How to Care for Dogs After Spaying Surgery

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 Steward.

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Spaying should be a priority for the owner of any female dog or spaying while the dog is younger. Not only will this important procedure help prevent your pet from becoming unintentionally pregnant, it can also reduce the pet’s risk of certain health problems and undesirable behaviors that are caused by coming into heat.

Why are dogs spayed? Spaying is considered to be a fairly major procedure through surgery to and must be carried out while your pet is under the effects of a general anesthetic. This means that the initial recovery process that your spayed dog goes through is just as much about dealing with the effects of the anesthetic and pain medications as it is healing from the wound that has been created in order to perform the spay procedure.

Here is our guide to how to care for spayed dogs after spaying surgery and what to expect after spaying a dog.

As the Anesthetic Wears off After Spaying Dog Surgery

General anesthetic can take as long as 24 hours to wear off completely, and this means that your spayed dog’s behavior may be unusual until this time. Exactly how your pet is affected can vary, but typically you can expect her to be sleepy and a little unsteady on her feet while the effects of the anesthetic fade. To support them, you should:

  • walk slowly
  • keep her on the leash when she is outside
  • be prepared to help her into your vehicle and onto her bed
  • keep other animals and young children away from her

During this time, it is also important that you monitor her closely to ensure that she doesn’t have any adverse reactions while coming down from the anesthetic and to avoid any complications after spaying a dog. Keep her warm and comfortable, with easy access to water. You should also give her her meals at the usual time, but do not be alarmed if she doesn’t eat much or at all while the anesthetic wears off.

Wound Care After Spay Dog Surgery

Your spayed dog might want to lick the wound that has been created on her abdomen. However, doing so could put her at increased risk of infection and inhibit the healing process. For this reason, your furbaby will most likely be fitted with a cone or e-collar before she leaves after her procedure, as the cone or e-collar will prevent her from meddling with her wound while it heals.

Your spayed dog’s spay incision will most likely be closed with sutures. This means you cannot bathe her and should avoid taking her outside if the weather is wet. If she has had the wound closed with sutures or staples, they wNoill normally be removed 10-14 days after her spaying surgery.

Some redness, swelling and a small amount of red-tingled discharge is normal. If you notice any of the following, you should seek the advice of your vet:

  • a gap between the edges of the dog’s spay incision
  • pus or infection and swelling
  • a large amount of discharge
  • a bad smell emanating from the wound
  • bleeding in the first 36 hours after the dog surgery

In most cases, healing is fairly straightforward, and you should notice the appearance of the wound improving day on day.

Related Questions

Is It Safe For My Dog To Jump On The Couch After She Has Been Spayed?

No, it’s not safe for your female dog to jump on the couch after she has been spayed. You should restrict jumping for 10-14 days following spaying and 28 days until full activity is resumed. Check the incision site for bleeding and make sure that your dog doesn’t show signs of discomfort such as whining or lethargy if she jumps.

Is It Safe To Leave Your Spayed Dog Alone?

Yes, it’s safe to leave your spayed dog alone, yet I wouldn’t recommend that you do it for the first few days after the surgery. I recommend that you stay by your dog’s side at least for the first day after the surgery. You need to stay by your dog’s side this time to help your dog heal, manage pain, make sure that she eats, is awake, and capable of urinating or defecating.

Is There A Change In Female Dogs After Spaying?

There won’t be a change in your dog’s abilities or personality 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. Even though spaying can often reduce unwanted behavior caused by the heat cycle, there is no guarantee that your dog’s behavior will change after spaying. 

Longer Term Recovery From Spay Dog Surgery

Most veterinarians advise that you shouldn’t let your spayed dog off the leash for at least 10 to 14 days after the dog surgery. You should also prevent her from running, jumping, climbing, or playing during this time, as it could cause her wound to reopen. Instead, try and keep her as inactive as possible.

You should see a complete recovery within 14 days of their spaying surgery. If you have any concerns about the way she is healing of questions about your spayed dog’s aftercare, do not hesitate to call Care Animal Hospital to see if she might need her surgical site re-evaluated in our veterinary clinic.