Post-Surgery Care Instructions for Pets Following Wound Stitch-Up's

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.

You will find that we have shaved the fur around the wound in order to cleanse it thoroughly prior to surgery. Shaving the affected area around the wound also ensures that fur does not poke into the surgical site and that the area continues to stay clean after the surgery

The shaved area on your pet's front or back legs is the IV fluids and/or IV catheter site. 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

Your veterinarian or veterinary nurse will show you where your pet's surgical site is. 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 usually 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.

Wound Stitch-Up's Involving the Foot or the Paw

Depending on the location, some wound stitch-up's on the foot or paw may need to be bandaged. If your pet had a foot/paw bandage applied, this is usually removed by one of our veterinarians. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend that the affected paw remains bandaged and she will advise you the frequency in which your pet needs to come back to our clinic for bandage changes. It is imperative that the foot/paw bandage is kept clean and dry. Your pet should not be allowed to chew or lick at the bandage - if you notice him/her doing so, please place an E-collar on him/her.

We will also usually provide a foot bag to keep the foot bandage dry. Please place the bag provided over the foot/paw bandage when taking your pet outdoors, to prevent the bandage getting wet or dirty. This bag must not be left on while indoors as it can cause sweating under the bandage. 

Please check your pet's toes daily for swelling which would indicate that the bandage is too tight. A change in your pet's behaviour or demeanor is often an early warning sign that the bandage has become uncomfortable. If the bandage appears uncomfortable for your pet, becomes wet, oversoaked with wound discharge, is smelly and/oror shows signs of loosening, please contact us on (06) 3588675.


Exercise Restriction

Confinement to a small room or dry 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 and bandages have been removed. No off-leash or boisterous activity is recommended until all your pet's stitches and bandages 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 any 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 25 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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