Post-Surgery Reflections: Why Does My Pet Vomit?
Thu, April 22, 2021

Post-Surgery Reflections: Why Does My Pet Vomit?



Recovering from anesthesia may take time depending on the type of procedure your pet underwent, said Adelaide Vet, a veterinary clinic in Adelaide, South Australia. You can help your pet recover at home by making them warm and comfortable and ensuring access to food and water. Administering its medications as directed also aids in the recovery process.

The anesthetic might have been administered via intravenous injection in the front leg and by gas through a special tube going to the mouth and into the lungs. Occasionally, the tube causes some irritation, inducing a mild cough post-surgery but clears up within a day.


Peri-Operative Nausea and Vomiting and Willingness to Pay for Anti-Emetic Treatment (2019)

Bonnie L. Hay Kraus and Callie Cazlan of Frontiers In Veterinary Science, a global, peer-reviewed open access journal, said 52 surveys were answered by clients who owned dogs that had a “non-emergent appointment that did not require general anesthesia.” According to the researchers, only 6.7% (1= not at all worried) of dog owners were not at all worried in relation to opioid analgesics and anesthesia. 10.6% said they were very worried (5= very worried).

Regarding vomiting, 16.5% were very worried whereas 8.7% of dog owners were not at all worried. 39.4% would definitely and 56.7% would probably prefer treatment to lower or prevent signs of nausea, totaling to 96.1%. A smaller proportion of respondents answered “Probably Not” (3.8%) whereas none of them said “Definitely Not” (0%). Meanwhile, owners would definitely (51.4%) and probably (47.6%) choose treatment to prevent vomiting, compared to 1% of respondents who said “Probably Not.” None of the answers chose “Definitely Not.”

50% of owners definitely accept treatment to prevent vomiting and nausea if their veterinarian recommended treatment that cost $30 while 45.2% would likely accept treatment. None of the respondents said “Definitely not choose treatment” and “definitely ask for other options.” If the respondents were required to bring their into the clinic 60 minutes earlier to receive the treatment, 40.4% and 51% would very likely or likely choose this option, respectively. However, 3.8% and 4.8% of owners said they were very unlikely or unlikely to prefer this option, respectively.

The survey suggested that most dog owners showed concern with their pet experiencing nausea and vomiting associated with anesthesia. The authors revealed that the respondents were willing to pay for treatment, especially if it is recommended by the veterinarian. Veterinary professionals who manage the side effects of anesthesia may improve their client’s satisfaction with the anesthetic care of their dogs.




Post-Surgery: How Should I Take Care of My Pet?

Post-operative home care involves restricting physical activity such as climbing stairs, jumping or running, playing with other animals in the house, engaging in “rough-housing,” reminded Michigan Ave. Animal Hospital, a pet-focused and client-centered animal hospital. Your dog may not understand that it needs to recuperate, as most dogs will naturally become active in a short period of time after the procedure. Hence, it is important to closely supervise your dog indoors. Further, excessive physical activity may potentially lead to injury or serious complications, which entails additional expenses and discomfort and risk for your canine.  

But when nature calls, your dog must be on a short leash and returned to your house immediately. Short, slow leash walks can be done for two weeks or as directed by your veterinarian. If your pet needs to be left alone, it has to be housed in a cage or other small area. The area must be warm and safe. For cats, their physical activity must also be restricted and remain indoors during the recovery process, as any strenuous activity may put a strain on the wound, said Ernest Ward, DVM, of VCA, an operator of over 1,000 animal hospitals in the US and Canada.

Provide your pet with water and offer a small amount of food on the first night. Anesthesia can cause your pet to lose its appetite, so don’t be concerned when it refuses to eat. However, you might need to call the hospital if it does not consume food within 25 hours. In some occasions, pets may vomit after consuming food on the first night.



Why Does My Pet Vomit/ Regurgitate After Surgery?

1.      Acid Reflux and Esophagitis

The most common cause is acid reflux from the stomach into the esophagus while your dog or cat is under anesthesia or in the peri-operative time period. Esophagitis occurs when the stomach’s acidic fluid causes a chemical irritation in the esophagus, causing it to decrease motility and accumulate food and water. Cases that involve appropriate treatment have successfully resolved mild esophagitis within several days.

In severe cases of esophagitis, your pet’s esophagus can develop strictures, which narrows the esophagus caused by the formation of scar tissue and prevents the passage of food down the esophagus. This may lead to persistent regurgitation in your pet, lasting for several weeks post-operative and is often correlated (but not all the time) with post-operative vomiting or regurgitation.

Prompt action is needed to ensure the successful treatment of esophagitis. However, it may involve medical therapy and an endoscopic procedure, in which your pet’s esophagus is dilated at the stricture site using a small balloon catheter.

2.      Medications

Medications like antibiotics or pain medications are also one of the causes of vomiting in pets. To see which one is causing your pet to vomit, administer each drug two hours apart. Within an hour, your pet may vomit or appear nauseated to the medication it is sensitive to. Stomach upset from the anesthesia is one of the potential causes of vomiting. Don’t worry, this will pass after a couple of days.



3.      Leakage of Intestinal Contents or Peritonitis

If your pet underwent an intestine or stomach surgery, vomiting will always be a serious concern it may suggest leakage of intestinal contents and an infection of the abdominal cavity or peritonitis. Mild vomiting can be treated by withholding food and water for 12 to 24 hours.

Then, gradually introduce small amounts of water, and followed it with bland food like rice or lean cooked hamburger.  It is recommended to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you think your pet exhibits signs of post-operative vomiting, particularly before administering medication.


Your pet may feel nausea or vomit after surgery, which may be caused by anesthesia or some medications. For surgeries that involve the intestines and the stomach, vomiting will always be a concern as it indicates leakage or peritonitis. Cases like these involve the help of a veterinarian.