Surgery & Recovery Hub
At Animal Surgical & Orthopedic Center, we are here for you and your pet and understand you might have questions about what to expect after their surgery. These FAQs may help you better prepare for your pet’s home care and recovery. If you have additional questions that aren’t answered below, please send your Licensed Veterinary Technician any questions, concerns, photos, or videos at the after-hours and weekend nurse e-mail:
After-Hours e-mails are monitored:
- Mon thru Thursday, 6 pm-7 am
- Friday, 6 pm-8 pm
- Weekends & Holidays, 9 am-3 pm
Click on the topics below for more detailed information.
What will the recovery period be like?
In most cases, your pet will be hospitalized for one night after surgery. Some patients may require a longer stay based on the type of surgery and your pet’s condition post-op.
The recovery period at home will depend greatly on the type of procedure performed. When your pet is discharged from the hospital, one of our veterinary technicians will go through detailed discharge instructions that are specific to your pet.
In general, all surgical patients require some level of confinement and at least two weeks of rest at home before resuming any activity beyond short potty walks. Orthopedic cases may require six weeks to four months before returning to full activity.
How should I prepare for my dog’s confinement at home after surgery?
A: Being prepared before bringing your pet home after surgery will save you some stress and worry.
Please read the articles below on how to best get ready.
How should I prepare for my cat’s confinement at home after surgery?
A: Being prepared before bringing your cat home after surgery will save you some stress and worry.
Please read the article below on how to best get ready.
Which medications might be recommended to help manage my pet’s pain?
Rimadyl (Carprofen/Novox/Vetprofen/Truprofen), Galliprant, Metacam (Meloxicam), Deramaxx, and Previcox are all NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories) that are often prescribed at discharge.
These are all effective medications for pain control and are usually given once or twice per day with a meal (Galliprant is the exception and can be given with or without a meal). Only one type of NSAID should be given at a time to reduce the chances of side effects. Stop giving this medication and call us if any vomiting, diarrhea/loose stool, or loss of appetite occurs.
Gabapentin is effective for pain control and works well in combination with NSAIDs and other pain meds. Sedation is a common side effect. If you feel that your pet is overly sedated, you should reduce the dose or frequency. Call or e-mail us to discuss ways to maintain effective pain control.
Trazodone is a sedative that can help reduce anxiety and keep your pet calm. It will not help with pain control. Do not give if your pet is already sedate from other medications (like Gabapentin) or currently taking other sedatives (Acepromazine), unless advised by us or your own veterinarian.
Q: How do I know if my pet is in pain after their surgery?
The most common signs of pain to watch for include:
- Excessive panting
- Leg or body trembling
- Acute awareness or licking at surgery site
- Restlessness (unable to get comfortable in their favorite spot)
- Whining or grunting
- Increased heart rate at rest
- Reluctance to let you touch the surgical area
If your pet has had surgery on a hindlimb, it is often more comfortable for them to lie with this leg on the downside.
What are the instructions for my pet’s Fentanyl Patch?
Please read this article: Fentanyl Transdermal Patch Instructions
What if my pet doesn’t like the e-collar?
The most common postoperative complication is an infection due to a pet licking at the incision. An infection can prolong the healing time after surgery, by up to 6 months or more, and has the potential to ruin the surgical repair.
For the best chance at complete recovery post-surgery, your pet should always wear the e-collar, especially when you are not directly watching them (asleep, out of the room). For incisions that are not covered (with a splint or bandage), you may remove the e-collar after two weeks when the skin is healed, so long as your pet is not licking at the area.
What’s the best way to apply an ice pack?
Icing the leg helps to numb the area and decrease inflammation. Watch this video to see the proper way to apply an ice pack.
Please read this article: Ice Packing Instructions
What should I do if my dog or cat won’t eat?
Dogs and cats may stop eating for a variety of reasons.
Medications, pain or stress can alter your pet’s desire to eat or drink. Please call us if you have concerns or if there is a unexpected change in your pet’s eating or drinking habits after surgery.
My pet has not defecated yet, when should I be concerned?
Some pain medications and changes in eating habits may interrupt normal bowel movements.
You may add canned pumpkin, at 1 TBS per 20lbs of bodyweight (NOTE: Not pumpkin pie mix!), or cooked sweet potato to your pet’s regular diet until they have a bowel movement.
Most pets will resume normal BMs 2-4 days post-surgery. For cats, adding 1/8 TSP of OTC MiraLAX per feeding can help with constipation.
When should my pet start bearing weight on the surgical leg?
The sooner the better. Disuse of the leg will cause more muscle atrophy, so encouraging gentle toe touching within the first few days is encouraged. Please refer to your discharge instructions for your pet’s exercise/walk schedule.
For most elective orthopedic surgeries, toe touching and weight-bearing on the surgical leg should happen by the two-week recheck.
When can my pet go for walks or no longer be in confinement?
Your veterinary surgeon has written the ideal activity timeline for your pet in your discharge instructions.
However, most pets will require two weeks of strict confinement, followed by confinement with gradually increased controlled leashed walks. If your pet needs to go up or down more than a few stairs, you may use a towel as a sling to assist.
It is crucial that your pet not engage in ANY:
- Jumping (especially on/off furniture)
until your pet has been cleared for off-leash activities. This typically occurs around 12 weeks post-surgery.
My post-op dog is bored! What can I do?
Is your dog going stir-crazy while under post-op exercise restrictions? Check out our article, Boredom Busters for Dogs Recovering From Surgery for some great ideas to put a little excitement back in his or her life.