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Postoperative care for orthopaedic surgical patients

Your dog has had a major orthopaedic procedure and will require the following postoperative care.

The night after the operation he/she may be sleepy and not particularly hungry. Offer something tempting but if your pet will not eat, don’t worry. Leave fresh water within easy reach, and allow him/her to sleep. He/she will not require any medication until the following morning.

Cage or small-room rest will be necessary all the time in the immediate postoperative period, and for part of the time for at least the first six weeks.  A puppy cage is ideal for smaller dogs and cats, alternatively make an enclosure out of a convenient corner. It is important that your pet does not race around, play with other pets or jump up and down on furniture or stairs.

Anti-inflammatory analgesics should be given at the dose prescribed for as long as we or your own vet advises. We will check that you have a supply of these, before you leave.

The surgical wound is covered by a primapore dressing. This is to protect it from dirt, and it will be removed by your own vet in two to three days. Do not worry if it falls off before then. Do not allow your pet to lick the wound as this will make it sore and may introduce infection. If necessary, apply an Elizabethan collar.

A cast or support dressing may have been applied to the limb. In this case, you will be given specific instructions at the discharge consult.

Postoperative care schedule

  • First three days: Strict cage rest, for dogs, out into the garden ON THE LEASH to do his/her business then straight back to bed. You should be giving anti-inflammatory analgesics as instructed at the dismissal consult.  
  • Day three: Visit your usual vet for post-op check of the wound. Your vet will advise on the continued dosage of anti-inflammatories.
  • Day three to 14 (follow-up appointment at Dovecote): For dogs, gradually work up to five minutes walking ON THE LEASH three times daily. Your dog is to be on the leash at all times when not in bed.
  • Day 10 to 14: Arrange to visit your own vet for staple/stitch removal.
  • Day 14: Follow-up appointment at Dovecote. This is a visual check and there is no need to bring your pet starved, unless advised to do so by your own vet. Morning appointments are preferred as, if there is a problem requiring admission, it can be dealt with on the day. The surgeon will assess gait, range of movement and pain control and will advise you how to proceed with regard to anti-inflammatory drugs and exercise. We will also remove staples/sutures if this has not already been done by your own vet.
  • Six weeks: Postoperative X-rays to assess the implants. This will require admission at Dovecote for the day, so bring your pet starved for a general anaesthetic. Please feed your pet at about 8pm the night before, and then give no further food before admission; you may leave the water bowl down until 7am in the morning. Please note that postoperative X-rays are not included in the cost of the operation, therefore there will be a charge.

Follow-up appointments

  • Two to three week visual check.
  • Six week post-op X-rays

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
  • 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!

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

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

  • 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

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

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • The Supervets of the north!


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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