How to Care for a Dog After Veterinary Surgery

After bringing your dog home from surgery, proper post surgical care is an important step to your dog's recovery. Here are some tips on how to care for your dog during this time.

Behavior After Surgery

When you pick up your dog from the Veterinary hospital, you might notice some abnormal behavior such as loss of balance, vomiting, lethargy and disorientation. This behavior is normal and usually caused by the anesthetic that was used during surgery. These side effects can last 12 to 24 hours after the surgery. If these symptoms continue past 24 hours, bring your dog back to your Vet for evaluation.


Your dog will need to get plenty of rest. Try to keep your dog as calm and comfortable as possible. Make a bed for him in an area of the house that is away from any noise, children or other animals. Watch your dog closely for anything usual and call your Veterinarian if you have any concerns. The next day your dog should be more alert and active. Walking your dog on a leash is a good way to release energy, but remember that the incision has not completely healed. Don't allow your dog to do strenous activity which can re-injure or inflame the incision site. You can slowly increase exercise back to normal once the incision is completely healed.


Depending on the surgery, your Veterinarian will be sending home medications for your dog. Be sure that you fully understand the information they tell you. Ask questions if you are unsure of anything that might effect your dogs ability to recover. Medications should be given according to the information on the bottle. It is important that you finish all antibiotic medications in order to fight off infections.

Incision Care

After surgery, the incision site needs to be watched carefully. Dogs will try cleaning their incisions, by licking, which can cause redness and swelling to the incision site. When the incision start to heal, the stitches can cause itching, causing your dog to lick or bite at them. For this situation an E-Collar is recommended. This will prevent your dog from getting to the incision site. Make sure that your dogs incision is aways clean. When cleaning the incision, avoid anything that may stick to the stitches, such as cotton. Your may notice some discharge from the incision which is normal. Gently dab the area with warm water and a cloth until clean. If you notice a large amount of discharge(after the third day), unsual color, or odor at the incision site, you need to call your Veterinarian.


You can offer your dog a small amount of dog food the first night after surgery. By the next day, your dog should have normal eating habits. If you find that your dog is not eating their normal diet, your can mix white rice with boiled chicken. Once they start eating, you can return to their normal diet by gradually mixing the rice and chicken with their normal food.

All surgeries are different. Difficult surgeries may require additional care and restrictions. While routine surgeries might call for little post surgical care. It is important that you follow your Veterinarians instruction carefully in order for your dog to have a full recovery.