Post-Op Information

Thank you for trusting our team with your pet’s surgery. We know your fur baby is a special family member, and we appreciate your trust in allowing us to care for your pet. Make sure to monitor your pet at home post-op for any vomiting, diarrhea, extreme lethargy, or increased respiratory effort. If any of these are seen, please call your family veterinarian for advice or bring your pet in for a recheck exam. 

Below is a general list of guidelines and recommendations for your cat or dog after their surgery. Please note that your pet will be sent home with specific guidelines based on their procedure. The information on this website page is meant as a guide for your pet’s care and is not a substitute or does not override the care instructions specific for your pet. As always, please call your family veterinarian for advice or email us at


Medication Dosage & Schedule

Please give all medications as prescribed by your family veterinarian. Examples of common post-operative medications are included below:

NSAID: This is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. It is meant to help with pain and inflammation during the healing process. Side effects include gastrointestinal upset and very rarely liver or kidney problems. Please stop the medication and notify your family veterinarian if you see any vomiting or diarrhea.

Antibiotic: This medication is an antibiotic and can cause gastrointestinal upset in some patients. Please call your family veterinarian for advice if you see any vomiting or diarrhea.

Tramadol: This medication is a morphine-like medication used for pain. The significant side effect seen is sedation.

Gabapentin: This is a pain medication that works on the nerves. The significant side effect is sedation.

Fentanyl patch: This is a transdermal pain patch. It can be very harmful or fatal if ingested by a person or your dog. So please monitor the patch closely and do not allow your pet to lick or chew at it. It can be removed in 3 to 5 days here at our clinic or at your home.

Notica: This is a long-acting local block that will be given during surgery. It will help to numb the surgery site for 72 hours post-op. The major side effect is the chance of increased swelling and bruising post-op and the possibility of interfering with nerve function for the three days or so it lasts.

Collar or Cone & Bandage Care Post-Op

Bandaid: A bandaid has been placed over the incision to protect the site. This should stay in place for 3 to 5 days before removal. If it becomes dirty or wet, it is ok to remove the bandaid earlier. This is held on by an adhesive and sometimes can be challenging to remove. You can use a bit of nail polish remover to help break down the adhesive or mineral oil. 

Bandage: A bandage has been applied to support and limit joint swelling and motion. Bandages can cause significant problems if not correctly cared for and changed regularly. Check toes daily for coolness or swelling. If toes appear cool or swollen (toenails splayed apart), please call or bring your pet back for a recheck. Keep the bandage clean and dry. 

Cover the end of the bandage with a plastic bag or glove when taking your pet outside. Remove the bag or glove when inside to avoid moisture gathering at the paw. Keep an e-collar on to prevent your pet from licking or chewing at the bandage. Call your family veterinarian to change the bandage sooner if it slips, becomes wet or soiled, or if toes appear cool or swollen.

Collar: Your pet is being discharged with an Elizabethan Collar (E-collar). This collar keeps your pet from licking or chewing at the incision or bandage and should be worn anytime your pet is not directly supervised. Please call if your pet can get around the collar, as a larger one may be necessary.

Activity Restrictions Post Surgery

This will vary greatly depending on the surgery performed. Please reference your discharges as these are only general guidelines. Some recoveries may be much shorter or longer.

WEEKS 1 and 2: When you are not at home or your pet is not directly supervised, please keep your pet in a crate, pen, or small room. It is preferable to keep your pet confined when you are at home. Keeping them on a LEASH when going to the bathroom outside is essential. At the end of the two weeks, your pet should have its incision checked by your family veterinarian or us.

WEEK 3: The same as weeks 1-2 except, you can allow 5-minute leash walks 2 to 3 times a day. Walk them outside very slowly, which will allow them to start toe touching or to begin to use the leg. 

WEEK 4: The same as weeks 1-3, except you can increase the leash walks to 10 minutes 2 to 3 times a day. You can also start swimming for 10-15 minutes once or twice daily. Again, a pool will work best rather than a lake or beach. Do not allow your pet to jump in the water- assist them in or out.

WEEKS 5: The same as weeks 1-4, except you can increase the leash walks to 15 minutes 2 to 3 times a day. 

WEEK 6: The same as weeks 1-5, except you can increase the leash walks to 20 minutes 2 to 3 times a day.

WEEK 7: The same as weeks 1-6, except you can increase the leash walks to 25 minutes 2 to 3 times a day.

WEEK 8: We recommend a recheck at our clinic at this time. Pending the recheck, you may start an off-leash activity after this next visit.

Remember, during confinement post-surgery, there should be no running, jumping, playing, or using stairs off a leash. Proper confinement is critical in healing your pet, and overactivity can result in implant failure or delayed healing that often requires a second surgery.

Feeding Your Pet Post-Surgery

Your pet may continue on its regular diet at home. However, some pets do not want to eat well for a couple of days after anesthesia and surgery, but please call us for advice if your pet has not eaten in 2 to 3 days.

Because of the medications and hospitalization, dogs can often become constipated after anesthesia or surgery. Therefore, it is not abnormal for your dog to go 3 to 5 days without a bowel movement. If you notice straining to defecate or your pet has not had a bowel movement in 5 days, please call us for advice.

Wound & Incision Management

Once the bandage is removed, monitor the incision daily for signs of progressive redness, swelling, discharge, or excessive licking. Mild redness and swelling are part of the healing process and should be expected for the first few days after surgery. The swelling can also travel down the leg and gather around the hock for orthopedic surgeries. 

After the first 3 to 5 days, the swelling and redness should subside, and the incision should look better each day. However, please call us for advice if you notice excessive swelling, redness, heat, or cloudy discharge (pus).

For the first 48 hours after surgery, you may ice the incision. To do this, use a bag of frozen peas or an ice pack and wrap it in a clean wash towel. The pack may be applied directly over the incision for 10 to 15 minutes. Only do this if your pet tolerates it well.

Follow-Up Appointments for Pet Recovery & Health

Please make an appointment for the rechecks before leaving today to ensure availability.

First Follow-up Appointment: Bring your pet back for a recheck in 10 to 14 days to check the incision.

Second Follow-up Appointment: Please bring your pet back in 4 weeks for an exam to assess the healing progress. 

Third Follow-up Appointment: Bring your pet back in 8 weeks from the original date of your pet’s surgery for recheck radiograph imaging to assess your pet’s healing. Please fast your pet the morning before this visit in case sedation is needed.

Rehabilitation & Pet PT

Passive Range of Motion: Your pet may benefit from Passive Range of Motion therapy. Please speak with us before starting any therapy at home for our recommendation based on your pet and their surgery.

To work with your pet on a passive range of motion, place your pet with the unoperated side down and flex and extend all the joints in the operated limb as far as what is comfortable. Do not do this if your pet seems too anxious or uncomfortable and tries to “fight” the exercises. You can do this 3 to 4 times a day for 10 to 15 minutes. This may be started in the first few days post-op if your patient is comfortable enough.

Other rehab exercises may be recommended as healing progresses. Your pet may also benefit from a formal rehabilitation session. Many centers are available, so please let us know if you would like a local referral.

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