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Dog with Diarrhea After Surgery: Tips From Our Vet Surgeon

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This article was updated on February 2nd, 2024

Post-surgery diarrhea is a frequent concern among pet owners after their animal undergoes a procedure. If your pet recently faced this issue, it’s important to know it doesn’t automatically indicate a problem with the surgery. As a veterinary surgeon, I’ve encountered and treated this issue often and will outline when it’s normal, with 6 tips to reduce or prevent it.

Diarrhea is often caused by anesthesia drugs which can slow down gut movements.

After any type of surgery, it is common for pets to experience a decrease in appetite and digestive issues such as diarrhea following the procedure. This is due to a few different factors but anesthetic drugs are largely to blame – anesthesia slows down the normal movements of the gut that help food to move along your dog’s intestine, this means that food isn’t properly digested resulting in diarrhea.

Anesthesia also decreases the natural bacterial balance in the gut which can lead to decreased absorption of nutrients and water, resulting in diarrhea.

Additionally, changes to your pet’s diet or medications may disrupt their normal gastrointestinal activity; a lot of prescribed pain medication will affect the GI tract.

Furthermore, pets may be especially stressed while recovering from surgery – stress hormones can cause temporary gastric distress leading to episodes of diarrhea.

Mild and short bouts of diarrhea are generally nothing to worry about.

However, if your pet’s diarrhea persists for more than 2-3 days, it is very important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible so that they can assess the situation.

6 tips and remedies to help

Thankfully, there are some steps you can take at home to help reduce your pet’s uncomfortable post-operative diarrhea and ease their recovery process:

1. Offer small portions of food throughout the day.

Instead of one large meal. This will help ensure that all food is properly digested by their gastrointestinal system.

2. Give your dog’s pain medication on time.

If prescribed pain medication after surgery, make sure they are taking this on time – this will help reduce inflammation in their body that could be contributing to their diarrhea.

3. Incorporate probiotics in your dog’s diet.

Incorporate probiotics into their diet to help balance the good bacteria in their gut, which will improve digestion and reduce inflammation. These products or supplements contain healthy bacteria that are essential for recovery. One example is “Purina FortiFlora Probiotics for Dogs”:

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements...
  • Number one probiotic supplement recommended by veterinarians (Kantar Veterinary Tracker, 2020)

4. Keep your dog hydrated.

Offer fluids like bone broth or electrolytes to help keep them hydrated and nourished.

5. Avoid drastic changes.

Avoid drastic changes in food, treats, or environment while they’re still adjusting to their post-operative lifestyle

6. Give your dog a relaxing space to rest.

Most importantly, create a comfortable and relaxing space for your pup – this will reduce their stress levels and ultimately help them heal faster.

Learn more with our home remedies to help a dog recover from diarrhea FAST! Although at-home remedies are useful in helping your pet with their diarrhea following surgery, always trust your vet’s professional advice when it comes to your pup’s health.

When should my dog get better – and stop having diarrhea?

It can be disheartening to watch your dog suffer through a bout of diarrhea, especially after having undergone a stressful event like surgery. Generally speaking, you can expect that diarrhea after surgery won’t last more than a couple of days as long as the cause is something simple, like normal post-anesthesia stress or a change in diet.

However, you should contact your veterinarian if the symptoms:

  • persist beyond a few days,
  • are accompanied by changes in stool color and consistency,
  • suddenly become worse, and/or
  • are accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as vomiting, fever, loss of appetite or lethargy.

In the end, it’s always best to get professional help if you’re worried about your furry companion’s health.

Other important tips for surgery aftercare:

– Follow your vet’s instructions for post-operative care, including any dietary changes and/or medications.

– Make sure your pup is getting lots of rest and a comfortable place to sleep.

– Keep the area around their incision/wound clean and dry – if needed, use a warm damp cloth to wipe away any discharge or debris.

– Make sure your pup is not licking or chewing at the area, as this could lead to infection.

– Monitor your pup for signs of pain or discomfort and contact your vet if necessary.

– Provide plenty of exercise and activity, as long it does not cause them undue stress or pain.

– And most importantly, be patient and provide lots of love and support throughout the recovery process!


When it comes to dog diarrhea after surgery, it’s natural to be concerned. But knowing some of the common causes of diarrhea and how to respond can help you determine the best ways to make sure your pet is getting better as quickly and safely as possible.

Understanding what could trigger postoperative diarrhea, watching for signs and symptoms like frequent bowel movements with loose stool or excessive flatulence, being conscious about food changes, and being aware of when you should reach out for vet advice can all go a long way in keeping your pup healthy after their surgery.

Common issues after surgery:


  • Dr Alex Crow, Veterinary Surgeon

    Alex Crow, VetMed MRCVS, is an RCVS accredited Veterinary surgeon with special interests in neurology and soft tissue surgery. Dr Crow is currently practicing at Buttercross Veterinary Center in England. He earned his degree in veterinary medicine in 2019 from the Royal Veterinary College (one of the top 3 vet schools in the world) and has more than three years of experience practicing as a small animal veterinarian (dogs and cats).

Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.

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