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How can I Help my Pet Recover from Surgery?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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It is estimated that 60% of Americans own at least one household pet, and every year some of those animals require pet surgery. Pet surgery may be routine, such as spay or neuter surgery, or it may occur in a medical emergency where the pet needs immediate surgical intervention. In other cases, pet surgery may be undertaken to treat a medical condition such as cancer. Taking a pet in for surgery can be a scary thing for some pet owners. There are several things that pet owners can do to help their animals recover from surgery and go on to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

Quality post surgical care for animal companions starts with good care before the pet surgery. The prognosis for post surgical recovery can be greatly improved with a few simple measures. To begin with, pet owners should work with a qualified veterinarian who makes them feel comfortable. The veterinarian should disclose potential risks of the pet surgery, and provide information about alternatives. Getting bloodwork before pet surgery is also advised, to identify any medical conditions which may pose a risk while the animal is under anesthesia.

Follow your veterinarian's advice about withholding food and water before surgery. In the case of owners with multiple pets, it may be easier to withhold food and water from all the animals, rather than isolating the pet going in for surgery. In emergency pet surgery, be sure and let the medical staff know when your animal last ate or drank. When you bring your animal in for his or her surgery, make sure that the clinic staff have a contact phone number for you, and be sure to read the paperwork you will sign with care.

In surgery, there are several options which can improve your pet's recovery. Many veterinary clinics have begun to offer laser pet surgery, which is less invasive and promotes faster healing times. In addition, many veterinarians recommend the use of an intravenous catheter, which allows rapid access to your animal's bloodstream in the case of a surgical emergency. Placement of a catheter allows veterinarians to easily provide life saving drugs. While these options may increase the price of the surgery, they are well worth it.

After surgery, your animal should be given fluids, which promote recovery. Most veterinary clinics offer fluids after surgery for minimal additional cost. In addition, your veterinarian will provide you with prophylactic antibiotics, to prevent the onset of infection at the surgical site. Your animal may also have to wear a special collar to prevent him or her from picking at the surgery site. Follow your veterinarian's directions about post surgical care at home, and do not be afraid to ask questions.

When you first bring your animal home, he or she may be experiencing discomfort. At the veterinary clinic, pain management medication will be administered. Combined with the aftereffects of the anesthesia, this may cause the pet to feel dizzy or nauseous. Small amounts of food and water should be offered, and pet owners should not be upset if small amounts of vomiting occur. You can help your pet by keeping him or her warm and in a space where the pet feels safe.

Keep an eye on your pet during the recovery process. If vomiting continues, the surgical site becomes inflamed, or the animal is behaving strangely, contact your veterinarian. In most cases, the veterinarian will also schedule a follow up visit after approximately two weeks to remove the stitches and check on the animal. With loving care, most animals recover well from surgery and will be healthier and happier as a result.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All Things Nature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon166261 — On Apr 07, 2011

Okay, ewww anon730! Anon79061 is obviously right. Are you crazy? Anybody with a brain in their head would know to consult a vet, not an anonymous person a website. No offense, anon79061. Anyway, I hope your pet was okay after all of that.

By anon79061 — On Apr 21, 2010

Have the vet do it; much better idea than trying yourself. If you try to remove them yourself, dried blood could still be an issue, and you risk reopening the wound.

By anon730 — On May 02, 2007

How do you remove stitches from your pet after surgery?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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