Post-Surgical Instructions

Catalina Veterinary Specialists
[email protected]
(520) 312-0003

Michael Singer, DVM, Diplomate ACVS

Post-Operative Care

Watch post-operative orthopedic instructions video here.

Exercise restrictions are very important after surgery. You will be given detailed instructions at discharge. The following is an abridged version of the orthopedic instructions so you know what will be expected:

  • In general, walking is good, anything else is bad. You must have control over your pet AT ALL TIMES. To do this, use a cage and a leash. When you are busy or not around, keep your pet in a cage for his/her own safety. When able, take him/her out of the cage but only with a leash. Make the walks SLOW to encourage weight bearing. Do NOT allow running, jumping, playing or slipping/falling. Sit with him/her on the floor, NOT on furniture. Attach the leash to your arm or belt so you will be aware if he/she moves.
  • Do NOT allow your pet on beds and do NOT allow free access to stairs. You will be given a sling for use on stairs and slippery surfaces, or at any time your dog may be unsteady. You don’t have to lift your dog with the sling, but you should use it to “catch” and support your dog if he/she slips.
  • Days 1-10: Limit walks to 5-10 minutes, 3 times daily. Make them slow and controlled. If your dog is holding up the leg, this doesn’t count. The walks need to be slow and deliberate to encourage limb usage.
  • Weeks 2-8: Gradually increase walks to 20 minutes, 3 times daily. Do this by adding 3-5 minutes every 7-10 days to the walks. Do not increase the lengths of the walks unless your pet is using the leg. You can gradually increase the pace…but walking only! X-rays are usually taken at the 8 weeks recheck (there is a charge for the x-rays).
  • 2 months to 4 months: As long as your pet is progressing, at this time we start unlimited walking. It is still important to use a leash at all times and to prevent any running or jumping.
  • 4 months to 6 months: At this point you can start a gradual return to normal function. A good idea is to purchase an extendable leash to allow your dog to jog a little while still maintaining control and preventing uncontrolled running. Slowly add more activity gradually during this period.
  • Crates can be purchased at any pet store, or you can try EBay and search for “fold-up crates.”

Post-Operative Care Preparation


  • Have all crates and baby gates assembled before you bring your pet home.
  • Be sure all crates and other areas your pet will be using have non-slip mats and/or rugs.
  • Be sure all stairs/doorways are blocked by baby gates.
  • Please remove all furniture (couches, chairs, etc…anything they can jump to or from) from rooms your pet may be restricted to or will frequently use.
  • Please bring a second person or crate to pick up your pet (and for routine rechecks) to restrain him/her while in your vehicle.
  • Be sure you have a non-retractable leash, maximum of 4 feet long.
  • If your pet is very active and has a tendency to pull when walked, a Gentle leader may be a good alternative. Please feel free to ask for more information.
  • If your pet has had neck or airway surgery, please purchase a harness for walking.
  • While your pet is being crated you may want to purchase toys such as a Kong to keep him/her busy and help prevent boredom. Feel free to ask a technician if you would like other suggestions.


  • Please confine your cat to a crate or small room with no furniture or other items they can jump on/off.
  • If using a crate, please be sure it is large enough to include, food, water, a litter box and bed with room for comfortable movement. An upside-down pack and play works well.
  • Please be sure all exercise is supervised and controlled, preferably in a small, unfurnished room +/- with a harness and leash.
  • To help keep bandages/incisions clean and dry we recommend “Yesterdays’ News” cat litter or shredded newspaper.
  • Depending on the type of bandage, your cat may have difficulty accessing the litter box. A litter pan is an alternative option that can help with this.

Information on Pre-Surgical Instructions

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