What to Expect When Caring for a Dog After Surgery
It's natural to feel stressed when your dog needs surgery. Of course, you want to make things as comfortable as possible for your furry best friend after the surgery is over. No matter what type of operation your dog is having, there are certain things you can expect and actions you can take to help your dog as he recovers. Remember, comfort and TLC are the keys to your dog's post-surgery recovery. He'll need you to keep a close eye on him and dote on him more while he gets better.
Ask Your Veterinarian Questions
Sometimes your pet will have outpatient surgery and be ready to go home right away. Other times, he may need to stay with the veterinarian a little longer while he recovers from anesthesia. Either way, you'll be given instructions on how to care for him once he comes home. This includes the medication he'll need, if you should take his temperature, any cleaning you may need to do to the surgery site, and other post-surgery care notes.
Read the instructions closely and ask your veterinarian any questions you have. Be sure to ask who to contact if there's an emergency when the office is closed. Don't be shy.
Give Your Dog a Comfy Bed
Most dogs will be extra sleepy for at least 12 to 24 hours after surgery.1 They'll also feel pretty achy. Make sure you have an extra comfy bed that supports your pup while she rests. One great option is the Memory Sleeper. This bed has special memory foam for extra comfort, and the cover is washable. Or you can try the Superior Orthopedic Quilt-Top Bed. This high-density foam bed is built to support the neck, back, and hips with double the density of other foam beds. The quilt top provides an extra layer of comfort that a recovering dog will love. If your dog prefers a bed with sides, consider the Deluxe Ortho Bolster Sleeper made with orthopedic foam.
He May Need a Cone or Collar
Your dog may need a cone or protective E-collar to keep him from licking his surgery site, depending on your veterinarian's recommendations. The cone helps prevent your dog from biting or scratching the surgery site, which could cause an infection or injury.
You May Need to Keep Your Dog Confined
After surgery, most dogs need confinement to limit their movements, and how confined will depend on the surgery.2 For some, being in a small room with their bed and many blankets is enough. (Make sure the room is warm and draft-free.) Don't let your dog jump on furniture or your bed during this time.
Some dogs will need to be confined in their crates to limit their movement even more. If this is your dog's situation, make the crate more comfortable with the Memory Foam Crate Pad. If she's wearing a cone, she may need a larger crate than usual so she can move around a little.
Make Access to Food, Water, and Potty Trips Easy
Place your dog's food and water nearby.3 Keep a big bowl of water near his bed in the small room where he's confined. The K&H CleanFlow Filtered Water Bowl with Reservoir is great for this purpose.
Put the food and water bowls on elevated surfaces if he has trouble bending down. Just remember, your veterinarian might specify a certain amount of time your dog needs to wait before he can eat. Or he may need to be fed just a little bit at first until he's not queasy from the anesthesia.4
In some cases, you may need to keep a potty pad in his room if the veterinarian says he shouldn't go outside right away. If he does go potty outside, keep him on a short leash so he can't run and possibly injure himself.
Spend Extra Time with Your Dog
Your dog will feel confused and uncomfortable after her surgery. Set aside extra time to snuggle with her, pet her, and just dote on your pup. The more reassurance she has from you, the better she'll feel.
Your dog may also need distractions and mental stimulation if she hates being confined. Try chew toys, squeaky toys, and interactive toys. If you don't usually let her in your bedroom at night, you might consider keeping her crate in there while she's recovering.
Each surgery is different, and your post-surgery tasks will vary. Be sure to read all your veterinarian's instructions, follow them closely, and make sure you deliver your care with an extra dose of love and affection.
1. PetMD Editorial. "How to Care for Your Pet After Surgery." PetMD.com, 29 December 2016, https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/how-care-your-pet-after-surgery.
3. AESC. "How to Care for a Pet After Surgery." AESCParker.com, 4 February 2019, https://aescparker.com/how-to-care-for-a-pet-after-surgery/.
4. Animal Hospital of North Asheville. "How to Care for Your Pet After Surgery." AHNA.net, https://www.ahna.net/site/blog-asheville-vet/2020/08/04/care-for-your-pet-after-surgery.