When your dog needs surgery, whether planned or in an emergency, it can be a stressful time filled with lots of questions for your veterinarian. From pre-surgery laboratory work to post-surgery care, there are many things to consider for a successful surgical outcome and recovery.  It is likely that you may have questions about the process. That is why we have taken the most frequently asked questions about dog surgery and answered them here.

If you have additional questions and are located near the San Mateo, CA please call us at 650-535-3557.

What do I need to know before my dog has surgery?

You should know several things before your dog has surgery to ensure you understand your dog’s needs before and after the procedure.

Before surgery, a dog owner should know:

  • Exactly why your dog needs surgery
  • What the surgery entails
  • Expected recovery time
  • Post-operative care for your dog (in hospital and at home)

Will my dog need laboratory work done before having surgery?

Most veterinarians require patients to have laboratory work performed before surgery. This is primarily to understand the dog’s overall metabolic stability going into the procedure and ensure they are healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.  If there are any abnormalities identified in the blood panel or urinalysis your veterinarian will discuss these with you and let you know what measures they will implement during surgery to minimize any further adverse effects to any organs that have abnormalities on the blood or urine panels. 

What will my veterinarian be looking for in the pre-surgery laboratory work?

Your veterinarian will use the pre-surgery laboratory work to assess how well the anesthesia drugs will be metabolized or digested. They will check organ functionality, as well as your dog’s platelet count to ensure their blood is clotting properly and that there are no other significant abnormalities. The results of these checks will inform your veterinarian if your pet's anesthetic risk is high and if there may need to be changes in planning for the procedure.

Does my dog need to see a specialist for their surgery?

The type of surgery being performed identifies whether or not your dog may need to be referred to a surgical specialist. For example, orthopedic surgery requires a specialist, as do some types of emergency surgeries. Your veterinarian will refer you to a specialist as needed. The American College of Veterinary Surgeons defines the various veterinary surgical specialties and what the training entails.

Who will be monitoring my dog while under anesthesia?

Dog surgery is performed by a team of veterinarians and technicians. Some technicians are registered veterinary technicians who have additional schooling, licensing, and training in anesthesia. They are the team members who monitor the anesthetic procedures. The AVMA offers insight into when anesthesia is needed, and the entire process from start to finish. 

How long will my dog take to recover after surgery?

Post-surgical recovery is variable depending on what procedure was performed, any underlying conditions your dog may have, and how sensitive they are to the anesthetics used. 

Dog surgery recovery times are estimated to be:

  • 10 days for soft tissue surgeries, such as spays, neuters, and wound repairs
  • 1-2 weeks for oral surgeries
  • 2 weeks for more complicated procedures, such as severe wound repairs
  • 6 weeks to 6 months for orthopedic surgeries, depending on the type of surgery

How can I help my dog recover at home after surgery?

One of the most critical things we tell dog owners at North Peninsula Veterinary Emergency Clinic is to pay close attention to the discharge instructions provided, which you will receive following the procedure. Those instructions include detailed information about pain management, medications prescribed, incision care, and guidelines for their activity level. Activity restrictions are vital to the healing processes, as well as using an e-collar or cone during times when your pet will be unsupervised.

If you have further questions about dog surgery, and you live in or near the San Mateo, CA area, please call us at 650-535-3557.