Surgeries are sure unpleasant experiences, for both humans and pets. From my experience, dogs recovering from surgery can be quite difficult to handle, as they require a bit of extra care and attention to heal properly. This is especially true for the first few days or weeks after the surgery as this is the critical adjustment period when your dog will have to rest a lot and refrain from any strenuous physical activity.

My dog underwent heartworm removal surgery a year ago, and I want to share our recovery experience in hopes it will help minimize stress and hassle for other dog parents and their furry companions in the post-op period.


1. Restricting Pet’s Activity is Essential

4 Things to Keep in Mind When Helping Your Pet Recover From SurgerySamuel Cockman/Flickr


One of the definite musts for people whose pets are recovering from a surgical procedure is restricting the pet’s activity. This will allow the animal to get lots of rest and avoid needle strains and movement that may lead to pain, breakage of stitches and exhaustion. For minimal risk of accidental injury, keep your dog in a comfy position on the floor close to its eating and toilet areas. The last thing you need on your hands is an accidental fall or bump into a hard obstacle which may cause extra pain to your pooch and even prolong the recovery period by another week or so.

2. Keep the Animal Warm

In the post-op period, you will have to make sure your dog is warm enough as their temperature sensors may not be working well and activity will be limited, which may impact your dog’s normal blood flow. This is especially important in the post-anesthesia period, when your pet is likely to feel cold, tired and sleepy. Be sure not to overheat your pet as high temperatures may slow down the healing and aggravate bleeding of the incision.


3. Make Sure Your Pooch is Hydrated

4 Things to Keep in Mind When Helping Your Pet Recover From SurgeryCharles Hutchins/Flickr


Regardless of the type of surgery your dog underwent, making sure they’re adequately hydrated will considerably accelerate the healing and recovery period. In the post-op period, most animals need more water than usually so you a ready water bowl should always be within your pet’s reach.

Be careful when giving water to your dog when still under anesthesia – groggy dogs are not capable of holding their heads up for long and their snouts may fall into the water, so you’d better supervise your pet’s drinking sessions just to stay on the safe side.


4. Offer Light, Bland Food in the Recovery Period

The best food to give to your recuperating pet includes easily digestible meals like hamburger meat, boiled chicken, and similar bland flavors. A vet’s recommendation would also be to have your dog on a specific after-surgery diet or a similar program. You should feed your pet small portions until their appetite recovers and don’t panic if your pet refuses food in the first few days: anesthesia can sometimes cause nausea, vomiting and lack of appetite in pets – this is normal. In case the symptoms persist, consult a vet about possible reasons for your pet’s unwillingness to eat and best diet and supplements for its individual condition.

Post-op period is not always a smooth and straightforward ride for either the pet or guardian, but if you follow these few simple tips, your pooch will soon be back on their feet, as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and healthy as ever.

Lead image source: Flickr