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Postoperative care for spinal patients (surgical)

Your dog has had a major surgical procedure and will require the following postoperative care. This information is a general guide; specific instruction will be given at the discharge consultation.

Spinal surgery temporarily weakens the muscular support of the back and careful rest is essential for the first six weeks to allow these tissues to regain their strength. A puppy cage is ideal for smaller dogs; alternatively you can make an enclosure out of a convenient corner. It is important that your dog does not attempt to race around, play with other dogs or jump up and down on furniture or stairs. During the rest period it is important to carefully take your dog outside four to five times daily on the lead with a harness (ideally) for toilet purposes and limited to the garden. You may need to assist your dog to walk until he/she is strong enough to manage; use folded towels or a sling to support them.

If your dog is unable to walk he/she may need turning at regular intervals in order to prevent bed sores. Bedding should be thick and soft- an old mattress or, for smaller dogs, cot mattress is ideal as a base. Puppy pads or incontinence pads are useful. If your dog needs assistance to urinate, our nurses will teach you how to express the bladder.

Postoperative care schedule

After six weeks of restricted exercise the exercise can be gradually increased over a four week period. An example is given below but this will vary depending on your dog’s activity levels:

  • Week seven: 3 x 10 minute walks on a lead daily.
  • Week eight: 3 x 15 minute walks on a lead daily.
  • Week nine to 10: gradual return to normal exercise.

Follow-up appointments

No specific follow-up appointment is required with us but we will arrange re-examinations if you encounter problems or difficulties. You will need to book an appointment at your own vet 10 days after the surgery for the staples to be removed from the wound.

If you are concerned about your pet’s progress or the surgical site, please contact your own vet in the first instance, they will then decide whether you need to be seen there or here.

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Clients have said
  • Everyone has always been so kind and Charlie absolutely loves his visits. The receptionists are particularly wonderful and are always on hand with a box of tissues for the numerous tears we’ve shed.

  • I just wanted to say how amazing Kimberly was today with me and my dog Rolo. She could see how upset I was, made me feel at ease and reassured me that Rolo would be okay. Her level of professionalism and kind nature helped me get through a difficult day

  • Lovely, caring staff, who go the extra mile. Wouldn’t go anywhere else.

  • I work as a registered vet nurse and had to come to Dovecote with my dog Alfie. I was squeezed in and was seen promptly by Sergio right after a long operation. He was so kind to Alfie and explained everything to my mom (who is not vet trained) and did Alfie’s MRI there and then even though it was going to make it a late finish. Unfortunately we had to make the call to put my lovely boy to sleep and Sergio and the nurses were really kind and helpful. I received your lovely card today and want to thank you all for your help and seeing him so quickly. I will be forever grateful.

  • Receptionists, physio, nurses and vets were all fantastic, every single member of staff is worth their weight in gold.

  • I had a very positive experience at Dovecote. I met the vet that day that was going to perform my dog’s surgery and I was immediately put at ease by his professional, friendly and caring consultation. All the staff I came in contact with were lovely, from the welcoming reception staff to the nurses I kept ringing through the evening! My dog is now back to her normal naughty self, I can’t thank them enough.

  • Think ‘The Supervet’ and that’s the level of care and professionalism. Highly recommend

  • The Supervets of the north!

  • Really good consultation with neurologist Sergio today with CT and MRI scan. Very well organised with helpful, professional staff.

  • Whole team were welcoming and made myself and my cat feel very comfortable! Mark Lowrie is fantastic!! Thank you for coping with me as a worried owner!


Every year Dovecote Veterinary Hospital deliver a number of free CPD evenings covering a wide range of topics from oncology to emergency critical care.

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