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Dog Whining or Crying After Surgery [Vet Surgeon Advice]

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young dog whining in the arms of a veterinarian

This article was updated on September 5th, 2023

A common problem many dog owners face after their pet’s operation is whining or crying. With years of experience treating dogs post-surgery and general anesthesia, I’ve seen countless owners with this same concern.

It can seem alarming and disruptive, as if something may be wrong with your dog – that’s why it’s important to understand what might be causing this behavior and what steps you can take to help ease the recovery process. In this article, we’ll discuss common causes of a dog whining after surgery and when you should start worrying about it. I’ll also provide practical advice on how best to manage your dog’s whining to bring some comfort back into both your and your pooch’s life!

Why Is My Dog Whining or Crying After Surgery?

Dogs can act strangely after surgery, and one common behavior observed in dogs recovering from general anesthesia is whining even despite being on pain relief. While it may seem like your veterinarian has done something wrong, this is generally not the case, as dogs whine for many reasons. A dog crying is often an indication that they are in pain or feeling cold, both of which can occur after a surgical operation as a result of the anesthetic drugs. Anxiety following surgery can also make a dog whine as they are trying to communicate their distress.

Should I be concerned that my dog is whining after surgery? Is it normal?

After any sort of surgery, it is not unusual for pets to display some discomfort or anxiety. Whining is a common side effect due to the shock of the procedure and the healing process that follows.

Most dogs recover without any major issues and typically stop whining within a few days; this behavior should be temporary and usually diminishes as your pet recovers. However, if the whining continues beyond a couple of days or gets worse over time, you may want to contact your veterinarian for further examination.

Veterinarian Tip: If your dog is screaming out, is distressed, or seems to be in pain, contact your veterinarian or take them to the nearest emergency hospital.

Home remedies to help your dog

Providing your dog with home remedies to help them through its post-surgery recovery can be very beneficial. Of course, it’s essential to follow any post-operative instructions your vet has provided and to keep up with any prescribed pain medication, but in addition to this, there’s plenty that owners can do at home to help.

Some of the best methods include giving them plenty of rest and restricting their activity for a period of time, as well as providing comfortable bedding and familiar surroundings and ensuring that there are no disturbances in the area during recovery. If your dog’s body temperature is too low, it’s important to keep them warm, and owners should ensure that there is a sufficient amount of water and food available to help the dog with their healing process. Finally, taking the time to offer positive reinforcement with treats or verbal praise can make an immense difference in how your pet copes with pain after surgery. With the right approach, owners can easily support their dogs through this difficult time and significantly reduce vocalizing.

When should my dog stop whining after surgery?

It is common for your pup to whine after surgery; however, there comes a point where the excessive whining may be more than just your pup trying to communicate their discomfort. If you notice that your pup’s whining isn’t diminishing or appears to be worsening days after the surgery, it’s important to check in with your vet. If your pup is not responding to any of the home remedies mentioned above, it may be a sign that something more serious is going on and needs to be addressed.

When should I contact my vet? Does my dog need more pain medication?

If your dog’s whining continues beyond a few days or seems to be getting worse, it’s important to get in touch with your vet clinic. Any change in vocalization (including crying or moaning) can be an indication of worsening pain levels. Your vet may be able to address this further through recommendations for different types of treatments or additional pain medication. If you notice any other abnormal symptoms, such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite, you should contact your vet. Being attentive to these signs from your pup is key to their health and well-being, so if you have questions or worries about their recovery process, don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian right away. In addition, if it has been several weeks and recovery care like medication changes don’t result in any decrease in whining, it may be caused by anxiety or discomfort stemming from the surgery that requires additional treatment beyond medications.

Other important tips for surgery aftercare:

When it comes to surgery aftercare, there is more than just worrying about possible whining post-operation. A key part of taking care of your pet following surgery is creating a calm, comfortable atmosphere at home. Pet owners should minimize the amount of activity that their pup experiences to reduce the risk of further injury or irritation. Making sure to keep their diet consistent both before and after the surgery can help maintain energy levels and promote healing. Additionally, keeping an eye on any incisions and stitches, providing your pup with plenty of water, and watching for signs of infection are all important elements of being a responsible owner before and after your pet’s surgery.

Veterinarian Tip: Keep other pets and children away from your post-operative pet so they can rest and recover in peace.


As we have learned, a dog whining after surgery is common and relatively normal. It’s important to note, however, that not all whining is the same – be sure that your pup doesn’t seem distressed or in pain above and beyond what would be expected for recovery. If this is the case, don’t wait – contact your vet right away. In other cases, though, the most effective remedy may simply be to give your dog some extra TLC with lots of snuggles and patience. With these tips in mind and some quiet healing time at home, you can rest assured that your dog will fully recover from surgery without any long-term issues. Take your time and remember: sometimes, the best medicine for those post-op blues is simple love and care!

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  • 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).

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