Post-Operative Care

Help your pet recover from their procedure

A Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Nurse will discuss all post-operative care instructions specific to your pet and the procedure they have had done when they are discharged from the practice. Please do not hesitate to call the practice should you have any queries or require any further advice.

Some frequently asked questions:

What should I do when my pet arrives home after its operation?

On arriving home you should keep your pet warm and comfortable by providing a soft clean bed, ideally in a quiet and draught free room at approximately 20-22’C. Unless otherwise instructed, your pet should be offered a drink of fresh water and a small amount of food may be given. Please keep your cats indoors overnight, or longer if instructed and allow the use of a litter tray. Dogs may be taken on gentle lead walks from the following day unless otherwise instructed. You should discourage any jumping or activity that will cause excessive stretching of the wound, especially during the first few days post-operatively.

My pet seems very sleepy, is this normal?

Your pet has been given a general anaesthetic and/or a sedative. These drugs can take a number of hours to wear off and may cause some patients to appear drowsy for a day or so. Over the next day or two their behaviour should return to normal, however if you are at all concerned do not hesitate to contact the surgery. Most pets sleep even more than normal in the first week after surgery.

Why has my pets neck or foreleg been clipped?

Blood samples are often taken from a vein in the neck and a fore leg vein is usually where the anaesthetic or sedative was administered. The hair is clipped to reduce the risk of infection during the procedure. There may also be a small dressing on the leg; if so this can be removed later that day, unless otherwise instructed.

My pet has developed a slight cough since the operation. Is this anything to worry about?

Your pet may have had a tube placed in their trachea (windpipe) during the anaesthetic – this can occasionally cause mild irritation and a slight cough as an after-effect. If so, it will settle down over the next few days. However, should it persist, please contact the surgery.

What should I do if my pet is licking its wound or chewing the stitches?

It is only natural that your pet may try to clean the operation site, however, if this happens there is a danger of the stitches being pulled out or infection being introduced into the wound. If you have been given an Elizabethan-type collar to prevent your pet chewing then please ensure it is used, otherwise please contact the surgery and ask for one. Not surprisingly, many pets find these collars strange at first and will attempt to remove them. However after a short period most animals will settle and tolerate wearing the collar. Once accustomed, it is better to keep the collar on permanently, rather than to take it on and off.

An alternative collar to the Elizabethan-type collars are comfy collars which may be better tolerated by your pet. Please ask at the practice for details. Also a suitably customised t-shirt, sock etc. may help to cover the wound to prevent interference.

Remember – it only takes a few seconds of unobserved chewing for a pet to undo its stitches. If your pet does succeed in removing any of its stitches then please call the surgery as soon as possible.

What should the wound look like, and when should I be concerned?

The wound should normally be clean with the edges together and the skin a normal or slightly reddish/pink colour. In pale-skinned pets a small amount of bruising may be seen around the wound.  This may not appear until a few days after the operation.  In some cases a very small amount of blood may seep intermittently from a fresh wound for up to 24 hours, especially if the animal is active.

Please contact the surgery if you see any of the following at the wound:

  • Continued seepage or a large quantity of blood
  • Intermittent blood seepage continuing for more than 24 hours
  • Any swellings, excessive redness of the skin or discharge.

When do the stitches need removing?

In general most skin sutures are removed 14 days after the operation depending on the type of surgery performed. You will be instructed when is the most appropriate time for your pet.

When can my pet resume a normal active life?

This will depend upon the nature of the operation. In the case of a minor procedure involving a small incision, some restriction of exercise should be maintained until a few days after the skin sutures are removed. However, if a major operation has been performed or a large incision is present a longer period of convalescence will be required, which may involve keeping your pet rested for a number of weeks. Please discuss this with your Vet/Vet nurse.