How To Take Care Of Your Dog After Surgery, According To A Vet

Your dog will have the easiest recovery ever.

dog after surgery

Finding out your dog needs surgery is stressful enough. And even after the procedure’s over, you want to make sure your dog has a quick and smooth recovery.

But if you’re not sure what to do to help your dog after surgery, we’ve got you covered.

We spoke with Dr. Cristina Bustamante, an associate veterinarian with Caring Hands Animal Hospital in Florida and founder of Dr. B. Vet, to answer all those burning questions about your dog’s post-op care.

How do I know what to do for my dog after surgery?

Following the post-surgery instructions from your vet is the most important part of taking care of your dog after surgery.

“Each surgery is different, and the most important advice is to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations,” Dr. Bustamante told The Dodo. “Ask them if they can give you written instructions and take a checklist of questions for when you pick up your pet. Usually complications arise because pet parents do not follow instructions.”

What can I give my dog to eat after surgery?

If your dog has oral, stomach or intestinal surgery, your vet may instruct you to feed him a special diet post-op. But for the most part, you should just give your dog his usual food after surgery.

“Changing their diet can cause an upset stomach,” Dr. Bustamante said.

How to spot signs of infection after your dog’s surgery

Infections are pretty common after dog surgery, which is why it’s so important to follow your vet’s recommendation if they suggest making your pup wear a cone.

“Usually this occurs after pet owners remove the Elizabethan collar without their veterinarian’s approval,” Dr. Bustamante said. “The pet will lick the incision, which gives bacteria and moisture to the site.”

Signs of infection include:

  • Lethargy
  • Inappetence
  • Redness
  • Discharge from the incision
  • Fever

If your dog has an infection, reach out to your vet. They should be able to prescribe medicine and specific instructions to help you clear it up.

How to restrict your dog's activity after surgery

When your dog has surgery, it’s important he gets plenty of rest afterwards. This means keeping any physical activity to a minimum so he can heal properly.

“Most surgeries require exercise restriction, short walks and no rough playing or running,” Dr. Bustamante said. “Orthopedic surgeries usually require very strict kennel rest.”

If your dog is particularly hyper, your vet may prescribe calming medication to get him to sit still.

How long after surgery can I bathe my dog?

The amount of time you should wait to bathe your dog after surgery may depend on the procedure. If your dog has a routine surgery, like a spay or neuter operation, he should be good to go after 10 days, for example.

“It is important to wait for the surgical incision to be completely healed, therefore preventing infections and incision problems,” Dr. Bustamante said.

Why is my dog shaking after surgery?

When a dog’s shaking, it’s often because he’s cold, anxious or in pain.

“If your dog is shaking, then have him evaluated by your veterinarian for them to assess pain and prescribe medications,” Dr. Bustamante said.

Why is my dog whining after surgery?

It’s actually somewhat normal if your dog’s whining immediately after surgery.

”The day of surgery, your pet might make whining noises since they still have anesthetics in their system,” Dr. Bustamante said.

But if the whining happens pretty frequently after that, you should take a trip to your vet. They should be able to figure out whether it’s post-op pain that’s making your dog whine or if it’s something else entirely.

Why is my dog panting after surgery?

If your dog’s panting after his surgery, it could mean he’s struggling with things like:

So if you catch your dog panting a lot after surgery, give your vet a call to find out what’s bothering him and what you can do to help.

There are a lot of things to remember when it comes to taking care of your dog after surgery. Luckily, your vet should provide you with specific aftercare instructions that’ll help your dog make a quick and easy recovery.

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