How Long Should a Dog Go Without Food Before Surgery?

by Jane Meggitt
Dogs scheduled for surgery shouldn't have food at least 8 to 10 hours prior to the operation.

Dogs scheduled for surgery shouldn't have food at least 8 to 10 hours prior to the operation.

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If your dog is scheduled for surgery, your veterinarian will tell you to withhold food for a certain period beforehand. For dogs, that's generally between eight and 10 hours. If you're scheduled to arrive at the veterinary hospital first thing in the morning, it's likely your vet will inform you beforehand not to allow your dog any food after midnight -- or earlier, if that's when you go to bed.

Dogs and Anesthesia

Surgery requires an empty stomach. That's the reason your dog can't have food for a significant number of hours before the procedure. If food is in the stomach, the risk of vomiting during anesthesia increases. When anesthetized, a dog can easily inhale bits of vomit into his lungs, resulting in aspiration pneumonia. Some vets allow animals access to water during the night before surgery; others prohibit it.

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About the Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.