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FAQs & How-To Videos

Helpful things to know before and after your pet's surgery. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the journey that lies ahead.

How to prepare yourself & your home before surgery day

Frequently Asked Questions

Create a safe recovery space for your pet. For most procedures, you cannot allow them to run, jump, or play rough for 8-12 weeks after surgery to allow them to heal.

  • Create a small, confined area for them to rest while they are recovering. The best bet is an oversized crate because the roof of the crate prevents them from jumping up and down, but you could also use a baby gate to confine your pet to a bathroom, hallway, small bedroom, or laundry room. 

  • Make sure they cannot jump on and off any furniture.

  • Block off any access to stairs.

  • Most pets have trouble with slippery floors after surgery, and if they slip and fall, it can damage the surgery site. Cover any slippery floors with non-slip rubber-backed rugs.

Be aware that you must fast your pet the night before surgery—no food or water after midnight to prevent complications with anesthesia.

What happens on surgery day?

Drop your pet off at your veterinarian’s office in the morning. Know that they are in good hands, with teams from your regular veterinarian and OCMS taking excellent care of them.

There's no need for you to take off work on this day – keeping busy will help the time pass quicker.

You will receive a call from Dr. Hughes when your pet is out of surgery to let you know how things went and when your pet will be able to go home.

When you pick up your pet, a staff member from your regular veterinarian’s team will go through the discharge instructions and the list of medications with you, answering all of your questions so that you feel comfortable taking care of your pet at home.

Be aware that your pet may be a little anxious or may whine more than usual the first night they are home. Rest assured that this is not due to pain! They often “feel funny” from the various medications used to give them a pain-free, smooth ride during their surgery. By the next morning, they are typically back to normal, just a bit quieter than usual. Remember that they’ve been through a lot! It can take some pets 5-7 days to return back to normal energy levels after major surgery.

How will my pet poop & pee after surgery?

Pets will normally pee just fine after surgery.

  • For dogs, you may have to carry them or sling walk them outside to a patch of grass, but they will get the job done.

  • For cats, lift them into the litterbox if they cannot climb in themselves.

  • Because we give intravenous fluids during surgery, your pet may pee even more than normal. For the same reason, don’t be alarmed if it looks like they are not drinking a lot for the first day or so…they were well-hydrated during surgery.

Some pets will not poop until 3-4 days after surgery –and this is totally OK!

  • Remember that because they were not allowed to eat before surgery, there’s not a lot coming down the pipeline.

  • Some of the injections we give on the day of surgery can cause mild, temporary constipation. Stool softeners are not typically necessary.

  • If you have not seen your pet poop by Day 4, give your regular veterinarian a call.

How to safely return your pet to full activity after orthopedic surgery

Once your veterinarian has determined that things have healed enough, your pet will be allowed to gradually transition back to an active lifestyle. This will not happen until at least 8 weeks after surgery, sometimes longer.

So that your pet doesn’t overdo it too soon, aim for a 25% increase in activity per week so that it takes a full month to get back to unrestricted exercise and play.

Examples of how to transition back to full activity:

  • Slowly increase the length or frequency of walks.

  • Start with 5 minutes of unrestricted play, 2-3 times a day. This may be running, jumping, zoomies, chasing the ball…whatever makes your pet happy! Gradually increase the length or frequency of play sessions over time.

Your pet will likely get sore during this time. Remember that they are working hard to rebuild their strength, flexibility, and balance. Think of it as if you started a new gym membership. You would go work out, make yourself sore, and then have to take it easy for a couple of days to recuperate. But, then you come back even stronger! Same for your pet. If they get sore during this phase of healing, rest them for a couple of days, give pain medication, and then try again. Over time, you will see them get stronger and stronger.

For some pets, it can take up to a full six months after surgery for all signs of limping to go away – it’s a long road, so you and your pet will have to be patient! The majority of pets make a full recovery and are able to run, jump, and play without pain, which makes the whole journey worth it.


How to use ice packs & warm compresses after orthopedic surgery

There are many icepacks available at the drugstore or on Amazon, just like the one used in the video below. Many of these can also be used as warm compresses. Just follow the instructions that come with the pack.

Homemade icepack recipe

  • Pour a 32 oz bottle of Isopropyl alcohol +2 cups of water into a gallon Ziploc bag.

  • Add a little food coloring if you’re feeling festive.

  • Squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can before sealing it.  

  • For extra security against leaks, put the first Ziploc bag into a second Ziploc bag, squeeze the air out, and seal it.

  • Freeze for 1-2 hours.

  • Place the icepack in a pillow case before using it on your pet to protect their skin.

Homemade warm compress recipe

  • Fill a gallon Ziploc bag ½ full with uncooked rice or oats.

  • Squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can before sealing it.

  • Lay the baggie flat in the microwave and heat for 30 seconds, then test on your wrist to make sure it is not too hot.

  • Microwave in 15-second increments as needed to get it warm enough, but not too hot.

  • Place the warm compress in a pillow case before using it on your pet to protect their skin.

My pet has a bandage – how do I take care of it?

Check the bandage daily for dampness, odor, or slipping more than 1”. This can cause skin infections and cast sores, so the bandage needs to be changed ASAP call your regular veterinarian to arrange a time.

When you take your pet outside, cover the end of the bandage with a baggie to keep it clean and dry. Remove the baggie when you are back inside to let the end of the bandage breathe.

Do not allow your pet to lick, chew, or scratch at the bandage -- use a hard plastic e-collar at all times.

NO swimming or bathing until the bandage is removed.


What’s the deal with joint supplements?

Buyer beware! Unlike prescription medications, which are regulated by the FDA, supplements are not regulated in any way…not for people, and not for pets.

What does this mean for me and my pet?

  • The label can say whatever it wants, and it doesn’t have to be true. It does not have to be backed by independent research or verified by an outside lab.

  • Even if the ingredient list is accurate, that doesn’t mean that it absorbable by your pet’s body. This is why human supplements do not work on pets…their metabolism is different!

Why do we recommend Antinol to promote joint health and decrease inflammation?

  • It is all-natural, with only three ingredients:

    • Green-lipped mussel extract (125x more potent than green-lipped mussel powder,
      100x more potent than fish oil)

    • Vitamin E (antioxidant)

    • Olive oil (improves intestinal absorption)

  • Improved mobility in 90% of patients

  • Backed by independent research and third-party analysis

  • Member of National Animal Supplement Council (NASC)

    • Successfully passed a comprehensive third-party audit

    • Maintains ongoing compliance with random independent product testing and biennial audits

  • May also help with skin/coat, heart health, and brain function – studies are underway

  • No known drug interactions

  • Allergies or adverse reactions are exceptionally rare

If your regular veterinarian does not carry Antinol, you can order it at 

  • 5% off with code S6685386

  • Additional 5% off with autoship

picture of antinol packaging

How-To Videos

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