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Why won’t my dog lay down after surgery?

Why won’t my dog lay down after surgery?

Surgery is stressful for you and your four legged family member. After the initial procedure, you still have to deal with recovery. You may find that your pooch has a difficult time laying down after surgery. 

It’s natural to be concerned, but you should know this is a relatively common issue. 

Why won’t my dog lay down after surgery?

Your dog may not lay down after surgery for several reasons. They may be in pain, disoriented, or simply stressed. 


Most vets will provide proper pain management after surgery, but your pooch may still experience some discomfort. They may find moving or laying down painful. If this is the case, they will naturally not want to lay down. 

They lack the reasoning that humans have. You may find laying down uncomfortable after surgery, but understand that you need the rest. Your pooch doesn’t have this same thought process. 

Disorientation or Confusion 

Your pooch may be disoriented or confused, particularly in the first 12-24 hours after surgery. This is usually due to anesthesia. If you’ve ever undergone anesthesia, it probably took several hours, or even a few days, before you felt like yourself. 

Your pooch can have the same experience. To make matters worse, they don’t understand why they are disoriented the way humans do. 


Anesthesia can also cause hyperactivity. Anesthesia usually has sedating effects. However, it can have the opposite effect on your dog, particularly as it begins to wear off. 

If your pooch is stimulated due to anesthesia, it makes sense that they don’t want to lay down. Their body may be exhausted, but they don’t feel tired. 

Stress or Anxiety 

Again, your pooch doesn’t think the same way we do. They know that they were brought to the vet and put to sleep. They know that they woke up confused and possibly in pain. 

This is stressful to a human, who understands how and why this occured. Because they don’t fully understand the situation, it can be even more stressful for your pooch. 

A dog who is anxious or stressed may pace, drool, and bark excessively. Their body will look tense, and they will find it difficult to relax. 

What to do if my dog won’t lay down after surgery?

You know it’s very important for your pooch to rest after surgery, but they won’t lay down. How can you help them to get the rest they need to recover? 

Address Pain and Anxiety 

If you think your dog is experiencing pain or anxiety after surgery, it’s important to address the problem. If your vet prescribed pain medication, give it to your dog as prescribed. 

If they still seem to be in pain, give your vet a call. They may need a check up, or a stronger pain medication. 

Anxiety after surgery should also be taken seriously. If it’s severe, you should call your vet. Your pooch may need some anxiety medication during their recovery. 

Keep The Environment Comfortable  

The environment your pooch is in will have a big impact on their recovery. They need a quiet space. Be sure their recovery area doesn’t have a lot of activity. At the same time, your pooch will probably want to remain close to you, so try to place them in an area where you are nearby. 

Their bed is also important, particularly after surgery. Your dog may need a more comfortable or higher support bed. This will depend on the type of surgery, the age of your dog, and their preference. 

Keep their food and water bowls near their area. You may need to use raised bowls, so your pooch doesn’t have to bend down to eat and drink after surgery. 

Why isn’t my dog moving or walking after surgery? (Or getting up)

If your dog isn’t moving or getting up after surgery, it’s natural to be concerned. This is also normal after surgery. However, it is important to know why your dog isn’t getting up, and when you should worry. 


If it’s painful for your pooch to get up or walk, it’s natural for them to avoid it when possible. In addition to not wanting to move or walk, there are some signs that your pooch is in pain. 

These include a loss of appetite, or decreased thirst. They may pant, shake, or tremble. You may notice these things when they move, when they are petted, or all the time. 

They may have an intense desire to lick the incision site. At the same time, they may not groom themselves as they normally do. 

Lastly, you may notice them ensign their body, whining, or crying. This may occur when they are moving, being petted, or even when resting. 


In the 24-72 hours post surgery, particularly within the first 12-24 hours, your dog will probably be sedated due to anesthesia. Depending on the procedure, they may also be given sedative medication to help them relax and rest after surgery. 

This will naturally make them less active. In this case, you should be able to rouse them. However, they may sleep a lot, and not want to move around. 

If it’s due to the anesthesia, they should be more active within a day or two. 

Disorienation or Confusion

As mentioned previously, the experience of surgery can cause your dog to be disoriented or confused. This will cause some dogs to be hyperactive. However, other dogs may have the opposite reaction. 

Your pooch may not want to move because they are confused. They may be dizzy when they walk, which will also lead them to want to lay down. 


What to do if my dog won’t move, walk or get up after surgery?

 If your dog won’t move or walk after surgery, there are a few steps you should take. 

Let Them Rest 

If it’s soon after surgery, just allow your pooch to rest. It’s normal for them to be tired and groggy after surgery. The effects should wear off as the anesthesia leaves their system. 

Keep a Close Eye 

You should watch your pooch closely after surgery. It’s normal for them to be tired. However, it’s not normal for them to be unresponsive. If they won’t wake up or aren’t responding to you, then you should call your vet immediately. You can also take them to the vets’ office. 

Managing Pain

If you suspect pain is the reason for your dog’s reluctance to get up, you may need to give them pain medication. If your vet prescribed medication, give it to your pooch as prescribed. 

If they still seem to be in pain, or you are concerned the pain is abnormal, don’t hesitate to call your vet. They may need their medication adjusted, or a check-up to look for any complications. 

Get Them Moving 

Lastly, you can entice your dog to get moving. Be careful when doing this. You don’t want to encourage any activity that is off limits during recovery, so high energy games aren’t a good idea.

However, you can entice them to come to you with a treat, or a toy that they can enjoy gently. If it’s allowed during recovery, and your pooch is up for it, consider a short walk. This can get your pooch feeling better by stimulating their mind and giving them gentle exercise.