Recovering from Surgery

Even with medical advances, surgery is still a risk and a difficult time for everyone, and dogs are no different.  Whether it is a small or large operation, your dog will require 24/7 care with attention paid to every detail.  The vet and surgeon will give you specific guidance on after care, what steps you should take and when you should give your dog the medication they require.  They will also advise on when you should take your dog in for a check-up; however, if your vet leaves any questions unanswered don’t be afraid to ask as it is essential you know exactly what to do.

After most operations your dog will be kept in the veterinarians or surgeons for 24 – 48 hours afterwards for observation.  This helps your dog recover from such an invasive procedure and allows the anaesthetic to wear off.  During this period it is likely your dog will be sleeping for a large majority of the time, and they will be in safe place where they are regularly checked.

Once this period is over it is safe for you to take your dog home, but remember they have still been through an ordeal and it will take time to recover from it.  During the recovery stages it is important to care for your dog in the correct way and report any problems to your vet.  Here are some helpful tips to keep your dog comfortable:
  • Ensure your dog’s bed is big enough for them to lie comfortably.  You may have to make a temporary bed so that their wound is not uncomfortable.  Keep the bed in a warm, draught-free place where they can sleep and not be disturbed.
  • Check your dog’s stitches on a daily basis to check they are holding and that the wound appears as it should.  It may weep slightly onto the bandages but any unusual discharge, bleeding or swelling should be reported to your vet immediately.  Your vet will advise you on the best time for the stitches to be removed.
  • You may have to cleanse your dog’s wound and replace the bandages if your vet agrees it is suitable to do so.  Always attempt to keep the bandages dry and check the wound every time you change them.
  • Your dog is unlikely to be able to or want to exercise at first but they will need to go outside to do their business if possible.  You may need to help them do this, so support their weight underneath their stomach with your arms or a makeshift sling.  Keep them on their lead so there is no possibility to over-exercise, and stop them jumping at all costs.
  • The majority of dogs are given an Elizabethan collar to wear after surgery to stop them licking or pawing at their wound.  This should be left on, even at night, until informed otherwise by your vet.  It may hinder them while eating so it can be removed during this period.
  • Your dog shouldn’t be fed before an operation and is unlikely to want to eat straight afterwards.  The anaesthetic will still have an effect so until that is worn off your dog may not want to eat.  However, a small meal can be provided if they are hungry and, as always, clean drinking water should be available.  You must make sure your dog takes their medication and providing it in their food may be the best way.

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