How to Care for Dogs After Spaying Surgery [2024 Aftercare Guide]

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Stewart.

Home » Blog » How to Care for Dogs After Spaying Surgery [2024 Aftercare Guide]

Without proper post-operative instructions and care, you’ll only prolong your pet’s healing process after spaying, potentially causing unnecessary pain and complications. This article outlines post-op care guidelines and tips on how to care for a dog after spay.

Post-Operative Care Instructions: How to Care for a Dog After Spay

During the first 24 hours, aftercare following a dog’s spaying procedure involves having your pet wear an e-collar to prevent licking the incision, checking for signs of infection, and keeping your pet comfortable and well-fed. Seven days after the surgery, continue supervised activities. After two weeks, you can start reintroducing normal activities and diet.

Dog sleeping on a brown fluffy blanket

For long-term medical care, continue with routine check-ups and look out for any behavior changes that may indicate post-operative complications. Here’s our guide on caring for your dog after their spay surgery and what to expect after you get them spayed.

TimeframeImportant Care Routines
First 24 hoursKeep your pet warm and comfortable, with easy access to water.Monitor your pet closely for any adverse reactions to the anesthetic.Use a cone or e-collar to prevent licking or meddling with stitches.Avoid any jumping, running, or playing.
7 days afterCheck the incision regularly for signs of infection.Continue to restrict activities.Administer any prescribed pain medication.
2 weeks afterGradually start to increase your dog’s activity level.Schedule a follow-up appointment.
Long-term careFollow your veterinarian’s recommendations for routine check-ups and preventive care.

1. First 24 Hours

Spaying is a fairly common surgery and must be carried out while pets are under a general anesthetic. The initial recovery process that your spayed pet goes through is just as much about dealing with the effects of the anesthetic as it is about pain management using medication.

The first 24 hours of recovery after the procedure are very crucial. This is also when your pet is at their weakest and will rely on you for support. Here are some important aftercare instructions you should follow at this time:

  • Wound care: Use an e-collar or protective cone to prevent your pet from licking or disturbing the stitches.
  • Activity restriction: Restrict playing, jumping, and strenuous activity while your pet recovers indoors with limited mobility.
  • Food and water: Offer a small amount of food and water.
  • Rest: Allow uninterrupted rest by providing a quiet, comfortable space.
  • Medication: Administer any prescribed pain management medication exactly as directed by your veterinarian.

2. One Week After the Surgery

One week post-op, the aftercare still focuses on incision monitoring, although you’ll have more leeway since the pain should be subsiding at this point.

Woman cuddling with her dog
  • Wound care: Seven days after spay surgery, examine your pet’s incision daily for any signs of infection or opening of the stitches.
  • Activity restriction: Discourage rough play to allow the incision to heal properly.
  • Food and water: Adjust your pet’s diet as they eat normally again.
  • Rest: While rest is still important, your furry friend may have more energy seven days after surgery.
  • Medication: Continue administering any vitamins or other drugs as prescribed.

3. Two Weeks After the Procedure

By the two-week mark, your pet should be fully healed, allowing a gradual return to regular activity levels.

  • Wound care: Check that the incision has fully closed with no bloody discharge or swelling, and keep the incision dry by avoiding bathing.
  • Activity restriction: While pets can start to resume regular activity levels, avoid excessive playing that could disrupt the wound.
  • Food and water: 14 days after the procedure, your furry companion should return to their regular eating and drinking habits.
  • Rest: Extra rest may no longer be needed, although it helps to keep your dog to a confined area when unsupervised.
  • Medication: Your veterinarian may discontinue medication if the stitches heal properly.

4. Long-Term Care After Spay Surgery

Suture removal isn’t usually necessary unless specified by the vet. Note that some veterinarians mark the incision area with a small green tattoo to indicate the spay procedure.

After the initial recovery period, your dog’s long-term care should focus on maintaining a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Aside from that, pets typically do not need any further pain relief medication once the incision has fully healed.

However, it’s important to note that pets remain fertile up to four weeks after surgery, and females in heat during the procedure can still breed for up to 10 days after surgery. You may also require follow-up visits to monitor the health of your beloved pet.

Wound Care for a Spayed Dog: Protecting the Incision Site

In most cases, healing is fairly straightforward. With proper precautions like restricted activity and monitoring the stitches, most pets can return to their typical selves within a week or two under your attentive supervision. However, you can speed up your pet’s recovery with these steps:

Dog sitting on a bed while her owner is standing near a mirror

Use an Elizabethan Collar

Your spayed pet might want to lick the wound that has been created on her abdomen. This can put her at increased risk of infection and slow down the healing process. 

Your dog will most likely be fitted with a cone or e-collar after her procedure, as the cone or e-collar will prevent her from meddling with her wound while it heals.

Consider Alternatives to E-Collars

I also recommend these alternatives to a traditional Elizabethan collar, especially for small dogs,  to keep the incision dry:

  1. Onesies: These bodysuits, that button around the midsection, provide coverage without a cone.
  2. Inflatable collars: These are soft, pillow-like collars that are less intrusive than hard plastic cones.
  3. DIY garments or sleeves: You can also make altered boxer shorts or pants, putting the dog’s hind legs through the leg holes and securing the extra fabric on their back.

Changes to Expect in Your Pet Days After Surgery

In the days following your dog’s spay surgery, you may notice some changes in your pet. For the first few days after surgery, your furry friend would experience some common side effects. However, other aspects may need prompt medical care. 

Normal Issues After the Procedure

These are common effects that will resolve on their own, especially after a day or two.

  • A small amount of bloody discharge
  • Slight bruising around the incision
  • Crying or whining
  • Not urinating or defecating on their normal potty schedules
  • Decreased energy and appetite during the first 24 to 48 hours after the procedure

Causes for Concern After the Spaying Procedure

Some redness, swelling, and a small amount of red-tinged discharge are normal. It’s best to return to our clinic if you notice any of the following concerns:

Woman scratching her dog's back while they're sitting on a bed
  • Pus or infection
  • A large amount of discharge
  • A bad smell emanating from the wound
  • Bleeding in the first 36 hours
  • Intermittent vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inability to stand up or walk
  • Open incision area (especially for a female dog)

Related Questions

What Not to Do After Your Pet Gets Spayed?

After your dog’s spaying procedure, you should not allow them to engage in activities or lick the incision, as this can lead to swelling, infection, and disruption of the healing process. Avoiding these activities can prevent potential complications.

How Long Does It Take for a Pet to Recover From Being Spayed?

Most pets fully recover from being spayed within 10 to 14 days, provided the pet’s incision is dry and heals properly without any concerns. However, you need to follow your veterinarian’s care instructions and attend any recommended check-ups for a successful recovery.

How Do You Take Care of a Female Pet After Being Spayed?

After a female dog’s spay  surgery, follow your veterinarian’s post-operative care instructions, including restricting activity, monitoring the incision, administering prescribed medications, and going for check-ups. Proper care and close observation during the recovery period can prevent complications.

Is It Safe for Pets to Jump On The Couch After They Have Been Spayed?

It’s unsafe for pets to jump on the couch after getting spayed. In fact, you should restrict jumping for 10 to 14 days following spaying. Check the incision for bleeding, and be on the lookout for any signs of discomfort.

Is It Safe to Leave Your Spayed Pet Alone?

Yes, it’s safe to leave your spayed pet alone, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it in the first few days after the surgery. I recommend staying by your dog’s side at least for the first day to help them with pain management.

Is There a Change in Female Pets After Spaying?

After spaying, female dogs tend to display different behaviors associated with the heat cycle. There may be less roaming, less frequent urination, and less irritability and fighting.


By following these post-operative care recommendations, you can help your dog recover quickly and safely after the spay surgery. Regular check-ups and check-ins about your dog’s health with our clinic’s veterinary team can help you address concerns in the healing process, enabling you to give the best care to your fur baby.