Post-Surgery Care Instructions for Pets Following Abdominal Surgery

What to Expect

After coming home from the clinic, your pet should be kept in a warm, dry, quiet and ideally indoor location in the 24 hours following discharge. If your pet is discharged on the same day that he/she had surgery, they may still be a little bit drowsy after they go home with you. There may also be some irritability or incoordination during this initial 24-hour period immediately after the surgery.

The shaved area on your pet's front or back legs is the IV injection, IV catheter and IV fluid site(s). Some bruising to this area may be seen when they go home with you; however, if this persists beyond 72 hours, please give us a call at the clinic. You may also find that the underside of their paw may have been shaved - this allowed the placement of blood pressure monitoring equipment, so that we could monitor their progress under anaesthesia closely. 


Surgical Site and Wound Care

The surgical site is located under the abdomen. Some pets may have a light bandage applied over their surgical wound after surgery, and this is usually removed at home about 24-48 hours after the surgery. Your veterinarian or veterinary nurse will advise you when is an appropriate time to remove the bandage at home. There are several sutures present on the surgical site - it is helpful to count the number of stitches present when your pet first goes home with you, so that you will know if any goes missing before the wound is fully healed.

The surgical site should be checked daily for swelling, discharge or loss of sutures. It is important that you keep your pet in a clean and dry environment so that the surgical wound remains clean. Pets should not get bathed or allowed to get their wound wet in any way, until all the stitches have been removed. For cats - please only use shredded paper or non clumping litter in the litter tray to prevent the litter material from sticking to the wound.

It is also imperative that your pet is not allowed to lick at the surgical site because this may lead to the wound splitting open before it is fully healed and/or wound infections and/or other more serious complications. If you notice your pet licking or chewing at the surgical site, he/she will need to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent this. E-collars may be purchased from our clinic reception. Ensure that pets are not allowed to roam outdoors without close supervision when they are wearing an E-collar, as this poses a choking hazard if it gets caught in a fence or branch.


Histopathology Results

If your pet underwent abdominal surgery in order to remove a mass, the excised mass will be sent away to an external lab for histopathology with your permission. A veterinarian will contact you with the results as soon as they are back from the lab – this typically takes up to 10 working days. Please ensure that your contact details are up to date so that we have a number to reach you at.


Exercise Restriction

Strict confinement to a small room or indoor area is necessary until all the stitches have been removed. It is important that all dogs are toileted on a lead. Dogs should also only receive light lead exercise only until all stitches have been removed, then gradually increase exercise over the next 2 weeks. No off-leash or boisterous activity is recommended until all your pet's stitches are removed. Your pet should avoid excessive physical activity such as running around or jumping onto/off items of furniture. Cats should remain indoors until the surgical wound is fully healed.



Unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian or veterinary nurse at the time of discharge, no significant change is usually required to your pet's diet following surgery. A small portion of your pet's diet should be fed in the evening that they come home with you, and then resume feeding normal portions in the morning. It is not unusual for some loss of appetite to occur in the first 24 hours following discharge from our clinic; however, if this persists, please give us a call at the clinic on (06) 3588675. 


Suture Removal

Sutures are typically removed 10 to 14 days after the surgery. Occasionally, your veterinarian may decide to "stage" the suture removal in that half of the stitches come out in 14 days', and the remainder comes out 5-7 days' later. Please phone for an appointment to book your pet in for suture removal.



Your pet would have received additional pain relief medications after their surgery, and some pets may also have oral medications to go home with. Please administer all medications as directed on the label; ensure that antibiotics and pain relief medications are given with a meal.



Should you have any enquiries or further concerns about the post-operative care of your pet, please do not hestitate to phone us at (06) 3588675 to discuss.



Published by Cahill Animal Hospital on 23 July 2016
The team at Cahill Animal Hospital is here to provide you and your pet with the best possible medical, surgical and supportive care. Our motto "We care as much as you do" is a very important part of our day to day work. We are committed to providing you and your pet with the best options for care.

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