How will I take care of my pet following surgery?

Care of the incision:

You should monitor your pet’s incision at least once daily for evidence of infection. Infection generally appears as a painful red swelling associated with the incision. Other incisional problems include separation of the incision line. This is most commonly associated with infection or a pet licking or chewing at the incision. If you see your pet chewing at the incision he/she will need to wear an Elizabethan (a.k.a. lampshade) collar until the sutures or staples are taken out. Sutures are generally taken out around 2 weeks following the surgery.

Activity restriction:

Following surgery your animal will need to be confined to a crate or small room for 8 weeks. Slippery floors such as hardwood and ceramic tile should be avoided. Your pet should not be allowed to play with other animals or children and should be kept away from stairs. He or she should be taken outside 4 to 5 times per day to urinate and defecate. Your pet should be on a leash at all times when outside for at least 8 weeks.

Physical therapy:

Physical therapy following surgery for patellar luxation repair consists of massage and performing range of motion, as well as knowing when to start activities to encourage your pet to use the affected limb properly. Most dogs will place significant weight on the operated leg within 5-6 days of surgery. If your pet is not using the leg within 7-10 days post surgery then you should more closely follow the suggested range of motion exercises with him/her at least 3 times per day on the operated knee. Your veterinarian can instruct you about the specifics of physical therapy if indicated.

Recheck examinations:

Rechecks are generally scheduled for 2 weeks following surgery for suture removal and 6-8 weeks for final recheck examination. Xrays may be taken at specific intervals to evaluate healing. If your pet is doing well at that time no additional rechecks will be needed.


Your veterinarian will provide you with instructions about medications to be taken following knee surgery. Generally some type of pain medication will be administered for 5 to 7 days following surgery.

General care:

Following any surgery you should also be sure that your pet is eating and drinking normally without vomiting, diarrhea or prolonged anorexia. You should also be aware of your pet’s general attitude and make sure that he or she interacts normally with your family members, is able to sleep normally and is not unusually lethargic. If you notice anything significantly out of the normal in reference to the above habits you should contact your veterinarian.