Many owners, especially first timers may have concerns on taking proper care of their dogs after spay/neuter operation, those that do not know what to expect could easily be traumatized by the experience along with their dogs. This is why we have decided to come up with a basic guide on preparation as well taking proper care of your dog during the healing process. Before deciding on spaying/neutering your dog, it is good to first read up the pros and cons of doing it, don't spay/neuter your dog just because other people do it, check it up, study about it and take some time to decide.
Spay/neuter is one of the simplest operation procedure to be done on dogs, it is simple, fast and healing process usually takes a short period of time, about 7 to 10 days. However just like human's operation, most may feel weaker than they really are right after any surgery especially when anesthesia is involved, so don't be surprised if you see your dog looking weaker than usual after the process.
Once you have decided to spay/neuter your dog, it will be wise to plan your schedule ahead and prepare the things that you might need to keep your dog comfortable.
First of all you got to choose a good vet, we always recommend owners to start finding a permanent and reputable vet before they trust them with any operation procedure. This can be a simple $30 check up or vaccination, what you want to see here is whether or not you are comfortable with the particular vet - talk to them, ask questions and decide for yourself. It is also important to choose the location, having a vet that is near your place might save your dog's life in time of need, not only that, you will also save a lot of time traveling to and fro, the trip will also be much more comfortable for your dog too. If your area does not have a good vet, we will then recommend you to travel the distance to see a good vet, this is much better than to consult one that is easily accessible but will not benefit or even risk endangering your dog.
If you have already booked an appointment with the vet you trust, this is the time to prepare the stuff you will need when your dog comes back from the operation. Below is a short checklist, it is not a must but preparing them will definitely aid your dog during healing process.
Things to have ♥ Blanket/pillow/towel for comfortable rest ♥ Elizabeth collar if you do not want to purchase from your vet ♥ Comfortable dog carrier (a carrier is better than hand carry)
♥ Diffusing essential oils like lavender can support relaxation
♥ Treats to reward your dog
♥ 2-3 days off from work to take better care of your dog
♥ Camera to record healing process
Things to adjust ♥ Have a blanket/pillow near your dog's resting area ♥ Place the water nozzle slightly below normal height so that your dog can reach it even when lying down.
♥ Prepare a fenced area/crate for resting
Understanding the process
The process of spaying/neutering is relatively simple, having a rough understanding of how the procedure works will give you better assurance so that you can be prepared on what to expect. Both spaying and neutering process are slightly different but the target is the same, to remove just the reproduction organs. We will briefly explain to you the process below using simple terms.
Both spaying and neutering process requires anesthesia, during anesthesia your dog will not feel any pain or remember anything that happens during the operation. Before anesthetizing your dog, the vet will advice you not to let your dog eat or drink the night before, this is to prevent vomiting during the surgery. Surgery for sterilization will not last any more than a day as it is considered a simple procedure.
For Neutering - Male
The vet will first administer the dog with a small dose of anesthetics, then a small incision will be done near the dog's testicles, after which testicles are removed through the small incision and the vet will suture the incision. After the operation all it takes is to wait for the dog to wake up on its own, the vet might need a couple of hours to monitor and see if there are any side effects, if everything is fine, the owner can then proceed to collect their dog back.
For Spaying - Female Spaying a female dog is more complicated, because of the blood vessels connecting to the reproductive organs. If the female dog is spayed before its first heat, the blood vessels are smaller and operation will be much easier. First the dog needs to be anesthetized, then incision will be done near the abdomen of the dog. Next the vet will need to clamp down the blood vessels before removing the ovaries and uterus, and finally, suture the incision and wait for the dog to wake up. The vet might need a couple of hours to monitor and see if there are any side effects, if everything is fine, the owner can then proceed to collect their dog back.
Taking care Now when your dog wakes up from the operation, it may look weak and sometimes in pain, this is very normal and should be expected. The vet will prescribe you a couple of medications and also an e-collar, do follow the instructions provided.
This was Amber at 6 months old after spaying.
At this point of time you should already have the things prepared to keep your dog comfortable. Once your dog is home, allow it rest in the resting area, don't call or force them to walk, your dog may be very tired and uncertain of it's situation, be sure to have the e-collar on to prevent your dog from licking it's wound.
Do expect your dog to behave differently for the first few days because of the discomfort on the wound, it may yelp at times or just hide at a corner. This is very normal and it will not be advisable to cuddle your dog when this happens, you could try to hold it's body with your palms firmly to see if it will calm down - holding onto a dog actually gives them a better sense of protection compared to hugging/carrying. Hugging/carrying your dog may not only cause your dog to exaggerate the pain and get traumatized, you might also hurt and open up the stitches and wound. No matter how sad your dog may look, it is still beneficial to do the right thing by helping to speed up the healing process, instead of superficial actions to make yourself feel good instead.
Meals might be hard for your dog to finish. At least for the first 2 days, we recommend full monitoring and hand feeding if there's a need. Hand feeding should only be done if your dog cannot reach the food by itself, you can feed a couple handful and then try guiding your dog to the bowl. If your dog still finds it hard to reach then feel free to hand feed all the way. Do not turn this into a routine though, make sure you hand feed sparingly or else you might be training a dog to demand hand feeding every single meal in future.
Do remember not to make your dog exercise or even walk at least for the first 2 days, you do not want the wound to end up opening all over again! Only after 2 days of progressive care then you can proceed and try walking your dog around the house, do it slowly, use some treats. Never allow your dog to run or jump, if this happens then don't give any treats and leave it alone to rest, come back only when it is calm. You should always check for any openings of wound during cleaning, do also check if there's any bleeding or pus, if there are anything that looks unsure, call your vet.
It's great to keep record of your dog's healing process, the easiest way is to take pictures of the wound every day, doing so can let you compare the progress, to see if there are anything different, if the wound is better or actually getting worst etc.
Some vets may provide your dog with an antiseptic solution, every time before you wipe your dog with the antiseptic solution, take a picture. If at any time there is something that looks off, call your vet and ask about it, by day 4 the wound should look good, there might be some bruises but the wound should look closed and not the other way round.
You may think that during healing process your dog will need to skip training, this is not true, you can too continue training as long as it does not risk your dog's wound in any ways.
The main reason with dog's behavior becoming worst is because of owners spoiling them during the healing process! By training we do not mean asking your dog to run about or to do tricks and tough commands, training can simply be maintaining your emotions and keeping rules in check, most importantly avoiding unnecessary affections. In fact, healing process could instead be a good time to teach a dog, because they have less energy and their body requires more rest than usual, this may even turn out to be a good chance to get your dog used to things it didn't like in the past, for example crate training, grooming or general cleaning.
We will share examples on what you can train on a day by day basis below, this will give you a rough idea on the limitations.
Day 1 to 2
• maintain a calm tone, don't do things like "aww", "poor thing", "I love you" etc, this may cause your dog feel even more uncomfortable.
• no hugging
Your dog is at it's weakest point here, so don't force it to do anything. Try to control your emotions instead, showing sad expressions or crying does not benefit your dog in any ways. You should still continue to do what you have to, eg. Holding onto your dog if it is startled, hand feeding. Try to act as if there is nothing wrong in front of your dog to let them feel normal, although deep down you are still preparing and making necessary arrangements. This is what we call love.
Day 3 to 6
• let your dog roam around while being monitored
• put on the leash and walk your dog in the house
• carry them downstairs if you can cope
Most dogs should be out of pain but may still be uncomfortable, your dog should start wandering around and might attempt to interact with you. Remember, there should not be any rough plays/exercise at this point of time. You can now start to make use of this chance to train your dog on things that were hard to teach before, eg. wearing clothes, grooming. A lot of owners that followed our advice found their dog learning better during this period of time, you should limit physical handling (carrying, hugging, physical positioning) and focus more on treats and light commands. For clothes, get those that can be worn or wrapped over your dog's body, don't get those t-shirt kind for now. And for grooming, just brush and comb your dog as per normal, never skip grooming, most dogs react better to grooming during healing process, and after they recover it becomes a habit to stay calmer during grooming sessions.
Don't walk your dog outdoors yet, you can carry it down instead, this can help them relief some stress. You can carry your dog to the nearby park, let them see some people, breathe in fresh air. If your dog is not responding very well or gets over excited/anxious whenever they see strangers then feel free to skip this step for now.
Day 7 - 10
• continue step 1 and 2 above
• start walking your dog nearby
• compare the pictures
Still, no running for now even though your dog looks completely healed. Wait till the vet says okay then you can do it. Even though you might see the incision wound healing up, sometimes the suture inside might not be fully healed yet. You can slowly walk your dog outside on leash as per normal, don't let it lie down for now, dirt might be caught up on the wound.
If you had been taking pictures of the healing process, compare them, you should be seeing a fully closed wound with just a light scar that will clear up after a month or two.