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How to Care for Your Pet After Surgery

Taking care of a pet can be rewarding and sometimes challenging, especially after surgery. No matter the type of surgery that your pet undergoes, it is important to follow the proper post-op instructions provided by your veterinarian as this will help your pet get back to normal as quickly as possible! Additionally, each pet’s recovery period is different and the post-op instructions can vary. If needed, take notes or ask your veterinarian for a specific list of instructions.  

That being said, this blog post will discuss useful tips and tricks for getting your pet back on track after surgery. 

Basic Post-Op Tips & Tricks 


More than likely, if your pet has had any sort of surgery, some sort of anesthesia and pain management drugs were used. Just like humans, these drugs may affect individual animals differently; it may take a while for the medicine to wear off. Some of the lingering effects can include sleepiness or balance issues. It is usually best to let them sleep it off and keep them in a quiet, safe place. 

Limit Your Pets' movement

Second, it is important to give your pet enough time to heal once they return home. Limiting the amount of movement your pet has is essential to prevent infections or complications. Confining your pet is one of the best ways to do this. With confinement, it does not necessarily mean your pet needs to be in their crate 24/7, but it is important to limit them to one room with nothing to climb or jump on, preferably one where it is safe and comfortable for them. Also, it should be a room where you can leave them unsupervised if you need to leave them alone for any reason. Additionally, it is important to keep your pet indoors with only essential trips outside on a leash for bathroom breaks.

Give Your Pet Food and WATER

Fourth, when your pet is finally home from surgery, make sure you give them food and water, unless otherwise instructed by your veterinarian. Your pet may feel a little out of it due to the anesthesia, but it is important that they remain well hydrated. Also, when it is time for your pet to eat, we recommend offering them a lighter meal (½ or ¼ of what they would normally eat) for the first meal or so after surgery. Your pet might have a reduced appetite for a while after surgery. However, if they aren’t eating normally within 48 hours of surgery, contact your veterinarian. This could possibly indicate infection or pain. 


The main thing here is to keep the incision clean and dry. You also need to prevent your pet from licking or biting it. This can sometimes be challenging, but an e-collar, or Elizabethan collar, is effective at keeping your pet from getting to the incision. Alternatively, you can use a donut collar or post-surgery jumpsuit or shirt.

Depending on the type of surgery, there may be stitches that need to be removed 10-14 days after surgery by your veterinarian. However, some vets will use special stitches that dissolve as the wound heals, so your veterinarian won’t need to remove them. Your vet will discuss which form of stitches they used and how to care for them.

Home Care

The main thing to remember after surgery is to keep your pet comfortable while recovering at home. Make sure to provide them with a quiet and comfortable place to sleep and rest, away from other pets and children.
Most surgeries won’t require your pet to be confined to a crate for an extended period of time, as long as they aren’t running around and jumping. If your pet does try to jump or go up the stairs, it might be best to keep them in a safe room where they won’t hurt themselves.


Animal Hospital of North Asheville
Pet MD 


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