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 February 2nd, 2024

A common issue after a dog’s surgery is excessive crying or whining. As an experienced surgeon, I have treated countless dogs after their surgeries and have seen many owners concerned about this behavior. In this article, I’ll discuss the most common causes and share 7 easy tips to help.

After surgery, a dog may whine due to pain, feeling cold, or anxiety.

One common behavior observed in dogs recovering from general anesthesia is whining, even when pain medication has been correctly administered. While it may seem like your surgeon has done something wrong, this is generally not the case.

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?

After any sort of surgery, it is not unusual for pets to display some discomfort or anxiety. A dog might exhibit signs of anxiety such as whining, restlessness, or pacing. 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 couple of days.

This whining should be temporary and usually diminishes as your pet recovers. However, if the behavior continues beyond a couple of days or gets worse over time, you may want to contact your veterinarian for further examination. Dr. Whittenburg recommends the following:

“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.”

Dr. Jamie Whittenburg

Veterinarian Director at SeniorTailWaggers.com

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.

7 easy tips to help your dog

With the right approach, owners can easily support their dogs through this difficult time and significantly reduce vocalizing and whining:

1. Of course, it’s essential to follow any post-operative instructions your vet has provided and to keep up with any prescribed pain medication. Make sure that you have given your dog the right dose of pain medication. Call your vet in case you have any doubt.

2. Giving your dog plenty of rest and restrict their activity for a period of time.

3. Provide comfortable bedding and familiar surroundings. Stick to your usual schedule and keep their favorite toys close by.

4. Ensure that there are no disturbances in the area during recovery.

5. If your dog’s body temperature is too low, it’s important to keep them warm. You can tell if your dog’s temperature is too low if they are shivering, have cold ears or a temperature below 99.5°F when measured with a thermometer.

6. Ensure that there is a sufficient amount of water and food available to help the dog with their healing process.

7. 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.

“Sometimes, the best medicine for those post-operation blues is simple love and care! The most effective remedy may simply be to give your dog some extra attention with lots of snuggles and patience.”

Dr. Alex Crow

Veterinarian at SeniorTailWaggers.com

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 tips or home remedies mentioned above, it may be a sign that something more serious is going on and needs to be addressed.

Contact your vet if your dog’s whining continues beyond a few days or seems to be getting worse

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. You should also contact your vet if you notice any other abnormal symptoms, such as:

  • lethargy,
  • vomiting, diarrhea, or
  • loss of appetite

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.
  • Keep an eye on any incisions and stitches and watching for signs of infection: view pictures of normal incisions or pictures of incision infections.
  • Providing your pup with plenty of water.
  • Keep other pets and children away from your post-operative pet so they can rest and recover in peace.

Conclusion

As we have learned, a dog whining after surgery is common and relatively normal. Make sure that your puppy doesn’t appear distressed or in pain beyond what would be expected during the recovery process. If this is the case, don’t wait – immediately contact your veterinarian.

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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Author

  • 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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