Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Surgery in Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

Surgical procedures are used to treat pets in a number of different circumstances. Knowing why and what to expect can give you peace of mind. Here, our vets in Brooklyn share some common types of surgeries for dogs along with important information about recovery and when emergency surgery might be needed.

Common Dog Surgeries

If your dog needs surgery, it will be one of two types: elective and non-elective (including emergency) procedures. We believe you must understand why a surgical procedure is being advised and that you can make informed decisions about your dog's health. Some of the most common surgeries for dogs include:

Elective Dog Surgery

Non-elective Dog Surgery

    • Skin lacerations or abscesses
    • Intestinal obstruction from a foreign body
    • Internal bleeding
    • Torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL or ACL)

Surgery often raises a slew of anxieties, from potential complications to the outlook for recovery. However, it should be noted that, because veterinary care has advanced to include all modern considerations, the likelihood of your dog experiencing serious consequences from most surgery are extremely low.

Can a dog have food or water before surgery?

There's one question that comes up often between vets and pet parents - 'Should dogs eat or drink before surgery?'. In most cases, you will be asked not to feed or drink anything to your pet after midnight the night before their surgery. This is for their safety as anesthesia will be used on your dog for the procedure.  If your dog is on medication, consult with your veterinarian about whether you should withhold the medication until after the procedure. Some veterinarians may also request that you bring your pet to the veterinary hospital overnight.

How long does it take for a dog to recover from surgery?

Soft tissue operations, such as spaying, neutering, or abdominal surgery, usually result in a faster recovery than procedures involving bones, joints, and ligaments. Many soft tissue surgeries heal about 80% after 2-3 weeks and may be completely healed in about 6 weeks.

Surgeries involving bones and ligaments will likely take much longer to heal and are usually around 80% healed after about 8 - 12 weeks, although it can take as long as 6 months for your pet to recover completely following surgeries such as those to repair a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL or ACL).

Do dogs recover well from surgery?

After your dog's surgery, both you and your furry friend may feel stressed, especially during the initial days. However, it is crucial to understand how you can take care of your dog and make them more comfortable once they are back home.

When your pet comes home, you will receive clear and specific instructions from your vet on how to care for them. It is important to follow these instructions carefully. Providing your dog with attentive care after surgery can make a difference in how quickly they recover. If you come across any points that you don't understand, be sure to ask for clarification. Even if you forget how to perform a specific instruction once you're home, it's best to call your vet and seek clarification. Your veterinary team is there to answer any questions you have about the post-surgery instructions.

Pet parents frequently feel guilty about limiting their dog's movements following surgery. However, keep in mind that dogs recover much faster from surgery than humans do, and by following your vet's post-op instructions, you are doing everything you can to help your dog recover quickly and return to their normal active lifestyle as soon as possible!

If you notice your dog shaking or coughing after surgery, there's usually no cause for alarm. A post-surgery cough is usually normal a few days after surgery resulting from a tube being placed for oxygen and anesthesia during the procedure. If it persists past the three-day mark, though, contact your vet.

Why would a dog need emergency surgery?

If your dog experiences an urgent or life-threatening situation or trauma, they may require emergency care including surgery.

There are some signs you can watch for that indicate a potential emergency such as loss of appetite, lethargy, pain, uncontrollable vomiting, inability to urinate, or bleeding.

Some emergencies might require surgery for your dog. They include:

  • Accidents or animal attacks
  • Injuries or falls resulting in broken bones and/or internal bleeding
  • Bloating or a stomach full of fluid and gas
  • Diagnosis of a cancerous or benign mass
  • Foreign objects stuck in the digestive system
  • Difficulties during the delivery of puppies or kittens

This is not an exhaustive list and you should reach out to your vet if your dog is showing any concerning signs or symptoms. Early detection is often critical for ensuring the best outcome possible for your dog.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog showing any signs or symptoms that indicate a medical issue? Please contact our Brooklyn vets today to schedule an examination.

New Patients Welcome

Heart of Brooklyn Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Brooklyn companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book OnlineContact