet has the ability to remove the sutures by licking leaving you with an opened wound and an exposed surgery site! Therefore please leave the Elizabeth collar (e-collar) on the head of your pet until your veterinarian gives you permission to remove it.
Many pets will not have a bowel movement the first 4 to 5 days after surgery. Reasons that a pet will not have a bowel movement after surgery include:

  • your pet has been fasted prior to surgery
  • pets do not eat well during hospital stay
  • they are on pain medication that can cause constipation

We recommend giving your dog a few tablespoons of pumpkin if your dog has not had a bowel movement by the 4th day. (Pumpkin can be found at your local grocery store)

Some dogs will require more frequent bathroom breaks than usual, especially if they were given fluids during surgery or hospitalization. When taking your pet outdoors make sure he is on a leash at all times. If you have been instructed to use a sling please make sure you use the sling when taking your pets outside. The only time you can release the sling or move it should be if it gets in the way of your pet’s need to eliminate. Leash control is absolutely necessary! You never know if your dog will want to chase a squirrel or a cat.
It is essential to keep your dog in a confined space even if you think your pet is unhappy or seems to be healing. One of the most difficult aspects of confinement is that pets will frequently feel better long before they are healed. At this point your pet will start being more careless on the operated limb and is more likely to be overactive and cause an injury. To make this time easier for your pet you can keep him occupied with plenty of toys and an occasional low calorie treat. You also may want to keep a radio or television on to provide company when you are not at home. You must adhere strictly to the confinement guidelines and not allow more activity than advised.
During confinement your dog’s food intake may need to be reduced to avoid weight gain. Water consumption should remain normal.
Signs of pain include crying, growling, not wanting to eat, hiding, biting, panting, pacing, restlessness, and being unable to sleep.
A variety of pain medications are available. Your veterinarian will have prescribed the appropriate pain control medication for your pet. If you feel that your pet is in pain and the medications are not helping please do not hesitate to contact us. It is very important to not give any pain medications to your pet that you yourself use. Many human medications, like Tylenol, can be toxic to your pet.

If an orthopedic surgery has been done, cold packing the surgical site may be helpful. A cold pack may be a pack of frozen peas, crushed ice in a Ziploc bag, or a cold gel pack. Make sure to use a thin barrier, such as a towel or washcloth between the skin and the cold pack.

Please do not clean the incision directly or apply hydrogen peroxide or any ointments. There will be some swelling and redness around the incision when your pet returns home. It will gradually resolve. Sometimes after surgery, there is an accumulation of fluid that is produced during the healing process, causing a fluid pocket (seroma). This is a non painful condition, and the body will reabsorb the fluid. However, if there is excessive redness, pain, discharge, odor, or a foul smell originating from the incision, there may be an infection and your pet should be evaluated as soon as possible.