Here, our Santa Clarita vets explain what you can expect after getting your dog spayed or neutered and share tips on how you can help your pup recover from their procedure as quickly as possible.
Why It's Important To Spay Or Neuter Your Dog
Spaying or neutering your dog, also known as "fixing" your pet, are elective surgeries that involve sterilization. They are often conducted when a dog is between 4 and 6 months old, but can sometimes be performed safely on some dogs as young as 2 months old. Your veterinarian is the best person to inform you when the best time is to have your dog spayed or neutered as the ideal timing can be different for each individual dog.
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), estimates that approximately 6.5 million animals end up in shelters or rescue systems annually across the United States. Of those animals, less than half are adopted as pets, meaning that many healthy dogs are euthanized every year because there is no space for them.
An effective way for you to help reduce the number of unplanned puppies born each year (and lighten the load of rescues and shelters) is to have your dog spayed or neutered.
Getting your pup spayed or neutered also helps prevent unwanted behaviors such as roaming and dog aggression in males, and prevent regular heat cycles in females which can attract roaming males to your property. Spaying and neutering can also help protect your pet from a range of serious health conditions including certain cancers.
What To Expect Once Your Dog Gets Home
When your female dog is spayed, their uterus and ovaries are removed through a small incision in the abdominal wall so your pup can no longer get pregnant.
Typically when a male dog is neutered their testicles are removed in order to prevent the production of sperm. This means that they will no longer be able to father puppies.
Following these surgeries, your canine companion will require a little extra love and attention to make sure they have a smooth recovery.
Your Dog's Incision Site
It is very important to prevent your dog from licking or chewing at the incision site. Your vet may recommend an e-collar or recovery suit (surgical onesie) to keep them from being able to reach the area.
Female dogs will have a mid-line incision in their abdomen and male dogs will have an incision just above the scrotum.
It is important to check your dog's incision site daily. There should be no sign of redness or oozing, and swelling should be minimal. In some cases, male dogs may appear as if they still have testicles. This swelling is normal and should reduce gradually during the recovery period.
If you see any signs of infection contact your vet to get advice.
Most pets will have internal sutures that are absorbable, with the outer layer of skin being held together with water-soluble surgical glue. Don't wash the area, or apply any ointments. Follow the post-op instructions your vet provides you with.
If your pet happens to have external sutures or staples, they will need to be removed at the end of the recovery period. It's a good idea to schedule your dog's follow-up appointment when you pick them up on the day of their surgery.
Limiting Your Dog's Activity
Every pet is different, some pets are more energetic than others, however, as challenging as it may be, it's important to limit your dog's activity for about 14 days following their surgery.
Stretching and strenuous activity could make the wound open, disrupting the healing process and possibly causing infection. So, that means no running, jumping, playing or swimming. Dogs should be kept on a leash when they are outdoors.
Baths are also not allowed during this 14-day recovery period.
Female dogs that were spayed while in heat should be kept well away from male dogs that could still be attracted to her.
Feeding Your Pup
Your animal will be given general anesthesia as part of the surgical process. When your pet first comes out of surgery, the after-effects of general anesthesia can leave them feeling a little nauseous and lethargic.
Expect your dog's appetite to gradually return to normal about 24 hours after their surgery. Start by offering your pup smaller portions before moving to full-size meals.
If after 24 hours your dog is still lethargic or has symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, call your vet immediately to get further instructions.
Signs of Possible Complications
Keep in mind that while complications following a spay/neuter procedure are extremely rare, there is some level of risk involved in any surgical procedure. As a result, it's imperative to follow your veterinarian's post-operative instructions very carefully. If you don't, it will take longer for your dog to recover and may develop other complications or infections. Some of the potential side effects and complications of a spay and neuter procedure in dogs include:
- Anestetic complications
- Self-inflicted complications
- Poorly healed wound
- Scrotal bruising/swelling in males
- Incontinence problems
- Hernias in female
- Internal bleeding
- Ovarian remnants in females
Here are the signs of infection and complications you need to monitor your dog for after their spay or neuter procedure:
- Lethargy for more than a couple of days
- Refusal to eat more than a couple of meals
- Signs of pain for longer than a week (shaking, hiding, drooling)
- Acute redness, swelling, or bruising at the incision site
- Bleeding or pus from the incision site
- Vomiting or diarrhea longer than 24 hours after the procedure (some immediately after can be normal as a result of anesthesia)
- The incision site reopens
- A bad smell coming from the incision site
Your veterinarian will provide you with more information about what to expect after your pup's procedure, which may include minor swelling, lethargy, and vomiting. However, if your dog exhibits any of the above symptoms of a complication, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Recovery For Dogs After Being Spayed or Neutered
Every dog is a little different and your pup's recovery time will depend upon a number of factors including their age, size, and overall health. Generally, dogs are good to resume their normal activities after about two weeks of recovery time. Your vet may recommend a follow-up appointment before letting your dog resume strenuous activity.
Be sure to follow the post-op instructions provided by your vet and contact your veterinary clinic right away if your pet is taking longer than expected to recover from their surgery.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.