After Surgery Care for Dogs

As with any animal, surgery is a serious procedure that requires both preparation beforehand and proper care afterward. After surgery care for dogs is necessary to maintain the dog's health and make sure that the surgery has served its purpose. If your dog has just undergone a surgical procedure, you must care for it appropriately until the dog has recovered fully. Most vets will give you a printed list of instructions for how to care for your dog.

Right After You Get Home

Canine surgery is usually performed early in the day. In the first few hours after the procedure, the anesthetic will still be in the dog's system, which usually makes the dog very sleepy for the rest of the day. Make a comfortable place for the dog to sleep, and if you have more than one pet, keep the other pets away from this place, because after the drugs wear off the dog will possibly be experiencing some pain, which may make it irritable to other animals.

You can make this place for the dog to rest on the floor with pillows or old comforters, but a dog that has just undergone surgery should not be allowed to sleep on a bed or couch. The anesthetics also sometimes give dogs an upset stomach and reduce their appetite. Dry dog food can be a little harsh on the dog's stomach in this condition, so you may want to give it some very plain human food, such as boiled chicken and white rice. If your dog sleeps in a kennel, make sure to clean it before the dog goes into it to avoid infection.


If the dog can lick or scratch its stitches, you should get an e-collar for it. E-collars are plastic, bell-shaped collars that extend from the dog's neck up around the head. While they may look ridiculous and feel uncomfortable, e-collars are very effective at stopping the dog from biting at the incision.

Dogs have an instinctual tendency to pick at incision areas, so even if it is very painful for them, they are capable of tearing out their stitches. You can take the e-collar off when you are watching the dog and can prevent it from licking and biting at the incision area.

Care for the First Week After Surgery

Try to keep the dog as calm as possible because too much physical activity will aggravate the incision area. If your dog was given a prescription for antibiotics or pain medicine, follow the prescription closely. Continue the prescription until the end, even if the dog appears to be fully healed. Some dried blood will collect around the stitches, and you should occasionally wipe this off with a warm, damp washcloth.

Surgery can be harder on dogs than it is on humans, so you should be as gentle and attentive to your dog's needs as possible when caring for your dog after it has had surgery. Call the vet immediately if you think your dog is experiencing negative effects from the surgery.