Pre and Post Surgery Tips for your Pet

Your Veterinarian will give you a list of what to do/what not to do. This is just some things we do that we have found helpful with the many many surgeries we have had to deal with for all our elderly and special needs pets especially.

The vet will usually give you instructions for fasting from midnight before:

Clarify if this includes water too - I have found sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. For example, in a couple of cases, it was OK to leave water out till early morning, but then take it away.


Be prepared to have a spare room ready. Since I have multiple animals, this often meant the surgery patient needed to be put in a spare bedroom for the night or everyone was without food and water!


Transport the morning of surgery:


Make sure if it's a dog, they have on a harness so they can't collar slip as you walk them in and they become terrified and suddenly bolt across a parking lot into a busy street. A nearby vet clinic here in Austin had a dog get run over this way; it was awful.

If it's a cat, on the carrier, check all the little fasteners all the way around - they can become loose and the carrier suddenly separates with the same kind of awful situation potentially occurring. Also once you put them in the carrier, be sure the door is well latched - pull on it from the outside to make sure it can't pop open.

Cats can be hard to get into a carrier. Try backing them in.

For one of my cats, I have to use a carrier that has a top entry versus the traditional side entry.

For another, I would have to drop a heavy blanket on him, pick up the blanket with him in it, carry it into a small bathroom where I already had a carrier ready, then hold the blanket up to the carrier and let him run in quickly the shut the door! The bathroom ensured I didn't end up chasing him throughout the house culminating with him shoving himself between the headboard and the wall or the fireplace behind the gas logs.

Post Surgery:


Have potty pads on hand - if they're feeling loop from anesthesia they  may not give you their usual signal they need to go out.


For cats depending on the surgery, you may need a flat litter pan with a potty pad taped to the bottom so they don't have to balance on sliding litter or sliding potty pad! (use double sided tape on bottom of pad; some have adhesive corners).

Have a recovery room ready. Alex not only had to wear a cone, but be separated from the other animals for 2 weeks! 

Have soft foods on hand like plain, boiled, boneless chicken breasts and cooked white rice with a little low sodium broth, in case their system is upset from the anesthesia, or it was a dental surgery.

Make a medicine chart so you don't have to try to remember if you gave pain meds - or when you last gave them - as too much of those can be dangerous and even cause respiratory failure.

Ask for liquids or gels to be compounded if your pet does not take pills well (like most of mine) to ensure they get full dose or crush up in food; I have champion pill spitters....

Anesthesia can take longer to disspate from some pet's systems like older pets. Milo's recent surgery was over 36 hours before he was back to normal. However, call your Vet with any concerns (we always do!)