Post-operative care advice

Advice for helping your pet recover after their operation

If your pet has an operation, it is important to talk to your vet about post-operative care – what you should expect after your pet has had an operation, and how to take the best care of them when they get home.

First, here are three things to ask your vet before you take your pet home:


(1) Medication – Check you understand what medication they need, how often and that you are comfortable administering it – if you aren’t sure, your vet will be happy to explain or show you


(2) Food – Ask about eating and drinking – if your pet requires any special food. We normally recommend an easily digestible diet after an anaesthetic or major illness fed frequently in small portions. A recovery pack of Hills ID available from the practice is ideal.


(3) A collar – If you think your pet will lick his wounds, ask your vet for a buster collar. It is important that he doesn’t lick or rub the wounds as it may stop it from healing or cause infection. Most rabbits and small pets have internal stitches, but it is still important that they do not bother the wound.

When your pet has had an operation, it is not unusual for them to be a bit sleepy or wobbly after the procedure.
Make sure they are warm and comfortable and leave them quietly until they are ready to socialise again. Most pets recover quickly and are more normal by the next morning. If your pet seems slow to recover or you have any concerns, please contact your vet.

Now some advice relating specifically to dogs, cats and rabbits.

For Dogs:

Normally, dogs may be taken for a short walk on a lead when you get home to allow them to go to the toilet. Some patients need strict rest, especially after orthopaedic surgery. Your vet or nurse will advise you appropriately.

For cats:

Please keep your cat indoors with a litter tray for the first night. You vets will advise what to do after that. Some patients need strict rest, especially after orthopaedic surgery.

For rabbits and other small pets, such as hamsters and gerbils:

Please ensure your pet is eating and drinking when you get home. If they are not, then it is important that they are syringe fed – ask your vet about this, most practices stock the appropriate nutrition products. You should also check that they are going to the toilet as normal and that their droppings look normal. If you have any concerns at all, ring your vet.

Gentle exercise is encouraged in most rabbits and small pets after surgery to encourage normal bowel function, unless you are advised by your vet or nurse.

General post-op care advice for all pets:

If your pet has a small dressing on a front leg where a cannula had been placed, you should remove the dressing when you get home, following your vet’s advice.

If your pet has a dressing covering a surgical site or wound, please ensure the dressing remains dry and clean and that your pet cannot interfere with it.

  • We like to check most patients a few days after an illness or operation, your vet or nurse will arrange an appointment for you.
  • The stitches that have been used in your pet’s operation will either dissolve over the next few weeks or will need removing. Your vet will book the appointment for you.

If you have any concerns at all, especially if your pet is not eating, then please contact the surgery for advice.

And finally – remember to give your pet lots of special attention and TLC!

You can also watch this advice as a video blog by our resident Vet Vanessa as well as other informative videos on our YouTube channel.

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