How to Prepare Your Dog for Surgery

dog surgery

Does your dog need to have surgery? When the vet says it’s time for your pup to go under the knife, there’s a lot of stress surrounding your dog’s care and the procedure. There are lots of questions and worries you may have. Here’s how to prepare your dog for surgery:

Preparing Your Dog for Surgery

Spaying and neutering are some of the most common surgeries that dogs undergo, though dental surgery and the removal of growths are also very common. These surgeries are considered very low risk, as are the majority of dog surgeries. However, anytime an animal goes into surgery there is a possible risk of something could go wrong.

The best thing you can do is prepare for the worst but hope for the best. That’s why preparation is key. Getting your pet and your family prepared for your dog’s surgery is crucial to it going smoothly. This is why we’ve outlined a few things you can do to prepare yourself and your dog for the big day. You should also prepare your dog and your home for dealing with your dog’s surgery.

A Week Before Surgery

While you might not want to think about your dog having surgery for the week leading up to it, you really should be preparing yourself. You’ll want to make sure your dog’s vaccinations are all up-to-date prior to having surgery. If your dog is missing any vaccinations, be sure to discuss it with your vet. They may recommend waiting until after your dog recovers if they think vaccinating will put their immune system at risk during the surgery. Your vet may also want to run some tests prior to the surgery. The days leading up to your dog’s surgery are a good time to get their base vitals to ensure they will be strong enough to go under the knife.

A week before your dog’s surgery is also a good time to think about the logistics of the surgery. How are you going to transport your dog to and from the vet? You might also consider bathing your dog a day or two before going to surgery. You’ll want your dog to be as clean as possible to help keep the risk of infection as small as possible.

In the week leading up to surgery, begin organizing your home to accommodate your pet’s recovery. Consider how you will make your dog as comfortable as possible. Are you going to have a nice clean spot on the couch for them to relax? Do you have extra towels and blankets you could give them if they get cold? Think about how you will help your dog during their recovery and prepare for it before taking your dog to the vet. Some supplies you might want to consider having include:

●     Extra clean towels or blankets

●     Treat toys that can help them get mental stimulation during recovery

●     Chew toys or squeaky toys

●     Clean, fresh water nearby

 You also might consider running a white noise machine or having the television on. The extra sound can help to calm your dog while they recover.

The Night Before Surgery

Before the surgery, you should have all your questions answered so you know how best to take care of your dog once they come home. You should know about any medications that your vet wants your dog to be taking. Your vet will likely also want you to restrict their food and water the night before surgery. Most likely, your vet will want them not to eat after their normal dinner time the night before. They may want to restrict their water as well, though water overnight is usually fine.

You should give your dog a good brushing the night before their surgery. This will help remove any loose fur. Honestly, it can also give you some quality time with your dog. Grooming brings you closer together. Do what you can to make sure they look and feel their best. Once you’re done, make sure you and your dog get a full night’s rest. The following day is going to be stressful, so do what you can to make sure you’re both prepared for it.

One thing not to do is trim their fur. If you know they’re having surgery on their paw, don’t try shaving their paw. Your vet has the proper tools to do this. They will also have the luxury of a sleeping dog, which makes trimming their fur much safer and easier.

Preparing Yourself for the Big Day

While you’re preparing your dog for surgery, you really shouldn’t forget about yourself and your family. Your pet is going to be recovering soon, and they will need you to be ready for them. If you’re a nervous wreck the entire time, your dog may be the one who suffers.

Ask Questions

But how do you prepare yourself for what’s going to happen to your dog? The most important step is to learn what you can about your dog’s surgery. Talk to your vet about what they are going to actually be doing, learn about the prognosis of your pet’s recovery and be sure to ask any questions you have. If you have unanswered questions, you’re likely to worry more than you have to. If you live with other people, be sure to talk with them about the surgery as well since they’re going to be just as worried as you are.

Take Care of Yourself, Too

When you’re gathering any food, treats, or equipment for your pet’s recovery, be sure to think about what you might need for yourself. This is especially the case for that first day or two of recovery. If you like special drinks, splurge on one for yourself. Grab your favorite snack while you’re out shopping or buy a good book. Whatever little convenience is going to make you feel a bit more comfortable while you’re nursing your dog back to health will be worth it.

The Day of Surgery

You’ve prepared your dog, your house, and yourself for it, and the day’s finally here. Most pet surgeries get scheduled in the morning, so you’ll want to get to bed early the following day. You’ll also be restricting your dog’s food and water the day of their surgery. Your vet will want their stomach to be empty when they go into surgery because anesthesia can cause them to vomit. If your dog vomits while in surgery, there’s a chance they can choke.

Normally, your vet will just have you drop off your dog on the day of the surgery. They should give you an idea of how long the surgery and recovery should take. Since you’ll have a little time, you can run any errands or spend a little more time preparing for your dog to come home.

Just make sure that you check with the front desk to ensure they have your most updated contact information since they’ll be calling you to tell you when your dog is ready to be picked up. They may also have specific instructions about how to pick up your dog or what you might need to make your dog comfortable on the ride home.

Caring for Your Dog After Surgery

Once your pet is ready and you have a chance to talk with your vet about how it went, be sure to get filled in about after-care for your dog. They may have prescribed medications for your dog to take during recovery. They may also have specific instructions on how to clean any incision sites. If you have any questions or if any was not made crystal clear, ask questions. You should also be certain that if they did prescribe medications, you actually receive them.

Prevent Licking

Depending on the kind of surgery your dog received and where it was, they may want to lick the wound. You should do everything you can to stop your dog from licking their sutures. Your vet will likely give you an Elizabethan collar to help avoid this. This “cone of shame” goes around the dog’s neck and extends out so your dog will not have access to their body.

Prepare a Spot for Resting

At home, you’ll want to make sure you have a comfortable spot for them to recover. Make sure the spot is warm and quiet. You’ll also want access to your dog because you have to watch them closely for the first day after surgery. You should be sure to check that their incision is clean and change the bandages as needed. If anything looks strange or off, call your vet to be sure everything is progressing well.

Limited Outdoor & Play Time

You should limit your dog’s outdoor exposure for the first day as well as limiting their exercise. If your dog is too active, it can cause the incision to reopen and draw out their recovery time. Luckily most dogs are a bit groggy after surgery so keeping them less active should be a bit easier. You should also assist them when they go outside to make sure they don’t get overly dirty and that they don’t have any other issues.

If your dog is moving, eating, and drinking without issue, it is likely going to recover just fine. With a little help from you, your dog should be back to its normal self in no time!

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