How to Care for Your Dog After Surgery (from Exercise to Grooming)

How to Care for Your Dog After Surgery (from Exercise to Grooming)

 Your pooch is more than just a canine companion, he’s a crucial member of your family. Just like a human loved one, when your dog isn’t feeling their best, all you want to do is help. In cases where your pup might require surgery, providing the right quality of care can feel complex.

Your dog can’t tell you exactly what they need when they’re recovering, and they don’t always understand why you’re doing certain things to look after them.

While nothing will make looking after your pooch after surgery a complete walk in the park, there are things you can do to make life a little easier for both of you. Today, we’re going to be providing some handy tips on how to care for your dog post-surgery.

When Your Dog Arrives Home: Getting Started

First, when you receive the call from your vet letting you know your dog is ready to come home, pay attention. Your vet will be able to provide some extremely useful advice during this call, including tips on how to wash your dog’s face when they’re wearing a cone, how to keep the wound clean, and what you’ll need to do when safely administering pain killers.

If you have any questions that have been boiling up in the back of your brain while waiting for your dog’s surgery to be completed, don’t be afraid to ask them. For instance, you might want to know:

  • How often do you need to clean the wound and change bandages?
  • Should you give your dog the same diet, or something new?
  • How can you stop your dog from scratching their stitches?

After asking all your questions and bringing your pup home, remember they may not seem quite like themselves straight away. Though modern anaesthetics wear off pretty quickly, your dog is likely to feel a little disoriented, and may feel nervous after a stressful ordeal.

Make sure your dog has access to anything they consider to be comfortable and comforting, from a warm space to sleep, to a beloved blanket or toy.

Comfort and Care Post-Surgery

Ideally, it’s best to keep your dog in a familiar space after surgery. Don’t bring them with you into your bedroom or force them to lay beside you on the couch if they’re not comfortable unless your vet advises you to keep a close eye on them.

If you do need to keep your dog nearby, bring their bed or blanket with them, so they can be in the place where they feel most at-ease. Make sure food and fresh water are available when your dog needs them and try to keep kids and other animals away from your pup for the time being.

When it comes to leaving your dog alone after surgery, the best thing you can do is follow your vet’s instructions. Most vets and nurses will advise you to keep a close eye on your pet for the first 12 hours. You can usually leave your dog alone for short periods after this, as long as you know your dog isn’t actively chewing at their stitches.

If you’re nervous, consider getting a pet camera you can monitor with your phone. This will give you a handy way to keep an eye on what your pup’s doing when you’re handling tasks in your day-to-day life.

You’ll also need to follow your vet’s directions when it comes to feeding your dog after surgery, as some vets will recommend a very specific post-surgery diet. In most cases, smaller meals will be valuable when your dog is recovering from anaesthetic.

Exercise and Bathing After Surgery

Knowing when to exercise your dog or take him for walks after surgery can be complicated. Your vet should be able to give you some basic advice here. Usually, how quickly your dog will be able to get out and go on walks again will depend on the kind of surgery they’ve had. For instance, recovery from a spay or neuter is usually quite quick.

Generally, when it is time to exercise your pup after surgery, it’s best to avoid any extended movements, like jumping on a sofa or running up the stairs. Off-lead exercise is usually best to avoid until your pup is fully healed. If your dog is super energetic naturally, you may need to consider keeping them in a crate to help restrict their movement at times and stop them from accidentally hurting themselves.

Outside of exercise, bathing is probably the most worrisome task you’ll need to tackle when caring for your dog after surgery. There’s a good chance you’ll need to wash your dog a little more often during the healing process – at least around the wound.

You’ll have to take extra special care not to irritate the surgical incision area when washing your dog. For instance, try to avoid rubbing at the area directly, as this can cause discomfort and upset your dog. Gently wiping down the wounded area with a wet cloth might be easier than giving your dog a full bath. You could also use a soft towel to wash the area.

Try to keep any wounds as dry as possible to help reduce the risk of bacteria and infection. If you notice any weeping, discoloration, or unusual smells coming from the surgical incision, it’s crucial to contact your doctor as quickly as possible. The faster you contact your vet if your dog has a complication post-surgery, the faster they can solve the problem.

Keeping your Pup Happy Post-Surgery

Recovering from surgery can be an exhausting and upsetting experience for a dog, just like it is for a human being. The best thing you can do is be cautious when looking after your pet and follow your vet’s instructions carefully. Give your dog as much love and support as possible but be extra careful when picking up your dog or stroking him (just in case).

Your dog will heal eventually, and with a little luck the experience of caring for him during this difficult time will just bring you both closer together.