Data from a survey conducted in 1996–1997 suggested a low level of perioperative analgesic administration to cats and dogs in the UK. In order to evaluate current practice and attitudes with regards to perioperative analgesic prescription, a cross-sectional survey of UK practising small animal veterinary surgeons was undertaken in spring 2013. Four thousand one hundred paper questionnaires were distributed and the survey was made available online. Seven hundred and twenty valid responses were received and analysed. All respondents had access to at least one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and one opioid within their practice. Respondents considered analgesic efficacy, and degree of intraoperative pain, the most important factors governing their selection of NSAID and opioid analgesics. Perioperative NSAIDs were administered by approximately 98 per cent of respondents to dogs and cats undergoing neutering. Multimodal (opioid+NSAID) analgesia was prescribed by the majority of respondents. Neutering was considered more painful in dogs than in cats, and lower rates of opioid and postdischarge NSAID prescription were reported for cats. Orthopaedic, abdominal and dental surgeries were considered equally painful in dogs and cats. Local analgesic techniques were not commonly used. Analgesic prescription has increased since previous surveys, which should translate to improved animal welfare.