Please use the postoperative care sheet that was prepared specifically for your pet's condition.


  • Room rest with no running, jumping or climbing furniture is initially required after orthopedic surgical procedures for 4-6 weeks and time outside should be limited to short durations, leash-controlled walks and in many cases sling assisted walks in the backyard for elimination. For soft tissue procedures room rest for about 2 weeks is usually sufficient.
  • Please select a room with non-slippery floors or consider temporarily adding carpeting especially after orthopedic procedures or for geriatric patients. For the smaller patients a pet / baby playpen or dog crate can be used. Make sure it is well covered or your pet might try to jump out. Another way to use the pet / baby playpen for cats and small dogs is have it turned upside down so your pet doesn't escape or try to jump. 
  • After all orthopedic procedures, unsupervised access to the stairs (up or down) is not allowed. Therefore blocking access to the stairway will be required. The use of an abdominal sling to help your pet go up the stairs will be explained. To go down the stairs do not use the sling, simply hold on your pet's collar closely and proceed slowly. Small dogs can be gently carried with the least amount of pressure to the incision as possible. Abdominal slings can usually be obtained from veterinary hospitals, pet stores or online. A simple solution is to use a towel, or a long sock for the smaller pets.
  • You can start reviewing the specific postoperative care instructions as they become available before your pet has been released from the hospital. Here is a link for additional general postoperative instructions, info about incisions, physical therapy, etc.



  • Please monitor the incision for increased bruising and swelling or discharge.  If any of these signs of inflammation develops, please call your veterinary hospital for advice. If your pet is not eating, seems uncomfortable or has increased body temperature over 103 F, you should contact us for veterinary advice as soon as possible.
  • Q: Is it OK if I allow my pet to lick the incision? No, the use of an Elizabethan collar is mandatory to prevent self-trauma to the incision and suture removal by the pet. This will save you a trip to the emergency hospital. When the patient does not lick or traumatize the incision it decreases the risk of incisional infection. The e-collar must be long enough, i.e. extend beyond the nose. If the skin around the incision is red or irritated, this normally means your pet has been licking.  E-collars are clear, so your pet can see through them and can eat, drink, sleep and even go outside wearing them 24/7.  In fact, the more you leave them on, the quicker they will get used to them!  Taking them off when you are home and putting them back on when you leave frequently leads to problems. Inflatable ProCollar Protective Collars are often a more pleasant alternative to lampshade Elizabethan collars.  These collars are available at some pet stores and online at If you prefer to use an inflatable collar, please be sure that your pet can’t reach around the collar to the incision or bandage.  If the incision is over the chest or belly, a T-shirt may be worn. Bitter Apple or similar product may be placed around the incision, but not directly on the incision. However this does not deter some pets at all.  Some love the taste!
  • Bandages must be kept clean and dry:  they must be covered with a plastic bag when your pet goes outside and the bag needs to be removed each time your pet comes inside again.  Please monitor bandages carefully for dampness, slipping, odor, or sudden irritation or discomfort.  These could all be potential signs that an appointment for recheck examination and bandage change should be scheduled promptly.
  • Cold compresses applied to the incision will help decrease inflammation and improve comfort. This may be done as frequently as you choose, assuming your pet tolerates it easily, during the initial postoperative time. When performing icing sessions (5-10 min.) at the incision/surgical area use a thin towel over the ice and between the skin to prevent freezing the skin.
  • Please contact your veterinary office if your pet seems to be experiencing pain, because individuals vary in their pain level and narcotic tolerance and doses or medications can be adjusted.
  • To be better prepared, obtain the contact information for emergency services from your primary care hospital in case an emergency occurs after hours, during a weekend, or a Holiday.

Q: When should my pet have his or her first bowel movement after surgery?

  • Many pets will not have a bowel movement for the first 3-4 days after anesthesia and surgery. This is normal as long as there is no straining to attempt defecation. There are several reasons for this: Your pet has been fasted prior to surgery; Your pet may not have eaten well during the hospital stay or the first few days at home; Pain medications may slow down the intestines. If you are concerned about constipation, canned pumpkin or Metamucil 1/4 teaspoon BID (twice daily) can be added to the food to help speed the process.

Q: My dog had surgery and is now not eating. What can I do?                                                                         

  • Make sure your pet does not have fever above 103 F. You need to find out with a thermometer placed rectally. Please call your hospital for details. Make sure that your pet is not breathing abnormally, or manifests other signs of a problem like a very tensed abdomen from having a full bladder for example.
  • Offer boiled, lean meat (chicken or hamburger) mixed with rice. Gradually wean your dog back onto the regular diet over a few days or so.
  • Flavor water with low fat, low salt chicken or beef broth to encourage drinking.
  • Offer canned dog food or baby food.  Hand feeding may help a lot, too.
  • Warming up the food (a little!) will enhance the flavor.
  • Please keep in mind that when a dog is confined fewer calories are needed.  Unless your dog needs to lose weight, a rough rule of thumb is to feed 75% of the regular daily amount.

Q: My cat had surgery and is now not eating. What can I do?

  • Offer smelly foods like tuna (it is safe for a few days), chicken, or canned food.
  • Try baby food, but avoid ONION.
  • Flavor water with tuna juice (from a can) or low fat, low salt chicken or beef broth to encourage drinking.
  • Petting your cat is relaxing and may stimulate the appetite.  Hand feeding may help a lot, too.
  • Warming up the food (a little!) will enhance the flavor.
    If your cat hasn't eaten for 24 hours please call your vet as soon as possible!
  • In some cases, we can prescribe an appetite stimulant.

Q: My pet is vomiting since returning home. Why? What can I do?

  • There can be numerous reasons for vomiting. Your pet may be drinking large amounts of water at one time and then vomiting. If so, please offer small, frequent amounts of water. Medications (antibiotics, pain medications) may cause nausea and vomiting. In order to see which medication may be causing this problem, separate them by about 2 hours. Normally your pet will appear nauseated within one hour of receiving the medications. After you have narrowed down which medication it may be, please call your vet who may change or discontinue the medication. Try offering the medications in a small amount of food. Nausea may be a result of anesthesia and should dissipate in a few days. As a general rule, and with your vet’s approval, withhold any food or water for 12 hours. If your pet has had abdominal surgery, becomes increasingly depressed, or the vomiting persists more than 24 hours PLEASE CALL YOUR VET OR SURGEON IMMEDIATELY!

Q: How do I know if my pet is in pain following surgery?

  • Signs of pain can be difficult to assess. Signs may often be very subtle.
  • Signs of pain include: Biting at the surgical site; Growling or a deep moan/cry/whine; Anxiousness; Restlessness and not wanting to sleep or lie down, or continual pacing; Quiet or reclusive behavior, however your pet may just be upset about leaving and coming back home; The worst discomfort is typically for the first 2-3 days.

Q: Are there any medications I can give at home if my pet seems to be in pain?

  • IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO NOT GIVE ANY OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICATIONS TO YOUR PET FOR PAIN.  MANY OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUGS MAY HAVE SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS, ESPECIALLY WHEN GIVEN WITH THE DRUGS YOUR PET HAS BEEN PRESCRIBED. Please call your veterinarian if the medications provided for your pet are not helping, stronger medications may be needed.  Applying a warm or cold compress to the incision area may reduce pain and swelling.

Q: What are possible side effects of common medications:

  • This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all side effects.  Rather, it is a list of the most common side effects we have noticed in our patients.  They are normally mild, but could be serious.  If you have any doubt about your pet's signs, please call our clinic, your referring veterinarian or the closest emergency clinic as soon as possible!!!


  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of drugs commonly used to control pain and inflammation in dogs.
  • Such drugs include: RIMADYL® (carprofen), ETOGESIC® (etodolac), METACAM® (meloxicam), DERAMAXX® (deracoxib), PREVICOX® (firocoxib), ZUBRIN®(tepoxalin) etc.
  • Possible side effects include: vomiting, diarrhea, with or without blood; lethargy, depression; not eating or eating less; yellow gums and skin; change in drinking.

Pain medications:

  • Tramadol, Buprenex® (buprenorphine), Torbutrol® (butorphanol), the fentanyl pain patch and similar drugs can cause sedation, mild changes in behavior or constipation.


  • Antibiotics such as cephalexin, amoxicillin, Convenia®, Simplicef®, Clavamox® and Zenequin® can rarely cause vomiting, diarrhea and lack of appetite.
  • Metronidazole (Flagyl®) when used for more than 4-6 weeks can in rare cases cause neurological signs such as “goose stepping”, stiff or weak legs and wobbliness.


  • Steroids include drugs like prednisone, dexamethasone and Depo-Medrol®.  Their side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, with or without blood, lack of appetite, anxiety, lethargy, depression.  An increase in appetite, drinking and urination are to be expected.

If you notice any of these side effects, please stop the medications and call your referring veterinarian, your local emergency clinic or us.

Here is a link for additional information about incisions, compresses, medications, bandaging, splints, etc.