The Basics on Neuter and Spay Recovery for Dogs

Posted on
June 27, 2018

If you decided to spay or neuter your dog, you’ve made a good decision as not only can the procedure eliminate some health risks for your dog, but it also ensures that you are not adding to the millions of unwanted puppies and dogs in shelters and even euthanized every year. However, your dog has just gone through a pretty serious surgery.

In order to ensure a proper recovery, there are a few things you’ll need to follow:

Why Spay or Neuter?

If you are considering getting your do spayed or neutered, or if you’ve already had your pet go through the procedure and are freaking out when you hear that he’s going to gain weight and have a totally different personality, then rest assured. Here’s the truth about spaying or neutering your dog.

reasons to spay & neuter chart
Image courtesy of Mildmay Veterinary Clinic

First off, spaying or neutering your dog can actually improve his health on several fronts. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that spaying your dog can allow her to live a longer, healthier life by preventing uterine infections and breast tumors—which tend to be cancerous in 50 percent of female dogs. To reap these benefits, its best to spay your dog before her first heat, which usually occurs at six months or onwards. In the case of male dogs, neutering prevents testicular cancer and prostate problems.

Behavioral perks to spaying and neutering include a better-behaved male dog, as he will be less likely to mark his territory with urine, mount other dogs (or humans…an unfortunate experience), and neutering might minimize possible aggression if the procedure is done early enough. Male dogs will also be less likely to roam and try to escape the house. Behavior changes in male dogs are due to a lower level of testosterone in their bodies. In the case of spaying, female dogs will no longer go into heat, which also means they won’t urinate as frequently.

Side Effects—are they true?

person walking and exercising their dog

Now what about those rumors? First, it is common for a dog to gain weight after being sprayed or neutered. This is first because dogs tend to become less physically active afterwards—as mentioned earlier, and this is a good thing in many ways when it comes to impulsivity—and because neutering/spraying can cause changes in metabolism that either increases appetite, slows metabolism, or both. Therefore, it’s important to monitor your dog’s weight, especially at first, in order to adjust the amount of food you give him if necessary. Weight gain does not happen in all dogs, though, and if you are good about exercising your dog, this is less likely.

Recovery

As can be expected, your dog is in some pain. The process of spaying or neutering is a serious surgery, as spaying entails the removal of a female dog’s ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus while neutering involves the removal of a male dog’s testicles and their associated structures. Therefore, in many cases, the vet will send pain medication home with your dog.

Just as with humans recovering from surgery, though, your dog should abstain from physical activity for at least two weeks: don’t let him run around or jump on and off of furniture. Also, keep him inside and away from animals, first to avoid any scuffles with Kitty his arch, but also to avoid rough playing that might injure your dog. If you can’t supervise your dog, then keep him in a crate or small room. You want to ensure that the incision site is undisturbed by physical motion and able to heal properly. The basic reason for this is gross, but simple: the stitches could pop off and risk intestinal displacement or internal bleeding.

dog looking up with big, puppy eyes

With this said, you must make sure that your dog is not tampering with the incision site. As is the case with wound care, keep an Elizabethan collar on your dog so he can’t lick the stitches, especially if you are not there to supervise him. Stitches can get very itchy after several days, so your dog might tamper with them if left to his own devices. Check the site twice each day. Why two times a day? It can be hard to gage whether or not the incision site looks right, but the more frequently you check it, the better you’ll be able to detect sudden changes. Redness, swelling, and discharge are signs of infection, so take your dog to the vet as soon as possible if you sot these. However, some bruising and redness is usual—pointing again to why you need to check the site frequently.  

Don’t bathe your dog for at least 10 days after the surgery, though some veterinarians recommend 14. If your dog gets into something really gross and you really must clean him to preserve your sanity, use a water-less shampoo and avoid the incision site completely.

Exact numbers as to when your dog can continue normal physical activity and be bathed, though, should come from your veterinarian, who can gauge how well the wound is recovering. However, a good rule of thumb is that if a dog begins to act more energetic and playful again, then he is on the road to recovery. On the other hand, lethargy, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting are warning signs that your dog needs to see a vet.

Posted on
June 27, 2018
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Advice
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