Surgical FAQs

When should I have my pet spayed or neutered?

The best time is between 4 to 6 months of age. However, it can be done at most ages.

Why does my pet need to be admitted several hours before a surgical procedure?

There are several time-consuming steps that must be taken before your pet’s surgical procedure. In preparation for the procedure, your pet will receive:

  • A comprehensive physical exam by the veterinarian
  • Pre-anesthetic bloodwork
  • Premedication to ease anxiety and to smooth the induction of anesthesia
  • Placement of an intravenous catheter to deliver medications and fluids that support blood pressure and organ function during anesthesia

All of the above must be completed BEFORE your pet’s scheduled procedure time.

What should I bring for my pet's hospital stay?

Most pets are released the same day as surgery, so there is nothing you need to bring from home.

When my pet is having surgery, when should I expect an update on his/her status?

You will receive a call as soon as possible after a surgical procedure. If there are any abnormalities revealed by the pre-anesthetic exam or blood work, you will receive a call prior to the procedure in case we need to change plans.

After surgery, when will my pet be able to go home?

Most pets are ready to go home the same day of surgery.

Is anesthesia safe for my pet?

At Green Prairie Animal Hospitals, we take all anesthetic cases very seriously. We thoroughly screen all of our patients to make sure there are no hidden complications by performing exams before every anesthesia procedure and by requiring minimum baseline lab testing based on species, breed, and age. In addition, we utilize multimodal pain management, which reduces post-operative pain and reduces the depth of anesthesia we use, thereby increasing safety.

All of our patients who undergo procedures of more than five minutes have an IV catheter and fluids to help bolster their blood pressure. We use extensive monitoring of our patients under anesthesia, using our ECG, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, temperature, and end tidal CO2 monitors. One member of our medical team is assigned to your pet through the entire process, from initial exam, through pre-anesthetic medications and anesthesia, and then post operatively. For your pet’s safety, we only perform one surgical procedure at a time. We use an objective pain scoring system in order to ensure that if your pet is in pain, he/she will immediately get the relief needed.

How do I know if my pet is in pain?

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if your pet experiences pain. If you are not sure, but suspect your pet may be hurting or is just not acting right, contact us to schedule an examination. Some signs of pain are more obvious, such as limping or crying. Some signs are more subtle and can include: not eating, a change in behavior or normal habits, and acting lethargic and having less energy. Of course, these symptoms may also have difference causes; when in doubt, call us and come in!

Answers to commonly asked questions after your pet goes home after surgery


Decreased appetite is very common during illness, as well as after surgery. There are several strategies you can try to encourage your pet to eat:

  • Offer favorite foods or treats
  • Warm the food slightly above room temperature to increase the odor and taste
  • Some dogs may be willing to eat cat food because of its oilier and fishier taste
  • Some pets like low-sodium chicken/beef broth or chicken baby food. These can be fed alone or in addition to regular pet food.

Bandage, Cast, or Splint is Wet, Soiled, or Has Come Off

If the bandage becomes soiled, damp, chewed, or chewed off, please do not re-bandage at home. Duct tape and other items can trap moisture within the cast/bandage, causing inflammation of the skin and tissues. In some cases, bandages applied inappropriately at home can even cut off the circulation to the foot. Call us immediately if you have concerns about your pet’s bandage. Confine your pet to a single room or similar small area until you can contact us and we can advise you to whether the bandage needs to be replaced. After a cast or splint is first removed, it may take one to two weeks for your pet to become accustomed to using the leg without the splint.

Constipation and Bowel Movements

Difficulty having bowel movements can be expected after illness, anesthesia, or surgery. It may take a few days for the gastrointestinal system to return to normal function. Fortunately, it is not vital for your pet to pass a stool on a regular daily basis. However, please contact us if your pet has not passed a stool within 72 hours of discharge from the hospital or appears to be straining to defecate.

Crying and/or Whining

Although vocalizing can indicate discomfort, it is usually not a sign of pain (instinctively most pets will not vocalize because in the wild, this would attract predators!). Often, pets vocalize due to the excitement or agitation that they feel upon leaving the hospital and returning to their familiar home environment. If crying or whining is mild and intermittent, you may simply monitor the situation. If vocalization persists, please contact us for advice. In some cases, a sedative may be prescribed or pain medication may be adjusted.


Diarrhea may be seen after hospitalization. This can be caused by change in diet but is more commonly caused by the stress of being away from home. Certain medications prescribed to your pet may also cause diarrhea. If no blood is noted in the diarrhea, feed your pet a bland diet for two to three days to help the digestive tract get back to normal. If the diarrhea is bloody, lasts longer than 12-24 hours, or if your pet becomes lethargic or vomits, please contact us immediately. We do NOT recommend using any over-the-counter medication to treat the diarrhea.


We rely on you to keep the e-collar on your pet. While they may not enjoy it initially, they will enjoy even less having to return to our office for a recheck visit to repair an incision that has been chewed open. And, they will need to wear the collar for an even longer period if this happens! Most pets become accustomed to the collar within one or two days and they can eat, sleep, and drink with it on.

Implant or Hardware is Visible or Exposed

Immediately confine your pet to a single room or a cage, contact us, and come in so that the vet can recheck the surgery site.

Injury to Surgical Site

If, for any reason, you suspect that your pet has reinjured the surgical site, confine your pet, and contact us immediately for advice.

Medication Refills

If you have given your pet all the pain medication prescribed, and you feel your pet still has discomfort, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss refilling the pain medication.


Despite the medications we have prescribed, some pets will still show signs of pain at home, such as restlessness, inability to sleep, poor appetite, lameness, or tenderness at the site of surgery. Please confine your pet to limit his/her activity. Then, contact us immediately so that we may dispense or prescribe additional medication or therapies as necessary to keep your pet comfortable.


This is commonly seen after surgery. It may indicate soreness, but is often due to anxiety. Please contact us, and we can help determine whether additional pain medication is advised. We will be happy to recheck your pet for your peace of mind.

Seroma (Fluid Pocket)

In any healing surgical area, fluid produced during the healing process may collect and form a seroma (fluid pocket). Fortunately, this is not painful and does not impair the healing process. Eventually, the body reabsorbs the fluid, so if the seroma is small, we typically will leave it alone. If it is large, we may remove the fluid with a needle and syringe, or even place a drain. If you notice a seroma developing, please contact us. We may wish to recheck the area to ensure there is no infection.

Shaking and/or Trembling

This is a very common response to physiological stress after surgery, injury, or any other health abnormality. The amount of shaking or trembling may be dramatic, but it does not suggest severe pain, cold, or distress. It may involve the entire body, or just the area of surgery. It is most noticeable in the first five to seven days post-operatively, and typically subsides in one to two weeks. If there are signs of pain, such as restlessness, lack of appetite, or excessively crying out, please contact us.


Some pets may urinate less after surgery or may seem to be unable to control urination. This is usually temporary and may be a side effect of medication, anesthesia drugs, or difficulty assuming “the position” to urinate. Please contact us if your pet has not produced urine for more than 12-24 hours. Many pets initially drink less after returning home, so expect less urination at first.


An episode or two of vomiting is occasionally seen after surgery or anesthesia. If the vomiting continues, blood is noted in the vomit, or if your pet is not holding down any food or water, please contact us.