What Should I Expect After My Dog is Spayed or Neutered?

Help your dog recover after being spayed or neutered! (Benjamin Earwicker Photo)
Help your dog recover after being spayed or neutered! (Benjamin Earwicker Photo)

For many dog owners, the first surgery that a pet will undergo is a spay or neuter operation. But the prospect of caring for a dog that’s just undergone surgery makes many dog owners very nervous.

Many pet owners simply don’t know what to expect when they get their dog home from the veterinarian. Read on to find out what to expect and how to help a dog after they’ve been spayed or neutered.

Expect the Dog to Be Drowsy With Poor Balance After Surgery and Anesthesia

In order to be spayed or neutered, a dog must go under general anesthesia, which means they’re unconscious during the operation. Most dogs will feel effects from the anesthesia until the following morning.

So when you pick up your dog from the veterinarian after a spay or neuter surgery, expect the following:

The dog will be drowsy and he/she will likely sleep much more than normal for the 18-24 hours following surgery.

Help the Dog In and Out of the Car

The dog may have poor balance. This will make climbing stairs or getting in and out of the care more difficult than usual, so be ready to assist.

Do not allow the dog to jump in an out of the car. Sudden movements can damage the dog’s stitches and cause serious pain. Lift the dog in and out of the car by wrapping your arms around the dog’s chest/front legs and rear/back legs – similar to the way you’d lift a sheep or goat. If possible, pick the dog up in a sedan or other low-to-the-ground car rather than an SUV, truck or minivan.

The Dog Will Have Little or No Appetite After Surgery

The dog will have a poor appetite. Anesthesia tends to make dogs experience nausea, so the dog may not want to eat when he gets home after surgery. Since the dog has not eaten since the previous day, this also means that stomach acids will have accumulated in the dog’s stomach. This can upset the lining of the stomach, also causing some nausea.

Offer bland homemade dog food. To encourage the dog to eat, while preventing an upset stomach, offer some plain white rice with plain, skinless chicken or boiled hamburger meat (with the fat strained away). This will be easy on the dog’s stomach. Do not offer a full size meal. Offer a smaller than usual meal – about 1/2 to 2/3 of the dog’s normal meal size. This will help to prevent upset stomach.

Dogs Will Pee More Often After Surgery; Leg Lifting Can Be Difficult

The dog will need to urinate more frequently after surgery. The veterinary surgeon will usually give the dog IV fluids to a dog who is undergoing spay or neuter surgery; this is a common supportive measure for a dog that’s undergoing an operation. What goes in must come out, so the dog may need to urinate more than usual after surgery.

And remember, a dog who is drowsy and recovering from surgery may not signal the need to go to the bathroom (i.e. standing by the door), so anticipate the dog’s bathroom needs to prevent an accident in the house.

Male dogs may have a difficult time lifting their leg to pee. Due to the location of the incision when a male dog is neutered, lifting a leg can be painful. The dog’s poor balance may also prevent the dog from lifting his leg; instead, most male dogs will squat to pee.

Isolate Your Dog from Other Pets After Surgery

Keep other pets away from your dog after surgery. When your dog returned from getting spayed or neutered, he will be uncomfortable as a result of the incision and due to the after-effects of anesthesia. This means your dog will be more prone to snapping or nipping at other pets and even children. So to avoid problems, keep your dog isolated from other pets and children when he returns home from surgery.

More Tips to Help Your Dog Heal After Spaying or Neutering Surgery

After a dog is spayed or neutered, the healing process will take 10 to 14 days. During this time, dog owners must monitor the incision for any swelling, redness or excessive drainage.

The incision from a spay or neuter surgery must be monitored closely. It’s important to check and clean the incision two to three times per day.

The wound should be disinfected daily using betadine, a no-sting antiseptic solution that’s available in the first aid section of the drug store. Hydrogen peroxide should be avoided as it can delay healing by damaging the tissue.

Discharge is normal during the first day or two following surgery. To remove the dried fluids surrounding the dog’s incision, use a warm, wet washcloth as a compress for about five to ten minutes. A wet Q-tip can then be used to remove any crusting or fluid around the incision. This should be followed with a generous amount of betadine, which should be allowed to air dry.

Photographing the incision from a surgery can be helpful for dog owners. Using a digital camera, photograph the incision site daily and compare the photographs. Overall, the wound should be improving in appearance. If the wound appears to be getting worse in terms of swelling, redness or discharge, this indicates an infection.

Photographing the dog’s incision is helpful because it can be difficult to detect subtle changes from day to day. Photos are much more reliable than having to rely on memory and they can be brought in to the veterinarian as a way to show the progression of the wound, which can be helpful if a problem arises.

Most dogs will be sent home from the vet wearing an Elizabethan collar, also known as an “e-collar,” “cone” or “lampshade.” This will prevent the dog from licking or biting at the incision and stitches. The dog will need to wear this until the stitches are removed.

Keeping a first aid kit for pets in the house is always a good idea, particularly when a dog is recovering from a surgery, as there’s always the potential for a medical emergency. Learn what items should be included in a pet emergency kit in First Aid Kits for Pets. And learn about how to know if you should visit the veterinary clinic’s emergency room in Should I Take My Dog to the Emergency Room?

(Photo Source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/625780)

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Mia Carter is a professional journalist and animal lover. Her furry family members include 6 dogs and 12 cats. She is also a feral cat colony caretaker. Carter specializes in pet training and special needs pet care. All of her animals have special needs such as paralysis, blindness, deafness and FIV, just to name a few. She also serves as a pet foster parent and she actively rehabilitates and rescues local strays and feral kittens.

9 Responses

  1. mm
    | Reply

    my standard 6 month old labradoodle came back from her spay sg and she has light blood tinged drainage from her vagina, is this typical?
    she was not in heat when we took her in yesterday morning.
    i’ve never had this with other dogs over the years that were spayed

  2. Ross
    | Reply

    My 2yr old lab mix has been eating a whole lot more after being neutered, he use to just eat here and there but now eats the entire bowl in one sitting… Could there be any relation?

  3. Maria
    | Reply

    It seems my 6 month old Rottie is urinating more frequent than normal. It’s been 2 weeks since her surgery and it seems she is leaking at times. Yesterday she went to lay down and I noticed so urine come from her. Is this a normal thing? Please help. I am going to call the vet Monday and see what she says also.

  4. Maggie
    | Reply

    My maltese got spayed yesterday and spent the night at the vet. I brought her home today and she has slept all day long and hasnt ate a bite. She has drank some water. She has peed but hasnt pooped at all. She seems a little angry when she is awake. Is she going to act like this for 10 to 14 days?

    • larry
      | Reply

      my dog a 8 month old jack Russell had the same operation on 3/5/13 and after the 1st full day she had started eating and drinking ok. they usually sleep the 1st day home but my dog recovered the 2nd day. it will be a week on 3/13/13 and my vet said can do reg things within 10 to 14 days. she has no trouble going to the bathroom and walking good. still have the e collar on until the full 14 days. hope this helped you

  5. maria
    | Reply

    my male pup got fixed monday i got him on tuesday he began to get sick we took him to the vet and they gave him antibotics for his cold… he wont eat anything.. he will drink water he wags his tell but he just wont eat help what should i do….. i have been giving him enercare that i bought from the vet … how do i make him eat

  6. Jacob
    | Reply

    Why this should be done on a dog? Unfortunately, I do not have a dog. Guidelines from you will be very useful for people who have dogs.

  7. kayla
    | Reply

    I’m 13 I just adopted my dog today and I’m going to pick him up tomorrow after he is fixed should jeep him in a pen in my kitchen

  8. Jenny
    | Reply

    I had purchased 2 dogs before some days ago, as dog enthusiast this is very helpful to me. Thanks for presenting such good information.

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