Post-op FAQs

Post-Surgery Frequently Asked Questions

If your pet is in need of immediate care please contact:

  • Emergency Center-Omaha at 402-614-9000
  • Urgent Pet Care-Papillon at 402-597-2911
  • Urgent Pet Care-Millard at 402-991-9444
  • Veterinary Emergency Services-Lincoln 402-489-6800

Q1: What should I do if my pet doesn’t want to eat anything?

A: Some pets are not interested in food the first day of surgery, and that is ok. If your pet is not interested in their regular food you may offer a canned version of the same food if available.

Always start with a 1/4 to 1/2 of what you would normally feed as your pet’s intestinal tract might still be recovering from anesthesia. If they handle their first feeding well, gradually return to a normal size feeding.

*Warming food slightly in the microwave can make it more aromatic. Remember to stir and check temperature before feeding.

Other options:

  • chicken (boiled, boneless, and skinless)
  • hamburger (boiled)
  • plain rice or pasta
  • scrambled egg
  • chicken broth
  • baby food (meat variety) Cats may be offered any of the above-mentioned meat items as well as tuna or tuna juice.

Please do not allow your pet to drink an excessive amount of water at once, this may cause vomiting. We recommend frequent drinking of smaller amounts of water.

Q2: Is it normal that my pet has not had a bowel movement since surgery?

A: It is normal for a pet to not have a bowel movement for as many as five days after surgery. The general anesthesia and pain medications can slow down the intestinal transit time and your pet has been fasted for surgery. If your pet is eating well and acting normally otherwise, this is not a cause for concern. You may offer canned pumpkin to add fiber to bulk up stools and ease its passing or, sprinkle Metamucil (stool softener) on their food *please follow the dosage instructions on the label.*If you notice your pet straining to defecate, please contact Sirius Vet.

Q3: How do I know if my pet is in pain?

A: Many pets are very stoic and do not readily show pain by crying or whining. They may try to hide their pain as a normal survival instinct. We prescribe pain medication immediately following surgery however some patients may need to continue them longer. We are happy to refill medications if necessary.

Signs your pet may be in pain:

  • Refusal to eat
  • Limping or non-weight bearing (disuse of leg when previously being used)
  • Behavioral changes or aggression
  • Inability to get comfortable or sedentary
  • Panting in normal temperature setting
  • Sensitive to touch at surgical site

Q4: If my pet is not able to walk by themselves, how can I help them outside?

A: Using a sling can help stabilize and support the hind end mobility of a pet with weakness or healing from surgery. If your pet does not need a full harness system and is able to use their front half, a towel can be used to support the back end. This can be done with any bath towel that is large enough and strong enough to support your pet’s weight. While your pet is lying down place the middle section of the towel in front of your pet’s back legs and let the ends lay flat on either side. Make sure you have enough material on each side to pull together. Gently bring the two ends of the towel together over your pet’s back to create a sling.

Your dog can also be fitted with a “Help’EmUp” harness ( which is available for rent or purchase through Sirius Vet. It is a complete shoulder and hip harness system perfect for dogs recovering from injuries or surgery.

Q5: When should I give my pet the prescribed medication?

A: All medications should be given as instructed and can be given the evening or night you pick up your pet from surgery. Try to have your pet eat before giving medications.

If the medication is prescribed for every twelve (12) hours or twice daily, give the evening dose at a time that will fit your schedule to give twelve hours later. For example: If you medicate your pet at 7pm, they will be due for the next dose at 7am.*Please do not increase the dose of an anti-inflammatory or combine with another anti-inflammatory.

Q6: How do I give my pet the prescribed medications?

A: Many pets will take their medicine hidden in peanut butter, cheese, hotdogs, canned food, or marshmallows. If your pet refuses this, it may be necessary to ‘pill’ them.

Coat the pill thinly with butter or soft cheese. This isn’t to disguise the pill as a treat, since you already know that doesn’t work for your pet. It’s to help the pill slide down more easily.

Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger. (If you are right-handed, use your right hand.)

Using your other hand, gently grasp your pet's muzzle from above with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other.

Squeeze behind the upper canine teeth and tilt your pet's head back over his shoulders so he is looking at the ceiling. His lower jaw will automatically drop a bit.

Use one of the other fingers of your right hand to lower the bottom jaw further by placing the finger between the lower canine teeth (the long front teeth) and pushing down.

Quickly place the pill as far back in your pet's mouth as possible, getting it over the 'hump' of the tongue. Do not place your hand too far in, however, or your pet may gag.

Close your pet’s mouth, hold it closed, and lower his head to a normal position, which will make swallowing easier. Gently rubbing or blowing on your pet's nose may help stimulate him to swallow.

Q7: What do I do if my pet vomits shortly after giving the prescribed medications?

A: If your pet vomits shortly after giving medications, wait a couple of hours before trying again. Offer a small amount of bland food (listed in question 1) and a small amount of water, then give medications. If your pet vomits again one of the medications may be the problem. Please contact Sirius Vet for further instructions.

Q8: My pet does not like the e-collar, may I remove it and not have my pet wear it?

A: Please have your pet wear the e-collar it has been provided to you for your pet to wear for his own health and safety. The e-collar is important to keep on as it is used to keep your pet from licking it’s incision and causing an infection or complicating the healing process. It only takes a second for a pet to cause damage to the incision. If you are directly supervising your pet, you can remove the e-collar for a bit and give your pet a break, but DO NOT leave the e-collar off if you are not with your pet.

Q9: When do my pet’s stitches come out?

A: Suture removal should be performed 10-14 days post-operatively and is a service included in your cost of surgery. We do not recommend going beyond the 14 days post-operatively as the sutures or staples may become embedded in the skin. Please call in advance to schedule the suture removal.

Q10: Do I need to do anything different for my cat’s litter box?

A: Yes, we recommend switching to a paper litter such as Yesterday’s News to prevent litter from sticking to the incision or bandage. If your cat is having difficulty getting in and out of the litter box, you may use a shallow pan such as a disposable cake or casserole pan.

Q11: How do I know if my pet’s incision looks okay?

A: Please reference the chart below and feel free to call with any questions.

Normal Abnormal
Mild swelling Swelling that does not resolve in a few days or worsens
Slightly reddish/pink color Excessive bleeding
Slight Bruising Hot to touch

Odor and/or yellow/green discharge

Q12: My pet had stifle (knee) surgery but his hock (ankle) appears swollen. Is this normal?

A: Yes. Normal surgical swelling from the stifle can migrate down the limb to create a small fluid pocket near the hock. Icing and warm compresses can help reduce swelling. An explanation of how to perform these can be found in your discharge letter. If the swelling appears excessive or you are worried please call Sirius Vet.

Q13: I have to leave my dog alone for a few hours, what should I do?

A: If you’re pet is to be left unsupervised we recommend you keep your pet in a kennel or a confined area that does not have furniture that can be jumped on, wearing the e-collar at all times.

Q14:My pet is feeling better and trying to be active, what do I do?

A: Your pet has just had very invasive surgery and should not be allowed to run or jump. If your pet is feeling better, you may take your pet out for a short 5-10 minute walk, making sure that you have your pet on a short leash so that you have control over the pace of your walk and your pet in general. The last thing we want is for you to have to bring your pet in for being over active and causing damage to the surgical area.

Q15: The leg my pet had surgery on looks smaller than the other. Is this okay? Why did that happen?

A: As expected, a pet will have some lameness or less use of the surgically repaired limb during the healing process. Because of this, muscle atrophy (decrease in muscle mass) occurs. It is normal for the limb to lose size for approximately 6-8 weeks before the muscles begin to build back to a normal appearance.

We hope you have found these questions and answers helpful in returning your four-legged athlete to his or her peak performance. Please do not hesitate to call Sirius Veterinary Orthopedic Center at (402) 934-1332 if you have any concerns or questions.


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