Caring for Your Dog After Spaying

Spay and neuter surgery is the most common surgical procedure performed by veterinarians; caring for your dog afterwards is very important. Although spaying and neutering has become a simple process, it is important to monitor your pet and follow basic aftercare instructions when you leave the clinic. The two to three days after your pet has been spayed or neutered are the most crucial and your dog should not be left alone for extended amounts of time. Any special instructions given by the veterinarian should be taken seriously and strictly followed.

After The Spay or Neuter Surgery

For about two weeks after the surgery, exercise should be kept to a minimum with only short walks and no excessive running, jumping or rough play. Any strenuous movement could damage or open the incision area, causing pain and possibly the need to re-suture. It is likely the dog will limit his own activity but, for high energy pets, you may need to limit their time outdoors. Be sure to check the incision regularly to make sure the area is clean and healing.

The Incision Area

Some veterinarians will use dissolvable sutures and "skin glue" that absorbs away after approximately two weeks. Other veterinarians will use silk, nylon or metal sutures that require a return visit to the vet's office for removal after 10-14 days. Regardless of the type of suture, the dog will need to remain dry for about 2 weeks. Any bathing should be done prior to surgery and any water activities will need to be postponed for two weeks. Outdoor dogs may need to be kept indoors to avoid laying in wet grass or playing in a swimming pool.

In addition to staying dry, dogs must not be allowed to lick, scratch or disturb the incision area. Any disruption could lead to infection or the need to re-suture. To avoid irritating the area, many pets will need to be fitted with an Elizabethan collar, a cone shaped plastic collar available at most pet stores. These specially designed collars come in various sizes and are not painful for the dog. They can be removed during feeding times and are usually no longer necessary after 10-14 days.

Some swelling, redness and the development of hard tissue is normal as the incision area begins to heal. Bleeding or other discharge could be a sign of infection and should be quickly seen by the veterinarian. Do not use any products internally or externally on your dog without asking a veterinarian. Many common medications or cleansers suitable for humans are not safe for dogs.

Signs Of A Problem

Dogs may initially be drowsy or sluggish after surgery but should improve within 24-48 hours. Dogs that do not improve within a couple days should also be seen by the veterinarian. Signs that may indicate a problem include lack of appetite, failure to eliminate, decreased mobility or a lethargic appearance.

In case of emergency or a rapid decline in health, have the phone number and address of an emergency animal clinic in the area. Many veterinary offices have regular, daytime, business hours and may be unreachable if your pet encounters a problem during the night. Most emergency clinics operate in the evening and early morning and should be available to see your pet immediately.