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Post-Operative Care

Ensure your pet recovers fully from their procedure

Your pet has recently had a general anaesthetic and surgery. Hopefully this has not been too stressful for either of you.

Once you get your pet home if you are unsure of anything or have any worries about your pet, call us at the practice, that’s what we are here for. I am sure no matter how silly you think you are being, you won’t be the first person to have the same worry.

Your job during the recovery period at home is just as important as the surgical procedure just performed. Some pets may be quite quiet and sleepy for the first 24 hours, while others may be less so! Try and let them rest undisturbed for the first evening.

Please see below for further advice to help your pet recover as quickly as possible.

  • Exercise
  • Rest
  • Wound Care
  • Dressings
  • Bathing
  • Feeding
  • Pain Relief
  • Medications


Home care after surgery mainly involves the restriction of physical activity. Unfortunately, your dog does not understand the seriousness of surgery or the significance of the recovery period. Most dogs will naturally become very active in a short period of time after surgery and confinement and close supervision indoors is of the utmost importance! This means:

  • No jumping or running
  • No climbing stairs
  • No playing with other family pets
  • No rough and tumble games

On the first day home dogs are only allowed out for toileting purposes. They must be on a short leash and returned indoors immediately. After this we recommend short lead walks for at least the first 7 days, or until the post-operative check when the vet/nurse can advise you on an exercise regime.

If your dog has been spayed or had any major abdominal surgery they should be restricted to short lead exercise for 14 days, or until the vet/nurse advises otherwise.

Cats will need to be kept indoors for at least one night. If they have been spayed or had any surgical procedures (other than castration), we recommend they are kept in for 3-5-days post-operation.


Following the operation, your pet will need to rest, even if they seem quite awake and active. Please allow for somewhere warm and quiet where they can retreat to, with minimal disturbance and a cosy bed.

Wound Care

The discharging nurse will have given you specific instructions for your pet's surgery. Generally we use subcuticular sutures so they are hidden under the skin. These are more comfortable, can’t be licked out and are cosmetically more pleasing. Check the wound at least twice daily. Your dog should not be over concerned with the wound. If there is a lot of licking let us know as licking does not help healing or keep it clean.

You can also use one of the cone collars or can fashion a cover from a t-shirt / baby grow / sock etc. Mild redness and swelling are part of the healing process and should be expected for the first few days after surgery. After the first 2-3 days, the swelling and redness should subside and the incision should look better each day. Moderate swelling on or around the incision site is abnormal, and may be an early sign of infection. For routine elective surgeries, any discharge from the incision site is abnormal.

Never put anything on the wound unless you are specifically told to do so by a vet/nurse.


Your pet may have had a cannula placed in one or both of their forelegs. There will also be a shaved patch at this site, sometimes extensively. The cannula is used to allow the vet direct access to your pet’s vein to administer anaesthetics, antibiotics and analgesics (pain relief). Shortly before you collect your pet the intravenous cannula will be removed and a small pressure dressing applied. This dressing can be removed about an hour after you get home or you can wait till the following day and remove it but no later. Please do not allow your pet to lick excessively at this site.

If your pet has had any other dressings, they will need to be kept on until the next post-operative check-up. Please ensure the dressing is kept clean and dry. If it is on a foot, please make sure it is covered with a waterproof covering prior to exercise, to prevent it getting wet or damaged.

Depending on the nature of the dressing, your pet may require them to be checked and changed regularly, until the site is healed.


Don’t allow any uncovered wound or dressings to become wet but you can bathe your dog if necessary.


We will probably have offered your pet some food before they go home. You may feed your pet their normal food when they get home, but only a small amount. If they seem hungry later on the same day, further small amounts may be offered.

If your pet has had any teeth extracted, we recommend you offer the option of soft food for 5-14 days (depending on how many extractions they had).

Some pets may benefit from being fed a bland diet for 1-3 days following the procedure, such as chicken and rice.

Fresh water should be offered as soon as they get home and should be available at all times.

Pain Relief

It is normal for your dog to be drowsy post-op but they should be comfortable. If we expect any discomfort we will have sent you home with pain killers. Generally it is better if these are given with food. Occasionally they can cause vomiting or diarrhoea. This is not common so let us know if it does occur.


If you have been given some medication(s) for your pet, please read the instructions to make sure you understand how and when to give them. You will have been advised when to start them and how often they should be administered. Please DO NOT be tempted to increase the dose/frequency of the medication without consulting the vet first. If you think your pet seems to be in pain, please let us know as soon as possible and the vet may be able to prescribe him/her some additional pain relief.

Unless told to do so continue with any ongoing medication such as analgesics or antibiotics. Routine preventative medications such as flea and worm medications should be left for a couple of weeks.

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