Have an account? Log in or

Frequently Asked Postoperative Questions

The postoperative period is a very important component to the overall outcome of your pet’s surgery. For this reason, we are providing you with answers to frequently asked questions that may arise during your pet’s recovery. If you have any questions you can reach us via our surgical treatment line: 503-964-6621.

What times can I call the Veterinary Surgical Center of Portland?
We are open from Monday at 7:30 am until Friday at 4 pm.  Monday through Friday, our hospital is staffed by Certified Veterinary Technicians (CVT) and highly skilled assistants.  During the overnight hours (Monday through Thursday), a CVT is on-site, caring for patients.  Our overnight CVT is available by phone at 503-964-6621 to address any questions or concerns that may arise.  On Fridays, we are available until 4:00 pm. If you have an urgent question when we are closed, please contact your pet’s regular veterinary office. If you have a non-urgent question, you can email us or leave us a voicemail.

If you feel your pet needs help immediately, please take him/her to the nearest veterinary emergency hospital as quickly as possible.

Where should I go if there is an emergency?
If you have an emergency during your pet’s recovery, we recommend taking him or her to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin or Dove Lewis ER & ICU Animal Hospital. If neither of these emergency facilities is convenient for you, please take him/her to a nearby 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital.

Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin
8250 SW Tonka Street
Tualatin, OR 97062
(503) 691-7922

Dove Lewis ER & ICU Animal Hospital
1945 NW Pettygrove Street
Portland, OR 228-7281
(503) 228-7281

Tanasbourne Veterinary Emergency
2338 NW Amberbrook Drive
Beaverton, OR 97006
(503) 529-5800

VCA SE Portland Animal Hospital
13830 SE Stark Street
Portland, OR 97233
(503) 255-8139

Does my pet need to wear an e-collar or inflatable collar even if I don’t see them bothering their surgical site?
Yes, even if you don’t witness your pet bothering the surgical site, we cannot supervise our pets every minute of the day. It only takes a few moments for a pet to lick at or even open their incision and a single instance could lead to complications.  The number one complication we see post-operatively is an infection caused by a patient licking the surgical area. The best way to avoid this complication is to make certain that your pet keeps the e-collar on at all times. We also recommend that your pet wears an e-collar even if a bandage is in place.

Can I send pictures of my pet’s surgical site to make sure it is healing properly?
Yes! You can email pictures to us and a staff member will get back to you as soon as possible.  Again, if it is over the weekend and you are concerned, please contact your pet’s regular veterinarian or seek care at an emergency veterinary hospital.

What should I do if my pet is constipated?
Some pets may not defecate for a few days after surgery. Anesthesia and pain medications can slow down the digestive process. Additionally, they are fasted prior to surgery which also makes them less likely to have a bowel movement. You can give pureed/canned pumpkin (without additives like high fructose corn syrup or sugar), which is a natural laxative (see guidelines below). If your pet is still straining to defecate or showing signs of constipation, please call our office for further instructions and recommendations.

Pumpkin – less 15 pounds – 1 teaspoon with each meal
15 pounds to 50 pounds – 1 tablespoon with each meal
50 pounds to 100 pounds – 2 tablespoons with each meal
100 pounds and over – 3 tablespoons with each meal

What should I do if my pet is not urinating?
Most of our surgery patients receive intravenous (IV) fluids during surgery and leave our hospital well hydrated. If your pet is not urinating on walks at home, they may not be drinking enough water or could be having undiscovered accidents (please check all bedding thoroughly). If they have not urinated for 24 hours and are drinking and all the bedding is dry please contact our office. A reluctance or inability to urinate could be due to other reasons (such as post-op pain medication) but, we need to figure out the cause.

What should I do if my pet is not eating?
It is not unusual for our post-operative patients to not eat for 24-hours after surgery. If they are still not eating after this period, you can try to give high-value treats or foods but, please call our office to check-in.  Inappetence can be a sign of nausea and/or pain and we want to ensure your pet is comfortable during his recovery.

What should I do if my pet has diarrhea or vomits?
If your pet experiences vomiting or diarrhea, please notify our office. If we are not open, please contact your regular veterinary office. If the situation is urgent, please take your pet to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital.  We recommend discontinuing specific medications if vomiting or diarrhea occurs.  Please check your pet’s medication labels and/or discharge instructions and discontinue those medications until you have spoken with a veterinarian.

How do I know if my pet is in pain?
Some pets will let you know they are in pain by whining or crying and restlessness.  More subtle signs of pain can include lethargy, excessive licking, panting, decreased appetite, and hiding. If you think your pet could be uncomfortable, please call our office to speak with a technician.

How can I prevent my pet from licking and/or chewing their incision?
The single most effective way to ensure your pet leaves the surgical site alone is to keep an e-collar and/or inflatable collar on them at all times during their recovery. Shirts, bitter sprays, etc. are often ineffective and a pet can very quickly pull out sutures or lick the area, which can lead to an infection. If your pet is able to reach the incision with an e-collar or inflatable collar on, we will need to refit him/her with one that effectively prevents them from reaching the area.

Do I need to wake up in the middle of the night to give medications?
Many of the medications we prescribe are given every 8-12 hours OR up to three times a day. If your pet was receiving medications in the middle of the night while hospitalized, you can adjust the dosing times to a schedule that is more convenient for you, such as before bed, early morning, and afternoon/evening. Once home, it is most important to keep the timing consistent, so your pet always has the medications in their system.

What is the best way to get my pet to take medication? What if I still cannot get him/her to take pills?
We recommend administering pills in a sticky substance like cream cheese or peanut butter, or in a high value treat such as a hot dog or meatball. Pill Pocket treats also work for some pets. If these suggestions do not work, we recommend physically giving your pet the medication. This is done by placing the pill as far back on their tongue as possible and gently keeping their mouth closed while stroking their throat until you feel or see the swallowing movement. If he/she licks their nose, it is also a sign of them swallowing. To avoid wasting any pills, this process can first be tried with a tiny piece of kibble or food roughly the size of the medication.  Our technicians can also demonstrate this process for you.

If you are still unable to get your pet to swallow the medication, we can sometimes have a special pharmacy compound the medication into a liquid. Please know that it takes a couple of days for the medications to be made and delivered and is generally more expensive than pills. If you think it will be easier to get your pet to swallow a liquid, please let us know and we can investigate ordering compounded medications for them.

When can I expect my pet to be walking on their leg entirely?
The will likely be toe-touching and lightly using the leg when they leave the hospital. You should see a gradual increase of prolonged use of the leg over the next 7-14 days. In most cases, we see consistent use of the leg by the 2-week recheck appointment.

When can my pet have a bath?
Bathing after surgery is at the surgeon’s discretion. Make sure to ask about bathing at your pet’s recheck appointments, and only give them a bath when you are told it is okay to do so. Unfortunately, this may not be until after they have fully recovered.  You can purchase “dry” shampoo at the pet store or use hypoallergenic baby wipes for spot cleaning in the interim.