How to Prepare Your Pet for Surgery

Before your pet is scheduled for surgery, your vet may require some blood work, radiographs, ultrasounds, or other tests to verify that general anesthesia will be safe for your pet. While this step may seem unnecessary, it is a vital part for ensuring a safe surgery. During this time, check with your vet to see if any vaccinations are required for their stay at the pet hospital. Parvovirus in dogs, rabies, Bordetella, and canine distemper vaccinations are typically required before a dog has surgery.

At this preliminary appointment, you will also schedule a date and time for your pet’s surgery. If your pet is in need of a haircut or bath, make sure to do this before the surgery date because you’ll have to keep the incision site dry for a few weeks after the operation.

One Week Before Surgery

Make sure your pet receives all required vaccinations at least ten days prior to the surgery appointment so that they have time to reach the immune system.

The Day Before Surgery

If your pet regularly takes medication, there may be certain requirements or restrictions on administering it the night before or the morning of surgery as many procedures will require an empty stomach.

The day before your pet has an operation is a good time to prepare your home for the following day. Home prep may involve making accommodations for other pets in your household, setting up your pet’s crate, and packing any special food or medications for the trip to the hospital. It may also be a good idea to wash your pet’s bedding to prevent any type of bacterial infection after the procedure. You might also section off an area of your home where your pet can rest and recover from the operation. Trying to prepare your pet’s bed or area after picking them up from surgery can be hectic. Setting things up the day before will make the process go much more smoothly the next day.

In most cases, pets will need to fast for 8 to 12 hours before surgery. Fasting is meant to prevent nausea and vomiting when anesthesia is administered. Before going to bed the night before an operation, remove your pet’s food and water and make sure the lid is on your toilet bowl. If your pet does happen to find some food or water right before they are supposed to go in for surgery, be sure to inform your vet about what they ate or drank. Eating or drinking will not necessarily mean your pet cannot go through with surgery that day, but it will give the surgeon a heads up for potential nausea during the operation.

It is also important that your pet gets a good night’s sleep before going in for surgery. Adequate rest will help to reduce the stress and anxiety of being under the care of a veterinary clinic.

The Morning of Surgery

On the morning of your pet’s surgery, make sure your pet is still refraining from food or water. In addition, you will want to take your dog outside for a potty break before handing them off for a day inside a pet hospital.

It is a good idea to allot plenty of time to drive to the pet clinic and aim to arrive a few minutes early to fill out last-minute paperwork and talk to the staff. Showing up late to your pet’s surgery appointment will contribute to your stress as well that of your pet and veterinarian. Be sure to leave your phone number with the clinic so they can call you when your pet is ready to be picked up or in case of an emergency. Try to stay calm and avoid emotional goodbyes with your pet. This will help tame your pet’s nerves and prepare them for the operation.

Bringing Your Pet Home After Surgery

Your vet will provide you with detailed instructions on how to care for your pet after surgery. In most cases, they will need to take medication to prevent pain, swelling, or infection following a surgical procedure. If the operation required an incision, your pet will most likely be sent home with an Elizabethan collar (cone collar) to prevent licking, scratching, or chewing which will interfere with the healing process.

Most surgeons will recommend that pets significantly reduce their activity levels for a week or two after surgery. A surgical incision will need time to heal, but the recovery timeline and activity requirements will depend on the nature of the operation. Restricting your pet’s activity level can be difficult for cats, puppies, and active breeds. Keeping your dog indoors with the exception of potty breaks will usually suffice, but you may want to keep your dog in a crate for most of the day if your dog is especially rambunctious.

When you bring your pet home from surgery, it is vital that you follow your vet’s exact instructions and contact the pet hospital if you have any questions or concerns. Keep an eye on your pet to make sure they are not licking, scratching, or chewing the incision area. Additionally, take note of your pet’s appetite and notify your veterinarian if they do not return to normal eating habits within a day or two.

Following you pets surgery; it is also important to only give your pet medications that are prescribed or recommended by the surgeon. Some over-the-counter medicines such as anti-inflammatories may be toxic, especially in conjunction with other medications. If your pet is acting strange or appears to be in a lot of pain a few days after surgery, contact your vet for a professional opinion on how to help your pet manage.




Having your pet go through surgery can be stressful. We are highly experienced and dedicated to providing optimal surgical care with the best possible outcome in mind.

Surgery is not performed until we discuss and agree on the details, expectations and possible outcomes of the procedure, as well as potential risks, costs and required home care. Preoperative preparation will also be discussed in detail.

We advocate the use of pre-anesthetic blood work to screen for any situations that may require us to change our anesthetic protocol for your pet. Animals with heart disease, lung disease and liver or kidney disease can benefit from a unique anesthetic protocol made just for them.

One of our top priority is controlling your pet’s discomfort. We take all necessary steps to relieve any pain before, during, and after your pet’s surgical procedure. We also know that with proper pain control for all surgeries, the time it takes for your pet to heal is lessened.

We perform a wide variety of modern surgical procedures and techniques. We are at the forefront of modern state-of-the-art veterinary orthopedic surgery procedures and techniques.