Dog Surgery

Preparing For Your Dog's Surgery and Recovery

It’s normal to be nervous when your dog needs surgery. Whether your canine companion is scheduled for a routine spay or neuter or in need of a more complex procedure, you’ve likely gone online searching for answers to your questions about dog surgery. Unfortunately, the internet is filled with inaccurate information, and Dr. Google is not the best resource for learning about something as important as surgery.

At GeniusVets, we believe that veterinarians are the best source of pet care information. While you should always seek the advice of your veterinarian, we understand that pet parents need online sources of reliable information. That’s why we sent a few frequently asked questions about dog surgery to veterinarians and compiled their answers below. We still encourage you to contact your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s surgery. And if you don’t have one, you can use the GeniusVets Directory to find a vet near you.

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

Before your dog goes into surgery, it’s essential to understand why they need surgery and what the operation will entail. Your veterinarian will explain what you should expect, what type of aftercare your dog will need, and how long it will take for them to recover.

You should also talk to your veterinarian about what steps you’ll need to take to prepare your dog for surgery.

Ask your veterinarian the following questions about preparing your dog for surgery:

  • What time should I take away their food and water the night before surgery?
  • Is my dog allowed to exercise normally in the days leading up to surgery?
  • Can my dog take their usual medication the night before and morning of surgery?


Will my dog need lab work done before having surgery?


In addition to a comprehensive physical exam, most veterinarians require patients to have lab work before surgery. It is the best way to determine whether the patient is healthy enough for surgery and understand their overall metabolic stability.

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

Veterinarians use pre-surgery lab work to look at a few different indicators of how the anesthesia will be digested or metabolized.

Pre-surgery lab work on dogs reveals several things, including:

  • Kidney and liver values
  • Platelet counts
  • Blood sugar levels


Your veterinarian may check other values, too. The goal is to determine whether your pet has a higher-than-normal anesthetic risk and if they need to take any special precautions during surgery. The tests your veterinarian recommends are all about keeping your pet safe.


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

In many cases, dogs do not need to see specialists for surgery. If your canine companion needs orthopedic surgery or certain types of emergency surgery though, your veterinarian may refer you to a specialist. Your veterinarian will discuss all of this with you before scheduling your dog’s procedure.

Who will be monitoring my dog while under anesthesia?

Veterinarians and technicians monitor patients while they are under anesthesia. Registered veterinary technicians with special training in anesthesia are most often the veterinary professionals responsible for monitoring dogs during surgical procedures.

How long will my dog need to recover after having surgery?

Recovery times vary depending on what type of surgery your dog needs. Most soft-tissue surgeries - including spays and neuters, and wound repairs - heal within 10 to 14 days. Dogs generally recover from oral surgeries and extractions within a week or two. Orthopedic procedures could take anywhere from six weeks up to six months to heal.

Other factors could also delay your dog’s recovery from surgery, including:

  • Infection
  • Malnutrition
  • Improper aftercare
  • Age


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


Pay close attention to your veterinarian’s discharge instructions. They include vital information about medications and dosages for pain management, diet, and activity restrictions. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully, and do not hesitate to reach out to them if you have any questions or concerns. Also, contact your vet or seek emergency treatment if your dog experiences any severe complications following surgery.

For additional information about dog surgery, speak with your veterinarian. No vet? No problem! We’re here to help you find a trusted local veterinarian.