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Dog Spay Recovery: What's Normal and What Are Some Warning Signs

How to Take Care of Your Dog When She Gets Home

By Sora Wondra. December 06, 2013 | See Comments

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A Dog With An Elizabeth Collar

Having surgery is never fun for anyone, including pets. When your dog gets home from being spayed, the recovery time is usually quick. Find out about the recovery process and what to keep an eye out for to ensure your pooch is feeling like her old self in no time.

Spaying your dog is a great way to give your dog a longer, healthier life. It is a routine surgery and most dogs go home the same day, recovering within a couple weeks. Here’s what you’ll need to know about dog spay recovery when you bring your dog home from the vet.

When You First Come Home

Before you leave the vet, schedule a post-operative check-up. They may be available for free. Your vet surgeon may have also prescribed painkillers, so make sure to have your prescription filled and use only as directed.

During recovery, your dog should have a quiet place to herself. Keep her away from other pets and children for a few days. Let her get a lot of rest and keep her confined in a crate or small room the first night.

Dogs often want to lick or chew the incision site, and can easily re-open the wound. Buy an e-collar and have her wear it for a week to keep her from reaching the site. She probably won't like it for the first day, but will get used to it.

Keep in mind that anesthesia used during surgery can upset the stomach. Restrict food intake for 2-3 hours, then give her small amounts. If she vomits, take away her food until morning.

Activity Levels

For the first few weeks, don't let her jump up high onto beds, stairs, or sofas to keep her from pulling on the stitches. Don't give her a bath or let the incision site get wet for 10 days. If it gets dirty, consult with your vet about how to clean the site.

As much as possible, keep her inside. You can go on short walks with a leash but try not to let her run, jump, or play for about a week. You'll also need to keep her away from male dogs for a month after surgery, since she may still attract them and mating could hurt her.

What's Normal?

During recovery, you should expect your dog to be sleepy, and you may see some swelling or blood. Certain reactions and symptoms are normal:

  • Groggy, sleepy, or agitated on the first day
  • A small amount of blood around the surgery site for the first day and a small amount of swelling and redness for a week. If your dog was in heat, she may have discharge for a couple days
  • A green tattoo marking her as spayed
  • Mild coughing for the first day or two
  • Eyes that look weepy—sometimes an ointment is used during surgery

What's Not Normal and When to Seek Immediate Care

Sometimes there are complications after surgery. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should contact your vet or an animal hospital as soon as possible.

The First Day

  • Your dog is unable to stand or walk after 12 hours

After the First Day

Anytime

  • Difficulty breathing
  • The incision re-opens
  • Significant bleeding, swelling, drainage, or fever
More on Spaying Your Dog

How Much Should Spaying a Pet Cost?
Causes and Prevention of Cancer in Dogs and Cats
Budgeting For the Cost of a Dog

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Spaying Your Dog at a glance

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  • 1Most dogs recover from spaying within two weeks and have no complications.
  • 2It's normal for your dog to be tired and have some mild swelling at first.
  • 3If these persist after a couple of days, it could mean there is a problem.
  • 4If your dog is bleeding heavily or having trouble breathing or standing, you should seek immediate help.