Post Up Care

Once your pet is out of the operating room and on his way home, it’s up to you to help him feel more comfortable, so the healing process can begin. When your veterinarian releases your pet from the hospital, you’ll likely receive a long list of do’s and don’ts, potential problems to look for and supplies you might need. While all of this information can be a bit overwhelming, your veterinarian and members of his staff are there to help you make it through this sometimes-difficult time.

Before You Leave: Ask as much questions you need to know:

When your pet is ready to be discharged from the hospital, you’ll be given instructions for at-home care. Make sure that you understand what is expected of you, and if you have questions, ask if you can review them with a veterinary technician. Ask your veterinarian or technician to show you the best way to lift or support your pet when it is required.

Confining your Pet After Surgery will speed up healing:

Even the smallest of surgeries are harmful, so it's important that pets have time to heal and rest once they get home. In most cases, that means restricting how much activity they engage in.

If a dog moves too much following surgery, there's a risk of the tissues not bonding properly, which can lead to wounds that don't heal or heal too slowly. The more motion of the tissues, the harder it is for them to create the bonds to heal the cut sections back together. More and unwanted activities can lead to infections and more problems. 

We’re Home! Now What?

Your pet may still feel the effects of anesthesia several hours after the procedure, so he may be unsteady on his feet. If that’s the case, you may want to keep him in a quiet and contained place at first. And though your pet might want to return to his or her regular routine, you need to ensure that he gets proper rest.

Pets recovering from surgery should only be allowed outdoors to relieve themselves, but be aware that some pets may need more frequent bathroom breaks than usual, especially if they were given fluids during surgery or hospitalization. When taking your pet outdoors, make sure that he’s urinating and defecating as expected, and keep him on a leash at all times.

Supervise your pet’s eating and drinking, following all instructions for special nutritional requirements. Until he’s back to normal, provide food and water in small amounts.

Monitoring Surgical Sites 

Some swelling is normal immediately after surgery, but watch carefully for any signs of oozing, odors, heat, pain, excessive bruising, or redness. If something doesn’t look right, call your veterinarian immediately. And don’t allow your pet to scratch or chew at the sutures or bandage. If he does, an Elizabethan collar (also known as an “e” collar) may be necessary to prevent your pet from chewing the wound.

Recovery Times

Typically, full recovery from an extensive orthopedic surgery, such as total hip replacement, takes at least 2 to 3 months, though some dogs require 6 months of careful monitoring and rehabilitation before they reach optimal recovery. Less-invasive surgeries, such as neutering or ovariohysterectomy (spaying), may require only a matter of days or weeks for recovery.

Follow Up

It’s critical to keep all recommended follow-up appointments so that your veterinarian can monitor your pet’s progress. If sutures were used, your veterinarian may need to remove them. If a cast was placed, your veterinarian will want to check it periodically and eventually remove it. Radiographs (“x-rays”) or other tests may be scheduled to assess healing.

Your veterinarian may also prescribe physical therapy, including massage and hydrotherapy, which can be helpful to your pet’s recovery.


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