The Definitive Guide to Canine Surgery Recovery

Hi there! You have likely found and are reading this guide about surgery recovery for one of three reasons:

  1. Your dog has an injury, foreign body or obstruction, torn ligament or ACL rupture, or you might be preparing for a spay or neuter surgery.

  2. You have been to the veterinarian recently and your dog was diagnosed
    with a condition that requires

  3. You’re considering surgery for your dog and want to be well prepared.

Sound about right?

If so, you’re in the right place. This definitive guide on surgery recovery will provide all the information you’ll need to address all three possibilities listed above. It is written by a real veterinarian, Dr. Marie Bucko, who has spent her life using her personal and career experiences to advocate for animals. By the end of this guide, you will be armed with the information you need to:

  1. Help a dog that already has had surgery

  2. Understand the possible complications associated with surgery and how to combat them

  3. Find and purchase key surgery recovery items that will make the days and weeks after surgery easier for you and your dog

  4. Begin implementing strategies to reduce your dog’s likelihood of developing any issues from their surgery

Let's get started!

In a hurry? Download a PDF checklist to bring to your dog’s presurgery appointment.

Table of contents

  1. 1. Common Surgeries and their

    a. Definitions

    b. ACL Surgery

    c. Fractures and Dislocations

    d. Belly Surgeries

    e. Spinal Surgeries

    f. Femoral Head Ostectomy

    g. Ear Surgeries

    h. Laryngeal Paralysis

    i. Amputation

  2. 2. Recovery Times
  3. 3. How to Prepare for Surgery
  4. 4. Useful Items
  5. 5. Surgery Suit
  6. 6. What to Expect for the Day of Surgery
  7. 7. Surgery Incisions and How to Manage Them
  8. 8. How to Prevent Surgery and Factors to Consider
  9. 9. Glossary of Terms

1. Common Surgeries and their

But First

click the button below if you’d like to read the story of Cash’s surgery success.

The most common dog surgeries are CCL repair, fractures and dislocations, belly surgeries, spinal surgeries, FHO, ear surgery, laryngeal paralysis and amputation.  Let’s dive into a brief summary of each one of these surgeries to gain an overview.

1.) ACL Surgery

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL/CCL) Surgery: Should we call this CCL?“In humans, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a thin connective tissue in the middle of our knees that connects our shin and thigh bones. In dog's this connective tissue is called the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) and it connects the dog's tibia (bone below the knee) to their femur (bone above the knee)”, Carolina Veterinary Specialists. According to Vet of the Rockies, “​​Dog CCL surgery requires making a small cut at the top of the tibia bone, which includes the weight-bearing part of the tibia, the tibial plateau. This is called an osteotomy, with the entire procedure known as tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO). The cut portion of the bone is rotated, reducing the slope of the tibial plateau. During the surgery, a veterinarian will also stabilize the parts of the bone using a plate and screws while the bone heals. You may be able to better picture this as a small, forced break that is used to reposition and stabilize the bone, which will help to stabilize the knee.”

Watch a short educational video about TLPO Surgeries here

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Surgery: Post-Operative Care

What might cause my dog to need ACL Surgery?

2.) Fractures

The Animal Surgical and Orthopedic Center provides excellent information for pet parents who have pets with fractured bones. “If your pet has a fracture (broken bone), it will almost always be obvious. You’ll notice significant lameness (limping), and your dog will try to limit the weight they put on the limb by holding it up. In severe cases with multiple broken limbs (such as a car accident or high fall), your dog might be unable or unwilling to move at all. Other signs of fractures include swelling, pain, or abnormal movement of the limbs. If you’re noticing any of these signs of a fracture in your pet, take them to a veterinarian right away if you haven’t already”, the ASOC states.

How do you know if your dog has a fracture? Your veterinarian will want to evaluate your pet to ensure the fracture and injury hasn’t caused any additional injury to the organs or internal body parts. Your vet will most likely choose to order x-rays for your dog to rule out any additional injuries and to identify the fracture.  It’s common for dogs to require sedation through the x-ray