Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

What to Do While Your Dog is Recovering After Surgery

You can play an integral role in helping your dog recover after surgery. By providing attentive, diligent post-op care, you can help your pet return to her daily routine as soon as possible. Today, our Riverside vets share some tips for caring for your dog after a procedure. 

Always Follow Surgery Post-Op Instructions

In the days leading up to and after surgery, both you and your dog will likely be experiencing at least some stress and anxiety. 

That said, knowing how to care for your pooch after they've arrived home is critical to helping them return to their routine as soon as possible. 

Following your dog's procedure, your veterinarian will give clear, detailed instructions about how to care for your canine friend at home. Remembering and applying these will be essential to your pet's safe, successful recovery. If you do not understand any of the steps recommended, make sure to get in touch with your vet. 

Even if you get home and realize you've forgotten how to complete a specific step in the process, feel free to call our office to clarify. Depending on the procedure required, our veterinarians will either perform the surgery in-house or you'll be referred to a professional surgeon near Riverside. 

Whether our veterinarians operate on your pet or need to refer you to a specialist, our team at Riverside Animal Hospital is committed to providing your dog with attentive, high-quality care — and offering advice on at-home measures that can positively impact your pet's recovery, including post-op care. 

Effects of General Anesthetic 

Your veterinarian probably used general anesthetic to keep your dog unconscious and keep them from experiencing pain during surgery. The effects of anesthesia may take some time to wear off after the operation is complete. 

Feeding Your Dog After Surgery

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

Your dog's appetite should return within about 24 hours after surgery. You can then start to gradually reintroduce their normal food. If more than 48 hours has passed and your dog still won't eat after surgery, get in touch with your veterinarian (or veterinary surgeon if you've been referred to one). A dog's loss of appetite and not eating after surgery can indicate infection. 

Managing Your Dog's Pain After Surgery

Your veterinarian will take time after your pet's surgery to explain any medications or pain relievers they've prescribed for your pet so you can prevent infection and manage post-surgery pain or discomfort. 

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.

Set Up a Quiet, Comfortable Space

Your dog will need a quiet space to rest and recover. This spot should have a soft bed with room for them to spread out, away from the hustle of the rest of the household. This soft bed is important as it can help prevent undue pressure on bandaged or sensitive parts of your pet’s body.

Dog Shaking or Coughing After Surgery

Have you noticed your dog shaking or coughing after surgery? If your dog had a tube placed in his or her trachea (windpipe) while receiving anesthesia, 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. The extra love and attention will help.

Restrict your Pet’s Movement

For a specified period after surgery, your vet may recommend limiting your dog’s movement and physical activity. Sudden stretching or jumping can disrupt recovery and cause incisions to reopen.

Depending on the surgery, you may not need to take significant measures such as complete cage or crate rest to confine your dog. Most dogs will be able to stay inside for a few days, making essential trips for bathroom breaks outdoors.

That said, 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 are unable to 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.

Want to learn more about how to help your dog recover safely after surgery? Please contact our Riverside vets today to book an appointment for the procedure today.

New Patients Welcome

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

Contact Us

(951) 683-4200