Caring for your pet after surgery

Depending on the type of operation, recovery from surgery may take a little time. All of our surgical patients are given pain relief at the time of the operation and are usually discharged with further analgesics. You can assist your pet at home and aid them in their recovery by making sure they are warm and comfy, they have access to food and water and that they are given their medications as directed.

The anaesthetic was administered through an intravenous injection in the front leg (you may notice a clipped area on the foreleg) and by gas through a special tube into the trachea. Occasionally this tube causes some irritation, which results in a mild cough following surgery. This usually clears up within 24 hours. If it continues we ask you to please contact our staff.

Your pet seems very sleepy, is this normal?

The general anaesthetic and/or sedative can take a number of hours to wear off and in some cases can cause patients to appear drowsy for a day or so. Over the next day or two their behaviour should return to normal.

What should you do if your pet licks or chews the stitches?

If your pet has stitches they may chew or lick them causing healing difficulties, and in some cases infection. If your pet shows an interest in the wound we would recommend a Buster collar, a bucket like device that is worn around the neck to prevent access to the surgical site.

Can you feed your pet tonight?

Ensure that your pet has access to water and offer a small amount of food the first night. However, if your pet refuses to eat do not be overly concerned, as the anaesthetic can cause loss of appetite. If your pet is not eating within 24 hours please contact the hospital. Occasionally animals may vomit after eating on the first night, so be sure to offer a small meal. Following dental procedures, offer soft food for the first few nights.

How do you care for your pet's wound?

During the postoperative period (approximately 10-12 days) the wound needs to be kept clean and dry. Check bandages and sutures daily and don't bath your pet or let them swim. Also check the wound for excessive swelling, discharge, gaping or self- inflicted damage. If you have any concerns please contact one of our staff.

Some wounds may have drains inserted to encourage movement of fluid away from the surgery site. These wounds will discharge and it is a good idea to clean the drain twice a day with warm salty water to prevent the drain from clogging. Drains are usually removed 3 days post surgery; please make an appointment for the drain to be removed.

Something is not right: what should you do?

If you have any doubt about the health of your pet following surgery, please contact our hospital immediately to speak to one of our healthcare team.

Signs you may see that can indicate problems include:-

  • Lethargy and/or vomiting (particularly after 24 hours)
  • Excessive redness and irritation around the surgery site
  • Swelling or lumpiness around the surgery site
  • Bleeding or discharge from the wound.




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