While spaying and neutering your dog is considered to be a fairly routine procedure these days, it’s a good idea to give some thought to the post-operative situation when your pet comes home from the veterinary clinic. Thoughtful preparation can make this period more comfortable and safer for your dog.
Here’s What to Expect When Spaying and Neutering Your Dog
While many dogs bounce back relatively quickly from their surgery, some take it harder than others. There are many factors contributing to how quickly (or not) your pooch recovers, but it’s a good idea to be prepared for the worst, and hope for the best. Try to arrange for the spay or neuter when you have some time off work or other commitments following the surgery. If you can’t arrange for time off, see if a friend or reliable dog sitter would be willing to spend a day or two with your pet, just to keep an eye on things when you can’t be there.
Ensure that the area where your pet will recover is warm and clean. Wash all bedding and blankets to avoid infection at the surgical site. A quiet area of your home is a good idea, too – pets are often pretty groggy from the general anesthetic when they are released from the vet clinic and will appreciate a quiet spot to recuperate. Keep other pets and children away from the patient.
Take a friend or a family member to the clinic when you go to pick up your pooch. Consider how your pet will ride home, crates can be an option, or have someone sit with your dog (who is safely strapped in).
What to Expect
Generally, dogs will be brighter within a few days of the surgery, but that doesn’t mean that they should be exposed to a lot of exercise or play time. Surgical wounds take up to a couple of weeks to heal so short, on-leash walks are advisable.
Your dog may have a slight cough for a couple of days following the surgery. This is usually caused by a tube that is often placed in the windpipe to administer oxygen and anesthetic during the surgery.
For the first few days following surgery your dog may be lethargic. He or she may eat less, and there may be some diarrhea or vomiting. If you are concerned call your vet clinic to discuss the issues your dog is having.
Because of the fact that your dog may be eating and drinking less than normal, it’s not unusual for your buddy to also not eliminate at his usual rate. Some dogs will go up to three days without defecating post-surgery.
Most vet clinics will dispense pain medications for home administration following neutering or spaying. Monitor your pet for indications of pain and be sure to give the medications in the appropriate dosage at the correct intervals. By preventing the pain from taking hold you will add to your dog’s overall comfort and recovery.
Check the Surgical Site
The surgical site should be checked a couple of times a day for signs of infection, swelling or discharge. If there are stitches or staples that have come out, excessive pain or discharge, call your vet. With male dogs, there may be some swelling in the scrotum area for the first few days following neutering.
Surgical Site Protection
Many dogs will lick at the surgical site once they are home and recovered from the anesthetic. This runs the risk of doing damage to the site and preventing or delaying recovery. There are various methods of keeping your pet from bothering the incision, including Elizabethan collars, inflatable neck braces that will prevent your pet from turning his or her head and, newer on the market, surgical ‘onesies’ that can be worn by females who have just been spayed.
Things to Avoid After Surgery
- No rough-housing with other pets or children should be allowed during the first couple of weeks following surgery.
- Don’t give your canine buddy a bath for at least 10-14 days after surgery
- If at all possible, you pet should not be allowed to go up and down stairs
- Don’t let your pooch jump in and out of your vehicle or on and off furniture
Dogs recover from spay and neuter surgery at varying rates, depending on their age, general health status and a host of other factors. If you have any concerns at all don’t hesitate to talk to your veterinarian. It will put your mind at rest and may save your dog from unnecessary complications.
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