Pre- and Post-Operative Care


Terrier mix named Mia wearing a cone

Learning that your pet needs surgery can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unsure of what the procedure entails. At Anicira, we work with pet parents to ensure that you are well informed before your pet’s surgery. Our veterinary team provides compassionate care before, during, and after surgery to ensure that your pet is safe and comfortable.

What is a cystotomy and why does my pet need it?

Cystotomy is surgery performed to enter the bladder. Most commonly, pets undergo a cystotomy to remove bladder stones. However, a cystotomy may also be performed due to a tumor in the bladder or to assist in removing a blockage in the urethra.

What are bladder stones in pets?

Bladder stones occur when minerals combine in the bladder to form one or more solid, hard stones. These stones can range from the size of a grain of sand to the size of a small orange.

Why is a cystotomy performed?

A cystotomy is usually recommended when a pet has bladder stones that cannot be removed by other means. Before surgery, your veterinarian may attempt to dissolve the stones with a prescription diet and/or a course of antibiotics. If this is unsuccessful, surgery will be recommended. Stones in the bladder cause inflammation leading to discomfort for your pet. If the stones pass into the urethra they may become stuck and cause an obstruction. A urethral obstruction will make your pet very ill and if not resolved quickly will result in death.

Pre-Surgical Instructions for cystotomy surgery

Admission Time – Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.

Food – You may feed your pet a quarter of their normal breakfast no later than 6 am.

Water – Your pet may have water up until the time of the surgery.

Pre-surgical exam – Your pet must be in good health and show no signs of sickness such as coughing, sneezing, runny eyes, or diarrhea.

Medical records – Please bring proof of rabies vaccination if this has not already been provided. If your cat or dog has not been previously vaccinated or lacks proof of vaccination, we will administer a rabies vaccine on the day of surgery.

If you have not already sent your medical records, please bring all relevant medical records.

What happens during a cystotomy surgery?

Cystotomy is surgery of the bladder to remove bladder stones, clots, tumors, or other obstructions.

Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure that your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. It is strongly recommended that your pet receives pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.

The surgical team will prepare the surgical site by shaving then cleaning the area to remove bacteria and decrease the likelihood of post-surgical infection.

The veterinarian will then perform the cystotomy by making an incision through your pet’s abdominal wall and into the bladder. The bladder and urethra are thoroughly evaluated for abnormalities then and then the incision is sutured.

Caring for Your Pet After Cystotomy

Anesthesia takes 24 to 48 hours to wear off.

  • Your pet may be groggy during this time period.
  • Keep your pet confined in a secure, quiet, and comfortable space. We recommend a crate or a small room.
  • Isolate them from other pets and children while recovering.

Make sure your pet wears their Elizabethan Collar (E Collar / Cone)

  • Your pet’s surgical site will take 10 to 14 days to heal. During this period, they should wear an e collar at all times.
  • Allowing your pet to lick their incision can lead to infection or dehiscence (opening of the incision).

Offer food & water after surgery

  • When your pet returns home, offer them food and water.
  • Anesthesia may cause nausea so your pet may not be interested in food.
  • If vomiting occurs, wait 12 hours before offering more food.
  • Resume normal feeding the day after surgery. Your pet’s appetite should be back to normal within 24 hours.
  • If your pet refuses to eat, you may try offering a bland diet such as white rice and boiled chicken breast while they regain a normal appetite.
  • Please do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk.

Give all medications as directed

  • Your pet will be sent home with oral pain medication. Please follow the instructions on the label.
  • If possible, please give the pain medication with food. If your pet has no appetite please ensure that they still take the pain medication.
  • OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol and Advil are toxic to pets. Please do not give these to your pet.

Check surgical incision daily for the first week

  • Your pet’s surgical site will be healing for 10-14 days.
  • What you see on the day of surgery is what we consider normal
  • There may be moderate bruising.

Limit your pet’s activity and keep them clean, dry, and warm for 10 days after surgery.

  • Keep your pet away from all potential hazards (including stairs)
  • Pets should be kept indoors so they can stay clean, dry, and warm.
  • No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity.
  • Do not bathe your pet or have it groomed during the recovery period.

Inflammation within the bladder will make your pet feel like they need to urinate frequently

  • This will subside within the next week or so and should improve every day
  • Expect blood in your pet’s urine for 48 to 72 hours after surgery
  • This is normal as the bladder wall heals.
  • If this does not resolve within 72 hours, please contact Anicira.

Your veterinarian may recommend feeding a prescription urinary diet. Please follow dietary recommendations from your veterinarian.

How effective is a cystotomy?

Cystotomy is a common, safe, and highly effective procedure. Most pets go on to live a long, healthy life. However, bladder stones may recur. If stones are removed during your pet’s surgery Anicira will submit these to an outside lab to determine their composition. This information will help determine what caused the stones to form so that we can hopefully prevent them from forming again.

Rare, but serious surgical complications of cystotomy surgery

Complications from cystotomy are rare. If your pet experiences these issues after surgery, please contact Anicira.

  • Incontinence that does not resolve within a week
  • Straining or discomfort when urinating
  • Urine Leakage
  • Recurrent bladder stones
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site

Please contact Anicira, your primary care veterinarian, or an emergency clinic if any of the following occur:

  • No urine passed for more than 24 hours
  • Pale gums
  • Severe pain, depression or weakness
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
  • Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours
  • Abdominal pain and swelling