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How to Care for Your Pet After Surgery

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Surgery can be stressful for humans, just as it can be for your pets. You can’t communicate to your four-legged friend and tell them what is going on, and you need to keep a close eye on them while they are recovering.

As well as the basics the day after the surgery, there are some long-term tips to make sure your dog heals after surgery.

Immediate Post-Surgery Care for Pets

long haired chihuahua wearing a cone

Immediately, when your pet returns to you, they can seem out of sorts. They may not be themselves and they could be a bit disorientated. If you do have concerns about behavior then it is a good idea to discuss this with your vet, but don’t expect a dog or cat to be their usual self. Surgery is a big undertaking, and on top of that, they may be on some medication.

Ensure your pet is responsive and can have quiet access to a space where they feel safe. It is likely that all they will want to do is curl up and sleep somewhere comfortable.

Immediately after surgery, there is also a case for the “cone of shame” as some people call it. It is imperative that you keep your pet away from any wound and stop them from licking it or trying to unpick any stitches. This could be a natural instinct for pets, so it is very important that you use some sort of collar or cone to keep them away. Your vet should be able to supply this.

Cathy’s Note: I got Ziggy this “cone of shame” just this week for his upcoming surgery because it’s more comfortable than the typical cone and it is quite cute too.

Post-Surgery Home Care for Pets

Much of the post-surgery home care is around observation. You need to make sure you just keep an eye on your pet and their behavior.

Keeping your pet confined is also a good idea in a lot of scenarios. It makes it easier to keep an eye on them and makes sure they don’t do further damage. You don’t want to let a cat roam where you can’t see them, or let a dog go for walks and runs that could open up wounds.

You need to always make sure you follow the vet’s instructions. Every surgery is slightly different, so you need to do as they request when it comes to keeping your pet in the best of health post-surgery. There may be steps you need to follow such as dressing a wound, though the vet will always tell you about these upon discharge.

On top of this, you may have to monitor medication. For example, your pet might need you to give them medication once a day. This is not like giving it to a human. Often, you will need to disguise the medication within food or a tasty treat.

You may also have to keep a very close eye on your pet’s diet. They may not need as much food, but they need to eat, and they need nutrition.

Incision Heal and Infection

If there has been an incision during surgery you must keep an eye on this. Infections can be very risky and cause huge issues for your pet. It can even be fatal in extreme circumstances. Keeping the wound clean and allowing it to heal is vital.

Follow-Up Appointment

woman and male veterinarian checking brown and white chihuahua

Your vet should have given you an appointment to follow up on the surgery. This can form an important part of canine rehabilitation. It depends on the surgery your dog has had, but this could be 4-6 weeks after the initial surgery. In the meantime, it is up to you to keep a close eye on your pet.

Keeping Your Pet Happy During Recovery

Your pet may be a bit less mobile, and they may not seem to be their usual self. How can you keep them happy as they recover?

Make sure your pet still gets to socialize. If you have a dog, you may have to take them out even if they can’t walk around on their own.

Give your pet toys that aren’t too vigorous, but provide plenty of mental stimulation, and spend time with them whenever you can. If a pet is confined then they might end up suffering in their mental state, as they start out on the road to recovery.

paw print graphic in purple and turquoise

Do you have any tips about caring for your dog after surgery? We’d love to hear your experience so share in the comments!


Cathy Kennedy

Saturday 15th of January 2022

Thank you for this precious newsletter...praying for very fast recovery for Little Ziggy!♥️

Cathy Kennedy

Wednesday 19th of January 2022

@Cathy,I bet Ziggy is realy cute! (:


Saturday 15th of January 2022

You're welcome Cathy! Ziggy is okay, he's getting neutered on Thursday.