Will My Pet Need Medications After Surgery?

A striped brown cat resting comfortably on blankets after oral surgery.

Will My Pet Need Medications After Surgery?

Depending on the type of procedure a pet has, they often need medications for a few days after surgery. There are several different types of medications a pet might need, and several different formulations available. This allows our veterinarians to prescribe a formulation that will be easiest for each pet owner to administer.


Pain Medication

The most common type of medication prescribed for pets after oral surgery is pain medication. All patients have their procedures under general anesthesia, and the surgical site is always numbed before surgery. Even so, there may be some lingering pain for the next few days, depending on the procedure performed. Pain medications are used to mitigate the post-operative pain and keep patients comfortable.


1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are the go-to class of pain medications for post-operative pain after oral surgery. This class of drugs reduces pain and inflammation. NSAIDs that are commonly used for people include aspirin, ibuprofen (brand name Advil or Motrin) and naproxen (brand name Aleve). Never use a human NSAID in your pet. Your Veterinary Dentist is likely to prescribe an NSAID such as carprofen (brand name Rimadyl), meloxicam (brand name Metacam) or robenicoxib (brand name Onsior) for your dog or cat. These medications are usually given as an injection lasting 24 hours at the end of a surgical procedure and can be given for the next 3-5 days at home in either a tablet or liquid form. These medications should be given with food and are not safe for animals with kidney disease or who take steroids.


2. Neuropathic pain medications

Gabapentin, or less commonly pregabalin, are neuropathic pain medications that are also sometimes used for additional pain control along with NSAIDs or opioids, or in patients that cannot have NSAIDs. These medications are also sometimes used for seizures or for mild sedation.


3. Opioid pain medications

Opioids are a class of controlled drugs used to treat pain. Examples of opioids include morphine, hydromorphone (brand name in human medicine is Dilaudid), fentanyl, buprenorphine and codeine. Most patients undergoing anesthesia will receive one or more of these medications during the anesthetic event. In some cases, opioid pain medication is required post-operatively, especially for very painful procedures such as jaw fractures or surgery to remove tumors. Cats requiring post-operative opioids are often given buprenorphine, which can be given by mouth and is absorbed through the oral mucosa. There is also a long-lasting topical product that can be applied prior to discharge from the hospital. Fentanyl patches are also sometimes used. These are applied to the skin, and they release the medication over a number of days.



Mild sedatives are occasionally prescribed for patients that are highly energetic and unwilling to rest and recuperate after surgery, which makes their recovery more difficult. They can also be used prior to surgery for nervous patients, to make coming to the vet clinic less stressful and safer.



Antibiotics are rarely required after oral surgery. Some instances where antibiotics may be required include some diabetic patients and patients with recent metal implants in their jaw or elsewhere in their body. Patients that have facial swelling due to dental abscesses are also sometimes prescribed antibiotics before surgery, especially if surgery will be delayed for a day or two.


Contact Our Team

If you have any questions about your pet’s medication after their procedure at our clinic, don’t hesitate to give us a call!


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