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Dog Surgery Aftercare & What to Expect

Providing proper care for your dog after a surgical procedure can make a huge difference in the recovery process and how quickly your dog heals. Today, our Baton Rouge vets discuss dog surgery aftercare such as managing pain and what to do if your dog won't eat or if they start shaking. 

Follow all aftercare instructions that your vet provides

In the days before and after surgery, both you and your dog will likely be feeling some stress. Ensuring that you understand and are able to provide adequate post-operative care for your dog plays a critical role in the success of their recovery.

Following your dog’s procedure, you’ll receive clear, detailed instructions from your vet about how to care for your pup at home. If you do not understand any of the steps recommended, make sure to clarify.

Whether our veterinarians perform the procedure or need to refer you to a specialist, our team at Kleinpeter Veterinary Hospital in Baton Rouge is committed to providing your dog with attentive, high-quality care — and offering advice on at-home measures that can have a significant positive impact, such as post-op care.

Recovery from general anesthetic

Your vet likely used a general anesthetic to keep your dog unconscious for the duration of the surgical procedure to allow for a seamless surgery without any pain to your dog. The effects of anesthesia may take some time to wear off after the procedure is performed.

How to feed your dog after they have had surgery

Your dog may lack or lose their appetite temporarily after surgery. In addition to nausea, this is a common after-effect of the anesthetic. You might consider offering a half-size portion of a light meal such as chicken or rice. Your dog may find this easier to digest than their regular store-bought food.

After their operation, your dog’s appetite should return within about 24 hours. You can then begin to reintroduce their normal food gradually. 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). Loss of appetite can be a sign of infection.

How to manage 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.

The vet will brief you on the dose needed, how often the medication should be administered and how you can do so safely. To prevent unnecessary pain as your dog recovers and to eliminate risk of side effects, be sure to follow these instructions carefully. If you are unsure of any instructions, ask follow-up questions.

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.

Provide your dog with a quiet space to recover after surgery

It is best if you can provide your dog with a quiet place to recover after surgery where they won't be bothered. This area should ideally provide your dog with a soft bed with room for them to spread out when they need to get away from the noise and movement within the home. This soft bed is important as it can help prevent undue pressure on bandaged or sensitive parts of your pet’s body.

What to do if your dog begins shaking or coughing after surgery

After surgery, your dog may have a slight cough or hoarse bark if they had a tube while under general anesthetic and this may have caused mild irritation and a slight cough. A mild post-surgical cough will usually diminish over the next few days. Contact our hospital if coughing persists or worsens.

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. Your pet will benefit from extra love, attention and cuddles during this stage of the recovery process.

Ensure that your dog stays as calm as possible

While your dog is recovering after surgery it will be recommended that you do what you can to restrict their movements as even the slightest movement has the ability to tear open their wound causing complications.

The amount that you will need to restrict your dog's movement will depend on their surgery and how invasive it was. For larger wounds or most intense surgeries, your dog may require the safety of crate rest during the recovery process. Most dogs will be able to stay inside for a few days, making essential trips for bathroom breaks outdoors.

You may find it difficult to prevent your dog from climbing stairs or jumping on furniture they like to nap on. To prevent him from doing this, if you cannot provide direct supervision you may need to keep your pup in a safe, comfortable room of 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 in need of surgery or do you have questions related to surgery and recovery? Please Contact our Baton Rouge veterinary team to book an appointment today.

New Patients Welcome

Kleinpeter Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Baton Rouge companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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