This is a great question! Some dogs make it really hard to know and that’s part of the answer that question. Some veterinarians send home pain medication as a matter of course. But many patients really don’t need it, and the pain medication can have side effects. The side effects can range from vomiting to bleeding ulcers and kidney disease.
Usually, the first day they go home, dogs are a little bit sleepy after their surgery. They are sleepy because they still have remnants of the pre-anesthetic in their body and that medication can provide pain relief. What is great is that once the dog gets up and moves, that movement provides some pain relief and many dogs don’t even need pain medication. However, older dogs usually do need pain medication as the surgery is more invasive on them. This is because the parts are bigger and better attached. And what is interesting, is little dogs that fit really well under your arm or in your pocketbook get their best pain relief by being held.
So, if your dog won’t get up and walk around, won’t eat, or use the bathroom as normal the day after his surgery there’s a good chance he has some pain and might need some pain medication. Otherwise, the gentle belly rub and a walk will do just as well.