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Dog Surgery Recovery: How to Care for a Dog After Surgery

May 26, 2015

Dog surgery recovery can be a long and arduous process. How you care for your dog post-surgery is crucial in terms of safety, comfort and proper recuperation. Regardless of the type surgery, whether it is knee surgery, abdominal surgery, or even a spay/neuter, post surgery care for dogs will be important for a full recovery. Follow these tips to help your dog have a happy and healthy recovery and get back on his paws. 

1. CAST/BANDAGE CARE

Keep your dog's cast/bandage dry and clean. This will help avoid potential infection to the incision, longer recovery time, and other complications. Visit your veterinarian if you notice any of following:

  • the bandage becomes wet or soiled
  • there are strange odors coming from the cast
  • cast/bandage appears to be slipping from its original position

2. RESTRICT YOUR DOG'S ACTIVITY

One of the most important things to do for your dog after surgery is to restrict movement to promote healing. 

  • Avoid allowing your dog to run, jump, or rough-house with other dogs.
  • Use a child or dog gate to prevent your dog from using the stairs or any other areas where they shouldn’t be.
  • Exercise helps to keep muscle mass, but it should be very limited during recovery. Only exercise your dog when your veterinarian tells you it's OK. 

3. GIVE MEDICATION AS INSTRUCTED

Make sure that you provide the full-course of medication prescribed (whether it is an antibiotic or pain-killer) and make sure that your dog does not spit them out. Antibiotics are especially important because incisions and broken bones make dogs susceptible to infection. Check out the video below for tips on how to get your dog to take a pill.

You can read more about medications for dogs on our blog "Dog Surgery Recovery: A Guide to Medication and Supplements for Dogs."  

4. GO TO ALL CHECKUPS

Be sure to go to the follow-up visits scheduled by your veterinarian. It is at these visits that your veterinarian will check the bandages and wound for infection (a common problem in dogs post-surgery), take x-rays to see whether your dog is healing at an appropriate rate, and examine whether the plates, implants, screws or even bones have shifted because of excessive movement. 

5. FOLLOW FEEDING PROCEDURES 

If your pet had a minor procedure involving local anesthesia, a general rule of thumb is that they may resume their normal meal schedule once home. If, however, your pet had a general anesthetic procedure on the same day that he is returning home, it probably would be wise to offer just a small snack several hours and very limited amounts of water after first returning home. If your dog still won't eat you can watch our video on How to Get Your Dog to Eat After Surgery for more helpful tips. You can also read our blog 7 Ways to Help a Dog Not Eating After Surgery for more information. 

Don't Won't Eat After Surgery

 6. CONSIDER ADDING SUPPLEMENTS

bone and joint supplement for dogs

Dogs can benefit from additional nutrition during recovery. Particularly when it comes to orthopedic surgery, it's a good idea to consider an all natural bone and joint supplement to reinforce their skeletal system.

As far as supplement options go, consider discussing Boneo Canine with your veterinarian. Do your research on the types of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and nutrients that can support your dog's recovery.

We have listed some of the supplements you could give your dog in our blog post A Guide to Medication and Supplements. Before giving your dog any supplements after surgery, be sure to check with your veterinarian about what's best for your dog. 

7. COMFORT AND SAFETY

Many dogs that undergo surgery under anesthesia experience hypothermia. When you bring your dog home, help bring up his body temperature, wrap him in a blanket or use heating pad on a low temperature. Never leave a dog unattended on a heating bad as this can cause burns. 

How to Take Care of Your Dog after Surgery

About the Author

Bevi Edlund, Blog Editor

Hi, I'm Bevi Edlund. I'm a graduate of communications and journalism from Cal State University, Fullerton. I am also an animal rights activist and a huge dog lover! I think there is nothing more comforting than coming home after a long day than to your furry best friend. Here at Bio-Rep Animal Health, I'll be in charge of writing posts about lifestyle, nutrition and connecting with all of our readers.