Frequently Asked Post-Op Pet Care Questions

Dr. Barry M. Baum, Chief of Staff, Center-Sinai Animal Hospital, Los Angeles full service veterinary and emergency pet care

Pet Health Care Articles by Dr. B

As is true before surgery, when people bring their pets back home after a general surgical, dental or other procedure requiring anesthesia, many questions can come up. A list of frequently asked questions follows.


When can my pet come home?

  • 1. In most cases your pet will be able to be sent home the same day — usually between 5-9 pm.
  • 2. All dental cleanings can go home the same day.
  • 3. Most spays and neuters can go home the same day.
  • 4. Major surgical procedures can result in longer stays. The doctor will inform you beforehand.

What are my responsibilities when my pet comes home?

  • 1. Provide a clean quiet environment.
  • 2. Allow access to “bathroom”
  • 3. Withhold food and water for an hour after returning home.
  • 4. When food and water are offered do so in small amounts.
  • 5. Restrict activity and keep indoors.
  • 6. Avoid interactions with other household pets if they prove stressful.
  • 7. Special instructions will be given on discharge from hospital.

What activities can my pet engage in?

  • Activity should be kept to a minimum for any animal with a surgical wound.
  • Short walks on a leash are OK.
  • Avoid any activity that stimulates running and jumping.
  • Interactions with other household pets are OK as long as there is no vigorous play.
  • After one week, activity can gradually be increased.

Is it OK to bathe a pet after surgery?

  • 1. Yes, but try to wait for at least 5 days. Avoid rubbing or brushing the incision vigorously.

What does a normal surgical incision look like?

  • The skin edges should be together.
  • It is normal for there to be some redness and a slight amount of swelling.
  • The redness and swelling should gradually decrease over several days.
  • Excessive swelling or seepage from the wound- apply warm compresses to the area for 2 or 3 minutes twice daily. If there is no improvement please return to the hospital for an examination.

How do I apply a warm compress?

  • Take a clean washcloth and soak it in warm (not hot) water. Gently place it over the affected area with slight pressure.
  • As the compress cools, re-soak and reapply.
  • It is OK to apply an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin onto the incision after the compressing is completed.

How should I care for a bandage or splint?

  • Keep it dry.
  • Although water resistant tape is used, it is advisable to cover with a plastic bag when there will be exposure to moisture.
  • Keep it clean- do not leave pet outdoors unattended.
  • Keep activity to a minimum.
  • Return to hospital if there are any foul odors.
  • Do not allow pet to chew bandage.
  • Return to hospital if bandage is wearing away or tearing

We also welcome client calls post surgery. If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to contact the doctor who performed the operation.

Center-Sinai Animal Hospital
10737 Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Phone: (310) 559-3770
Fax: (310) 559-9447

Thank you for coming to Center-Sinai. We wish your pet a very speedy recovery!

Dr. Baum answers frequently asked post-op pet care questions, such as can my pet come home the same day?New: If you have not yet scheduled surgery, you might want to see our Pre-Op Pet Care FAQs,  and if you are planning to bring your pet into Center-Sinai for surgery, now you can save yourself and your pet time and stress by using our online TimeSaver form.


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