A dog lies down to recover after surgery.

Surgical sterilization of cats and dogs is one of the best ways to address overpopulation, but there are important health benefits to the procedure as well. Spaying a female pet is more involved than neutering a male, but post-operative care is the same. Knowing what to expect in the hours and days after a spay/neuter surgery is necessary for a successful outcome. Your pet’s recovery might not be without certain challenges, but it’s worth it!

The Long View

Pets that aren’t spayed or neutered may suffer from various illnesses, including breast cancer, testicular cancer, problems with the uterus or prostate, and even infections. Plus, certain behavioral issues may persist, such as wandering, marking, or aggression. 

Without a doubt, spaying or neutering your pet is an important decision, but the benefits outweigh the risks. 

Surgical Details

Pets are anesthetized for these procedures and fully monitored and observed for any potential issues. Typical side effects of anesthesia are grogginess and nausea. Pets should be given plenty of time to rest in a cozy, quiet spot. 

A spay involves the surgical removal of the ovaries (and sometimes the uterus); a neuter is the surgical removal of a male’s testicles. As a result, there is usually pain associated with the procedure. Discomfort should be addressed and treated, but should wear off in a few days. If it lasts longer than that, please let us know. 

Your Pet’s Recovery

The first 2-3 days should be quiet for your pet. They’ll need encouragement to eat and drink, and may need help going to the bathroom. Bland, neutral food can be offered, but don’t be surprised if they turn it down at first. They’ll start to regain their appetite soon.

Their surgical site should be protected by an Elizabethan collar. If your pet cannot access the site to lick, bite, or chew at the incision and the stitches/staples, the wound has a better chance of healing. 

Your pet should not be allowed to run, jump, or play in the time set aside for recovery. You may have to crate or pen them to reduce the risk of damaging the incision. Also, access to any swimming or bathing must be restricted until they have fully healed, about 10-14 days after surgery. 

Without Incident

Look for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge at the surgery site. If your pet is lethargic, won’t eat, or experiences vomiting or diarrhea, it’s time to get them help. 

The Importance of Spaying and Neutering

Most shelter pets are spayed or neutered prior to being listed as “adoptable.” Indeed, adopting a pet after they have their surgery certainly has its benefits. However, responsible pet owners see the importance of these surgeries. 

If you have additional questions about spaying or neutering, or have concerns about your pet’s behavior, Naperville Animal Hospital is your one-stop for a state-of-the-art approach to pet health.