Skip to Content

Tips For Preparing Your Pet For Surgery

If your pet is facing an impending surgery, a plethora of concerns can run through an owner’s mind regarding financial worries, quality of care while hospitalized, and how to care for your pet post-surgery. To give you peace of mind while creating a calm environment for your pet, the best way to approach any visit to the veterinarian is to come prepared.

Many dogs and cats have already undergone surgery early in life when they are spayed or neutered, which helps new or first time pet owners familiarize themselves with how a surgical procedure is approached at a veterinary hospital. For those who adopted their pet later in life or have had minimal to no experience hospitalizing their pet, there are a few helpful ways to achieve the quickest and smoothest road to recovery for your pet.


Once you and your veterinarian have deducted that surgery is the best plan of action for your pet, you will schedule an appointment. Depending on the urgency of the situation, plan the day well in advance. If you work a job Monday through Friday, try to schedule the surgery accordingly so that you can be home with your pet over the weekend. If possible, avoid planning the surgery around times of stress such as holidays when family may be visiting, or vacations when your pet may need to be cared for by a sitter.

Discuss the day-of plan with your veterinarian, and go over any restrictions for your pet before bringing them in for their procedure. Your vet may suggest that you take away all food and fast your pet the night before surgery to prevent nausea. If your pet is on regular medications, discuss the possible interactions of these with any drugs or sedatives that might be administered during your pet’s procedure.

Many vets will also offer to vaccinate your pet while under anesthesia if they are due for their rabies, distemper, or for cats in need of the FIV vaccination as well.

Giving your pet a bath, a nail trim, and a good ear cleaning are all advisable before bringing them in for surgery. Freshly sutured wounds take time to heal, and you typically won’t be able to bathe your pet for several days or even weeks post-surgery. Some veterinarians will perform certain grooming tasks while your pet is under anesthesia for a small additional fee, don’t hesitate to investigate if your vet offers these services.

The Waiting Game

Often times, the veterinary hospital will request that you drop your pet off in the morning, and will give you a time range to return for pick-up. Upon arrival, you will be given a briefing of the procedure that your pet will receive that day, along with a consent form for you to sign, allowing the veterinarian to perform the said procedure and administer any medications needed. Because veterinarians see several patients in a day and may perform multiple procedures, the exact time of your pet’s surgery may not be able to be determined by hospital staff. It is important to provide a reliable phone number for the veterinary staff to reach you to ensure timely and clear communication regarding your pet’s status.

As concerning and stressful as it can be when waiting for your pet to come out of surgery, it is important to remember that they are in the hands of professionals who have often performed similar procedures countless times. Ultimately, your veterinarian has your pet’s quality of health and best interest in mind. Once your pet is in recovery, it remains a joint effort between your veterinarian and you to keep lines of communication open and your pet’s care a top priority.

Back to top