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Preparing Your Dog For An Orthopedic Surgery: A 9-Step Guide

Orthopedic surgery in dogs is a complex yet often necessary medical procedure. These surgeries are used to treat various conditions, including broken bones, torn ligaments, and muscle injuries. When your dog faces such a challenge, preparing for surgery is essential.

Is your furry friend facing surgery soon? This detailed guide is here to help both of you prepare for a successful recovery.

Preparing Your Dog For An Orthopedic Surgery: A 9-Step Guide

Communicate With Your Veterinarian

The initial stage in preparing for orthopedic surgery for dogs involves consulting your veterinarian.

Discuss your dog’s medical history and leave no detail uncovered.

Ask your vet about the specific orthopedic surgery your dog needs, including its risks and benefits.

They’ll guide you in prepping your dog for the big day.  

Fast Your Dog While Prioritizing Proper Nutrition

Most veterinarians might suggest withholding food and water from your dog 12-24 hours before surgery.

This fasting helps prevent your dog from vomiting during or after surgery. It’s a necessary step, but your veterinarian will guide you through it.

While fasting your dog before surgery is standard practice, the days leading up to the procedure also call for attention to proper nutrition.

Feeding your dog an appropriate pre-surgery diet will keep their body in optimal condition for the operation.

It might include high-quality pet food or specific nutritional supplements, as your vet advises.

Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce swelling and pain after surgery.

For dogs with health issues like obesity or diabetes, the vet may prescribe a special diet to address these problems before the surgery.

Aligning with your veterinarian’s nutritional guidelines will physically prepare your dog for the demands of surgery, contributing to a smoother procedure and recovery.

Get Your Dog Groomed

Grooming your dog before orthopedic surgery is a practical step that can aid in their recovery.

Long hair near the surgical site may trap dirt and bacteria, leading to infections.

By grooming your dog, and particularly by trimming the hair around the surgery site, you can minimize the risk of infection.

A well-groomed dog is more manageable after surgery, especially if wearing a bandage.

Talk to your vet or a professional groomer to ensure the grooming is done right.

Plan A Pre- And Post-Surgery Exercise And Rehabilitation Routine

Before surgery, focusing on pre-surgery conditioning and strengthening exercises is beneficial for dogs.

Low-impact exercises help maintain muscle tone, even if your dog is facing surgery.

However, avoid activities that could add strain to the area that will be operated on.

After surgery, rehabilitation plays a crucial role in healing.

Working with a veterinarian or a physical therapist for animals to create a tailored routine can make all the difference in your dog’s recovery.

Prepare A Comfortable Recovery Area

Creating a calm, comfortable recovery area is a thoughtful way to welcome your dog home after surgery.

Think about your dog’s specific needs, and consider providing a low, padded surface to make lying down and getting up easier.

It’s important to keep fresh water and food within easy reach.

Consider using non-slip flooring to assist with stability.

Accessibility is key, so make sure the recovery area is on the same floor as their most frequented areas to avoid stairs.

If other pets or children may disturb your dog’s rest, take measures to keep them separated.

Making an environment free from loud noises or unnecessary disturbances will allow your dog to rest and heal with minimal stress.

Prepare Your Dog Mentally And Emotionally

Like humans, dogs can become stressed over new and sometimes scary experiences. Hence, it’s normal for your dog to feel increased anxiety leading up to the day of their orthopedic surgery.

To alleviate this, maintain a calm demeanor, sticking to regular routines as much as possible.

Introduce any pre-surgery medications or handling procedures gradually, using positive reinforcement to create a positive association.

Spend quality time with your dog, reassuring them with gentle touches and soothing voice tones.

If your dog will be in a crate or specific recovery area after surgery, get them used to it gradually before the procedure to reduce stress.

If your dog’s behavior changes significantly, consult a veterinary behaviorist or a dog trainer.

They’ll tailor strategies to fit your pet’s needs.

Jack Russell Terrier dog wearing an e-collar after surgery.

Bring A Leash And Collar

Bringing a leash and collar to the clinic on surgery day is essential to ensuring your dog’s safety during recovery from anesthesia.

Post-surgery, your dog may feel disoriented or even frightened, and a familiar leash and collar can give them a sense of security.

Sometimes, vets might suggest a specific collar—maybe a soft one—to stop your dog from fussing with the surgical site.

Having these items on hand lets you maintain control over your dog, helping to prevent accidental injury as they regain their faculties.

Ask About Pain Medication

Pain management is a vital aspect of your dog’s recovery from orthopedic surgery.

Modern veterinary medicine offers a variety of pain management options, including injections, oral medications, and even patches that release medication over time.

Discuss with your vet the best ways to ease your dog’s pain after surgery.

Age, weight, and the exact procedure will be part of the conversation.

You must understand the side effects and know the administration schedule.

By maintaining an open dialogue with your veterinarian, your dog receives the proper care to minimize discomfort during the recovery period.

Be Prepared For The Aftercare

Aftercare following orthopedic surgery for dogs can be a long and challenging process.

Your veterinarian will provide you with specific instructions.

They’ll include how to monitor stitches for signs of infection, how to assist your dog with mobility, and when to schedule follow-up appointments.

Keeping the surgical site clean and dry is necessary to prevent complications.

You’ll also be instructed on how to apply warm or cold compresses to reduce swelling.

Adhering to activity restrictions is vital, as it allows the surgical site to heal properly.

Following a gradual return to normal activities, under the guidance of your veterinarian, ensures that your dog recovers fully without unnecessary setbacks.


Preparing your dog for orthopedic surgery is a multifaceted process, and each step contributes to the overall success of the surgery and recovery.

Remember, your veterinarian is your best ally on this journey.

Follow their guidance and approach each stage with care and compassion.

Pet owners, remember that your care and commitment will guide your dog’s recovery.

Trust the process, and if you have any worries, your vet is just a phone call away. Your dog is counting on you!


Monday 13th of November 2023

This is filled with so many good suggestions. Thank you

Antoinette M

Tuesday 19th of September 2023

Thank you for this helpful information.

Bea LaRocca

Tuesday 8th of August 2023

Thank you for sharing this guide for preparing a dog for surgery


Saturday 5th of August 2023

I’m sure this will help many people!

Marisela Zuniga

Wednesday 2nd of August 2023

Thanks for sharing this information

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