28th July 2023

Helping Your Dog Recover After Surgery: A Simple Guide With Easy Tips for Recovery, Nutrition and Supplements

Dr. Devan Patel, PharmD
Helping Your Dog Recover After Surgery: A Simple Guide With Easy Tips for Recovery, Nutrition and Supplements

Surgery can be scary and overwhelming for pets and owners alike. Usually, the recovery process is simple, with the first few days and weeks requiring special care for your pup. Knowing how to care for your pet properly after surgery can expedite your dog’s return to normalcy as quickly as possible! For your fluffy friend to recover quickly after surgery, here are some simple tips. 



Always follow your veterinarian’s instructions on how to take care of your dog’s surgical wounds. 


Your veterinarian will provide specific instructions on how to properly take care of your dog’s post-surgery incisions, which will help reduce the risk of infection and insure healing. Instructions may vary from one dog to another and depending on the type of surgery, so make sure you follow instructions exactly.  


Here are some general instructions for all types of surgical wounds: 

  • Always keep the incision site dry. This means no bathing or swimming until your dog's wound has healed or until your veterinarian has given you the ok. If you’re unable to avoid rain, cover your dog’s incision site properly.  
  • Never use any topical ointments or creams, unless instructed by your veterinarian.  
  • Do not use hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaning products on your dog's skin. This can be painful for them and can cause the wound to take longer to heal. 

Monitor for changes of the incision site  


It’s important to check your dog’s incision regularly post-surgery to monitor for signs of infection. If you notice any swelling, pus, warmth or discharge, this could mean an infection has arisen. Contact your veterinarian if there are any issues or concerns. 


Restrict physical activity 


It’s important to make sure that your dog isn't too active following surgery. The last thing you want is for your dog to cause stretching of the incision which can lead to stitches breaking apart or the incision bleeding. Limiting your dog’s activity includes no jumping or climbing, keeping walks short, providing assistance if your dog needs to climb stairs or get in a car. No free off leash activity can be allowed!  


Prevent your dog from licking or biting their surgical wound 


As your dog’s wound starts to heal it may start itching which can make them want to lick or chew that area. If they lick or bite their surgical incision, it can lead to infection or reopening of the wound, delaying the healing process. To prevent that, keep a cone or e-collar on. This may be needed for a couple weeks after surgery. 



Research on nutrition has expanded the knowledge of canine nutrition. It is now known that a well-balanced diet must also include a proper amount of minerals, vitamins, essential amino acids, (from proteins), and specific essential fatty acids (from fats). The nutrients are needed to build and maintain tissue and carry out biological reactions. However, the required amounts vary somewhat with the dog's stage of life as well as conditions. 


Since nutrients are the building blocks that a body needs to function, they are crucial to help your dog recover from surgery. Your dog’s diet can impact how quickly their incisions heal and it can lower their risk of infection.  


Wounds affect how the body metabolizes nutrients, so a major surgery or operation may throw off your dogs’ metabolism out of balance. During the healing phase, a dog’s body enters a catabolic phase to help create new tissue after a wound. During this phase, extra carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins and minerals are needed to rebuild cells. There is a misconception that dogs can’t digest carbohydrates. Dogs have evolved to use proteins and fats as their primary energy sources, but they also require carbohydrates for energy. Since a dog's digestive system produces enzymes that are specific for digesting starches and sugars, it shows that they are capable of digesting carbohydrates. It is important to note that complex carbohydrates such as grains are more digestible when they are cooked. Feeding your dog after surgery might look different than their normal day. Typically, your dog isn’t going to feel much like eating so start them with small light meals. Your veterinarian may recommend a certain type of diet during recovery. 


An ideal recovery diet may look like this: 

  • High in protein to support lean body mass 
  • High in carbohydrates to increase energy. Your dog may have very little appetite and significantly increased metabolic rate so foods should be rich in energy where even small amounts can provide the energy they need. 
  • Highly digestible ingredients since they may not absorb nutrients as well during this time. 
  • Tasty and attractive to your dog so that it encourages them to eat.   

A dog’s immunity can be affected after surgery. There are a multitude of vitamins and minerals, which will be discussed later, that can help with your dog’s immunity to reduce and fight off infections while recovering. Your veterinarian may recommend supplementation during this period as well.  




Vitamin A 

Vitamin A is a natural mineral that promotes cell growth, decreases the risk of scars, and decreases the appearance of scars. This will allow your pet to heal naturally and decrease the risk of scar formation. 



Taking Glucosamine HCl after surgery can help promote hyaluronic acid production, which in turn promotes a swifter healing process, allowing for possible diminished scar formation. Glucosamine is also used by the body to make many other important chemicals that build tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and other fluids that surround the joints in your pet. These important chemicals cushion the joints by increasing fluid and decreasing the degradation of cartilage around the joints. Using Glucosamine HCl will aid in any inflammation your pet may face. 


Omega-3 (EPA and DHA)  

Eicosatetraenoic Acid (EPA) helps to reduce inflammation, and in turn promotes pain relief. Studies have shown that EPA has aided in promoting anti-inflammation in dogs that experience arthritis. EPA in your pet's diet aims to promote the decrease in inflammation your pet may experience after surgery. 


Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is a very important chemical in the body. It is essential for brain development and its function, as well as the speed and the quality of communication that occurs between the nerve cells. DHA also helps the skin by promoting soft, hydrated skin. DHA in your pet's diet after surgery aims to help your pet's skin heal quickly and healthily, while also promoting the cells and nerves to heal and bounce back to their natural healthy functions. 



Collagen helps repair tissues and rebuild the structure of cartilage. Including collagen in your pet's diet will promote the wound healing process by helping in tissue repair and promote new blood vessels to form. 


Green Lipped Mussels 

Green Lipped Mussels are mostly known for their ability to promote reduced pain sensations, increase movement, and improve quality of life for those who suffer from inflammation. 


Hemp Seed 

Hemp seed can help aid in pain symptoms for those dealing with inflammation, as well as promoting bone metabolism. This is important in your pet's diet after surgery as decreasing any pain and inflammation will help get your pet get its energy back and keep moving. 



Turmeric is one of the most well-known minerals that is both anti-inflammatory and is an antioxidant. It is an important post-op supplement to decrease pain your pet may face. Turmeric root powder also will help your pet's digestive system, aiding our pet when they use the bathroom while they are healing. 



MSM aids in minimizing bruising, swelling, pain, and any scar tissue your pet may have after surgery. MSM can promote wound healing by decreasing pain and breaking down calcium deposits. 


Vitamin C 

Ascorbic acid, more commonly known as Vitamin C, helps promote faster healing, promotes pain relief and reduces the need for other pain medications. This natural vitamin helps in the formation of collagen, which is the most important component of connective tissue. 


Vitamin E 

Vitamin E promotes faster wound healing and helps decrease the formation of scars. Including vitamin E in your pet's diet can help promote your pet's skin to heal and decrease any scar formation from stitches or any other cosmetic trauma your pet may face after surgery. 


Grape Seed Extract 

Grape seed extract not only is a natural flavor additive for your pet but promotes wound healing and is anti-inflammatory. 


Selenium Yeast 

Selenium Yeast is a natural antioxidant that will help promote wound healing. In your pet's diet after surgery, it can help decrease inflammation that may occur. Pet food has a very low content of selenium, and in dogs- selenium is important for cell reproduction and synthesis of DNA. While raw food has a higher content available, it is still difficult to ensure your pet gets the correct amount that will help promote healing after surgery. 


Boswellia serrata 

Boswellia serrata is a traditional plant-based supplement that promotes anti-inflammation and can also help with inflammation from osteoarthritis. Having your pet not able to move because of pain can decrease the healing process and make it more difficult for your pet to get better. Adding Boswellia serrata to your pet's diet will help get your pet moving after surgery and aid the healing process. 



Bromelain is a natural supplement that can help promote anti-inflammation and help the respiratory, digestive, and circulatory system. Adding Bromelain to your pet's diet can help joint pain and stiffness after surgery. 



L-arginine can help promote wound healing, collagen, and wound strength after surgery. L-arginine increases the blood flow and oxygen delivery to wounds, and by adding it to your pets diet, can help your dog recover. 


Hyaluronic acid 

Hyaluronic acid can help with cell growth, collagen deposition, and hydration of the skin. Adding hyaluronic acid to your pet's diet will aid in your pet's skin healing and inflammation after surgery. 



Zinc is a natural supplement that promotes the speed of wound healing after surgical incisions and aids the immune system. After surgery, adding zinc to your pet's diet will help your pets heal, reduce scar formation, and aid your pet's immune system. 



Astaxanthin will help your pet with any pain they may face after surgery by promoting anti-inflammation and decreasing oxygen that may increase inflammation in your pet’s joints. 



Probiotics after surgery can aid in promoting wound healing, aiding the immune system, and help reduce the risk of infections. Certain good bacteria can fight different infections. Adding probiotics can help aid your pet's digestive system by promoting a healthy gut. 


Calendula Officinalis 

Traditionally used to aid with burns, wounds, and inflammation. The leaves and flowers are said to be antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antiepileptic and antimicrobial, all properties that are important for your pet's healing journey.



WoundVite for Dogs® is an all-in-one supplement for dogs to aid in recovery post-surgery.*  


WoundVite for Dogs® contains 25 natural vitamins, minerals, and herbs such as vitamin A, C, E, omega 3, glucosamine and collagen, 5 different probiotics and so much more!   


These natural ingredients have been clinically designed to support the key biological needs of adult dogs, focusing on helping your pup recharge and recover after surgery. Not only does it assist in wound recovery, but this all-in-one can provide immune and cellular support, support bone, joint and muscles, and target and support every vital organ, ensuring that your furry best friend is taken care of.  


WoundVite for Dogs®, by ZenNutrients, is made in an FDA registered lab and follows GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices). 



*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.