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Plan to keep your pet from eating or drinking for about eight hours leading up to the surgery process. Whether you’re visiting your usual veterinarian or a specialized surgeon, they can provide you with the exact window of time, depending on the surgery.
Typically, if there’s food or water in your pet’s stomach, it could interfere with the dog anesthesia or cause your pet to vomit during the surgery process. These complications can be life-threatening, so it’s important to keep them away from any and all food sources before bringing them to the dog or cat surgery center. If your pet does eat something before surgery, as the pet parent, it is important to communicate this to the vet. Depending on the surgery, sometimes this is okay, but other times the surgery will need to be rescheduled.
Absolutely! Your pet will most likely be thrilled to spend some extra time with you, grateful for the familiar face and lap to cuddle up in.
After veterinary surgery, it’s important for them to get a lot of care and rest and remain comfortable in a quiet, familiar area. The exact healing—and rest—time will depend on the type of surgery service. For instance, spayed and neutered dogs shouldn’t run, jump, or play with other pups for around two weeks after their surgical procedure. A minimally invasive soft tissue surgery will require about three weeks of rest.
More serious surgeries might have much longer recovery times, including tumor removal, ACL or fracture repair, spinal surgeries, amputation, some dental surgery for dogs, and more. As your pup rests and recovers, always consult your veterinary surgeon about introducing activities back into their routine.
While you should monitor your pet throughout the first day after surgery, such as a spay or neutering, you don’t need to spend 24/7 with them, and it’s not necessary to watch your pet throughout the night after veterinary care. It’s okay to resume your daily activities and leave them alone to rest after their surgical procedure. Chances are, they’ll be more tired than usual, and will catch up on their beauty sleep as the general anesthetic wears off. Still, you should check-in periodically to make sure they’re recovering well after their surgery and staying out of trouble.
Most often, you’ll return home from the animal hospital with a lethargic pup, especially if the operation requires a general anesthetic. They should start to get their energy back after a few days, but it may take a while to return to their normal, rambunctious selves. New patients can also expect some behavioral changes as they readjust from their emergency care—changes in appetite, sensitivity to touch, signs of mild pain or discomfort, and so on. Although these changes are common, be sure to keep your vet updated.
You may need to contain your pet in a smaller space after their surgical care, such as a separate room or a gated area, to ensure they don’t move around too much or interact with other animals in the house. Fill this space with their bed, cozy blankets, and other comfort items (like their favorite toys).