Before your dog undergoes surgery, your veterinarian performs a pre-anesthetic evaluation. That includes taking his cardiac, respiratory and musculoskeletal state into consideration, along with the type of procedure and the approximate time length of the operation. Your vet then tailors a specific anesthesia plan for your pet. Once the surgery is finished, your dog must not only recuperate from the operation, but recover from the drugs that put him under.
If you can take your dog home from the vet on the same day as the surgery, expect your pet to be quite groggy. Let him rest in a quiet part of the house, away from your home's primary traffic areas. Keep him away from other pets and children. Depending on your dog's metabolism, the type of anesthesia used and the surgical procedure, it can take 12 to 24 hours for him to fully recover from the anesthesia. Completely normal behavior might not take place for a few more days.
Besides the sleepiness, some dogs might feel nauseous during anesthesia recovery. Your dog might throw up, although it's unlikely he has anything in his stomach since food is withheld for several hours prior to surgery. If your dog vomits or attempts to throw up, contact your veterinarian to report it.
Brachycephalic Breed Issues
Certain dog breeds are more prone to issues with anesthesia than others, but your vet will take this into consideration. If your dog is a brachycephalic, or short-nosed breed, he requires close monitoring during and after anesthesia. Brachycephalic breeds include the bulldog, pug, Japanese chin, boxer, shih-tzu, Lhasa apso, Boston terrier and Pekingese. Because their facial anatomy often leads to respiratory problems, your vet won't remove the endotracheal tube from a brachycephalic dog until he's fully recovered from anesthesia and appears active and alert. Otherwise, removing the tube before the dog is fully awake can result in an upper airway obstruction.
Other Breed Issues
Short-nosed dogs aren't the only ones needing special attention before and after anesthesia. Some breeds genetically metabolize anesthesia medications differently, including sighthound breeds, such as the greyhound and whippet and herding breeds like the collie. Your vet will choose the appropriate anesthesia medication for your dog, but it could take longer for the dog to recover. Keep thin dogs -- like many sighthounds -- warm during recovery with extra blankets, or raise the temperature in your home. Extra warmth is also necessary for toy breeds.
- PAWS Pet Hospital: What Should I Expect After Anesthesia with My Pet?
- Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital: What To Expect with Anesthesia
- Clinician's Brief: Breed-Specific Anesthesia
- American Animal Hospital Association: Anesthesia Guidelines
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Brachycephalic
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.