Recovery guide for the first 2 weeks following surgery

Always keep in mind that your pet has had major surgery and that the first night home can be the most challenging.


Anesthesia – We cannot determine how your pet will behave as the anesthesia continues to work out of their system in the first 12-24 hours after coming home.  Some common reactions that result in an owner’s concern are listed below.

  • Panting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Excessive thirst
  • Restlessness – Anxious – Standing up
  • Crying or whining

Medications – your pet has been sent home with medications to control pain, inflammation (in some cases) and infection. It is ESPECIALLY important that ALL medications be given as directed until they are gone. All medications provided by VSS can be given with each other.

E-Collar – Your pet has been provided with the appropriate e-collar sized to your pet’s needs.

  • If your pet gets the e-collar off and the incision looks irritated and/or damaged in any other way
    • Put the e-collar back in place.
    • Take a clear picture of the incision – email to the clinic along with details to [email protected]

Crate Confinement – If your pet requires crate confinement and activity restrictions, those have been explained during the discharge process.


Bruising and/or Swelling – This is not uncommon following your pet’s surgery.

  • Bruising can appear a deep red and/or purple.
  • Swelling can appear adjacent to the surgical area, bruising might not also be present.
    • Follow the instructions provided in your detailed discharge instructions & video.
    • Both bruising and swelling are NOT EMERGENT & will resolve in time.

Urination – Your pet may NOT urinate within the first 24 hours after coming home.

  • Keep in mind that if water intake is decreased, urine production will be decreased.
  • In some cases, female dogs will hold urine for up to 48 hours.
  • DO NOT try to force elimination by taking your pet outside multiple times.
    • Normal urination schedule will return within the first 72 hours.

Constipation – Your pet may not have a bowel movement within the first 5-7 days following surgery.  This is not uncommon and is NOT EMERGENT.

Things that can help with constipation:

  • Add plain canned pumpkin to the food. 1 tablespoon every 12 hours, mixed with the patient’s regular diet. DO NOT use pumpkin pie filling as it has too much sugar.
  • Soften kibble with warm low sodium chicken broth or warm water.
  • A stool softener can be recommended if the above remedies do not work. Contact the clinic for further information if your pet continues to experience constipation for over 7 days.

Appetite – Your pet may not want to eat the first night home, this is not uncommon, and we would expect the appetite to increase over the next 24-72 hours.

  • If your pet does not want to eat the morning after surgery.
    • DO NOT introduce any medications that are directed to be given with food.
    • ALL PAIN MEDICATIONS must be given as pain will result in a decreased appetite.
      • You can add warm chicken broth to your pet’s normal kibble diet.
      • You can also try unseasoned boiled chicken and rice. This type of bland diet will help if your pet’s tummy is upset.
      • Giving excessive treats, cheese or any other type of table food can lead to an increase in stomach upset and SHOULD BE AVOIDED.
      • Can give Pepcid (famotidine) once a day for a couple days. (optional)
        • If your pet is under 25 lbs the dose is 5mg once a day
        • If your pet is over 25 lbs the dose is 10mg once a day

Vomiting – determine whether this is a one-time event.

  • Did your pet eat and/or drink too much or too fast and vomit as a result?
    • If yes, then you can feed and provide water in a more controlled manner.
    • If no, then discontinue ALL medications with the exception of Gabapentin (for dogs) and Buprenex (for cats).
      • Withhold ALL food and water for 6-8 hours.
        • If vomiting resolves, then slowly re-introduce a bland diet as described above.
        • Once your pet has eaten TWO meals, then you can begin to give ALL previous medications as prescribed.
      • If vomiting continues, then notify the clinic immediately:
        • Monday to Friday after 5 pm: leave a voicemail on the clinic number, ALL calls will be returned upon opening.

Diarrhea – If the stool is “soft” and NO blood is present.

  • Discontinue ALL NSAID and Antibiotic. CONTINUE with ALL pain medication.
  • Recommend NO food for 24 hours – WATER ONLY.
  • If stool returns to “normal”, then begin bland diet along with antibiotic.
  • If your pet is having actual diarrhea – a LOOSE or LIQUID stool which your pet may not be able to control – resulting in unusual “accidents”.
    • Discontinue ALL medications.
    • Notify our clinic. Monday to Friday after 5 pm: Leave a voicemail on the clinic number, ALL calls will be returned upon opening.

If your pet has any combination of the following:

DIARRHEA, VOMITING, LETHARGY and/or INAPPETENCE – your pet will need to be seen by a veterinarian ASAP. During normal business hours this can be VSS or your primary care veterinary clinic. In the evening, weekends or holidays contact the closest emergency veterinary clinic.

If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency and you are not able to reach us, please take your pet to the nearest emergency clinic.