My Dog Ate Before Surgery What Should I Do?

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 03/01/22 •  3 min read
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My Dog Ate Before Surgery

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Dogs sometimes require surgical procedures, just like we do. And they need to go through surgery prep time, too. Vets advise not feeding your dog before surgery, but what happens if your dog accidentally eats something before his surgery?

Has your dog eaten something before surgery? Are you worried eating before surgery will make your dog sick? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We understand it can be scary when something like this happens.

We’ve put together some information about why fasting before surgery is essential, and we share what to do if your dog has eaten something before his surgery. Let’s get started!

It is strongly recommended to contact a Pet Poison Helpline or your veterinarian.

Why Do Dogs Have to Fast Before Surgery?

The veterinarian provides pre-op instructions for your dog. These usually include not allowing your fur baby to eat several hours before the scheduled surgery. For example, some vets may say no food or water after 8 pm or midnight. Many pet parents are puzzled by this advice, especially if this is their dog’s first surgery.

The reason for not allowing your dog to eat before surgery is to ensure his stomach is empty. During surgery, the dog receives general anesthesia. Anesthesia is a medication that helps the dog sleep deeply during surgery.

Sometimes anesthesia can make a dog very nauseous and cause him to vomit. Vomiting during surgery is very dangerous. If a dog vomits during surgery, he may inhale, causing vomit to go into his lungs. This process is called “aspiration.” When this happens, there’s a good chance the dog could develop pneumonia, a very dangerous kind of lung infection.

So, this is why the vet says don’t allow your dog to eat before surgery. For instance, the vet may tell you not to let your dog eat or drink 6-8 hours before surgery. This period allows the stomach to process the dog’s meal and neutralizes stomach acid. Then, before the surgery, the vet won’t have to worry as much about aspiration when your dog receives anesthesia. Your dog then has a safer surgery and doesn’t have to fight pneumonia and heal after surgery both at the same time.

My Dog Accidentally Ate Before Surgery—What Should I Do?

Accidents can happen. It might be your fur baby helped himself to trash, someone may have fed him by mistake, and so on. If this has happened, then be sure to call the vet and let them know.

In some cases, the vet may say it’s OK to go ahead with the surgery. However, in other cases, they may want to reschedule the operation.

The key is to make sure your dog is safe for surgery. So, if the vet says to reschedule, this is the safest option for your dog. It may be a little inconvenient, but this ensures your fur baby has a safer surgery and easier recovery time!

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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