Dog Acting Different After Surgery: What to Expect and How to Help


If your dog has recently undergone surgery, you may notice some changes in their behavior.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to act differently after surgery, and understanding why this happens can help you provide the necessary care and support during their recovery.

In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind a dog acting different after surgery and provide tips on how to help them through this challenging time.

Why is My Dog Acting Different After Surgery?

  1. Pain and Discomfort: One of the primary reasons why dogs may act differently after surgery is because they are experiencing pain and discomfort. Just like humans, dogs need time to heal, and the recovery process can be uncomfortable. Your dog may exhibit signs of pain such as whimpering, restlessness, or reluctance to move.
  2. Medication Side Effects: Dogs are often prescribed pain medication and antibiotics after surgery to manage pain and prevent infection. These medications can have side effects that may cause your dog to act differently. Common side effects include drowsiness, loss of appetite, and gastrointestinal upset.
  3. Anesthesia Recovery: Dogs are typically put under anesthesia during surgery, and it can take some time for the effects to wear off completely. During the recovery period, your dog may appear disoriented, groggy, or have difficulty walking. This is normal and should improve as the anesthesia leaves their system.
  4. Change in Routine: Surgery often requires changes in your dog’s routine, including restricted activity, limited access to food or water, and wearing a cone or bandage. These changes can be stressful for your dog and may contribute to their altered behavior.

How to Help Your Dog During Recovery

  1. Follow Post-Surgery Instructions: It’s crucial to follow your veterinarian’s post-surgery instructions carefully. This may include administering medication, keeping the surgical site clean, and limiting your dog’s activity. By following these instructions, you can help ensure a smooth recovery for your furry friend.
  2. Provide a Comfortable Environment: Create a quiet and comfortable space for your dog to rest and recover. Make sure they have a cozy bed, access to fresh water, and a calm environment free from loud noises or excessive activity.
  3. Monitor Pain Levels: Keep a close eye on your dog’s pain levels and behavior. If you notice signs of increased pain or discomfort, contact your veterinarian for guidance. They may need to adjust the pain medication or provide additional support.
  4. Maintain a Balanced Diet: Proper nutrition is essential for your dog’s recovery. Ensure they are eating a balanced diet that supports healing. If your dog has a decreased appetite, consult with your veterinarian for recommendations on how to encourage them to eat.
  5. Engage in Gentle Exercise: While your dog may need to limit their activity during the recovery period, it’s essential to engage in gentle exercise to prevent muscle stiffness and promote circulation. Consult with your veterinarian on appropriate exercise routines for your dog’s specific condition.
  6. Provide Mental Stimulation: Keeping your dog mentally stimulated can help distract them from any discomfort they may be experiencing. Offer puzzle toys, interactive games, or gentle training sessions to keep their mind engaged.


It’s normal for dogs to act differently after surgery due to pain, medication side effects, anesthesia recovery, and changes in routine.

By understanding these factors and providing the necessary care and support, you can help your dog through their recovery period.

Remember to follow your veterinarian’s instructions, create a comfortable environment, monitor pain levels, maintain a balanced diet, engage in gentle exercise, and provide mental stimulation.

With your love and care, your dog will be back to their happy and healthy self in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long will my dog act differently after surgery?

A: The duration of your dog’s altered behavior can vary depending on the type of surgery and individual factors.

In most cases, dogs start to return to their normal behavior within a few days to a couple of weeks.

However, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian for a more accurate estimate based on your dog’s specific situation.

Q: Should I be concerned if my dog is not eating after surgery?

A: It’s common for dogs to have a decreased appetite after surgery due to medication, pain, or stress.

However, if your dog refuses to eat for more than 24 hours or shows other signs of illness, it’s important to contact your veterinarian for further evaluation.

Q: Can I give my dog over-the-counter pain medication after surgery?

A: No, it is not recommended to give your dog over-the-counter pain medication without consulting your veterinarian first.

Dogs have different sensitivities and metabolisms compared to humans, and certain medications can be toxic to them.

Always seek professional advice before administering any medication to your dog.

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