Medications for your pet after surgery

What medications will my pet be on after an orthopedic surgery?  

Medications for your pet after surgery

Following orthopedic surgery, there are two things to monitor that will help your pet have the best possible recovery and long-term outcomes: their discomfort and keeping their activity restricted while they heal.  

Upon discharge, your pet will likely be sent home with several medications for pain relief and to help keep your pet sedated. These medications will aid in the recovery process, help to reduce inflammation, and keep your pet from overdoing any activity.  

Your veterinary technician or surgeon will explain the medications being sent home with your pet, but it can be overwhelming and confusing to remember the purpose of each medication and what ones can be taken together.  

In this blog, we will review the common medications prescribed after a surgical discharge, their uses, and things to watch out for. 

Pain medications 

Your pet will likely at times have some discomfort when they first get home, and this is normal. After all, we are also sore and tender after surgery!  

Your surgeon might prescribe a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) for your pet. Veterinary specific NSAIDs are one of the most widely used pain medications for pets. They have been used with positive results for many years, and multiple clinical studies have found NSAIDs to be both safe and effective. There are numerous NSAIDs available today, all of which have comparable levels of safety and efficacy.  

Some dogs tolerate one type of NSAID better than others, so if your dog has a negative reaction to the medication sent home with them, your veterinarian or surgeon can prescribe a different one to try.  

Some common NSAIDs that might be prescribed for your pet post-surgery include:  

  • Rimadyl (also known as Carprofen/Novox/Vetprofen/Truprofen) 
  • Galliprant 
  • Metacam (also known as Meloxicam) 
  • Deramaxx 
  • Previcox  

**NEVER GIVE human over-the-counter NSAIDs to your pet.** 

These are all effective medications for pain control and are usually given once or twice per day with a meal to reduce any gastrointestinal upset. Galliprant is the exception and can be given with or without a meal.   

Your discharge instructions will explain the proper dosage and frequency (half tablet or full, once or twice per day) for your pet. Stop giving this medication and call us if any vomiting, diarrhea/loose stool, or loss of appetite occurs with these medications.  

NOTE: Do NOT combine NSAIDs with aspirin, corticosteroids, or natural products containing ingredients such as willow bark or meadowsweet.  

Your surgeon might also prescribe Gabapentin, an effective pain medication that can be used in combination with NSAIDs and other pain meds for better pain management. Gabapentin often makes pets sedated, which helps your pet to rest and not be tempted to play.  

If you feel that your pet is overly sedated, reduce the dose or frequency of the Gabapentin. Call or e-mail us to discuss other options for effective pain control. 


One of the biggest challenges post-surgery is keeping your pet confined and following the activity restrictions for the entire recovery period, which is often 8-12 weeks. This long period of restriction is critical for proper healing and to allow for the best possible outcomes. Keeping pets sedated helps keep them calm and not feeling bored by their confinement.  

That is why your surgeon might send you home with Trazodone, a serotonin antagonist/reuptake inhibitor (SARI) antidepressant and sedative. It is used in pets with anxiety, but studies have found that adding it as part of a post-orthopedic surgery treatment plan enhances calm behavior and improves outcomes. It also is well-tolerated and can be used safely with NSAIDs and antibiotics.  

Trazodone is not a pain medication and 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. 

By helping to keep your pet comfortable and calm, they will better tolerate their period of confinement and they will be back to doing their favorite activities before you know it. If you have any questions about the medications for your pet after surgery or if you notice any adverse reactions such as vomiting, gagging, or panting, please call us or send our Licensed Veterinary Technician any questions, concerns, photos, or videos at the after-hours and weekend nurse e-mail provided at the discharge. 

Posted February 08, 2021 by Animal Surgical in Pet Health, Recovery, Surgery with No Comments

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