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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 December 06, 2013 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian


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


  • 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.


We just had our 9yr old pitbull spayed. She had uterus infection. They did the spay and things went fine. Went to pick her up from vet and they told me she had to stay because she herniated between her stiches. They told me they had to open her back up. Picked her up the next day no real issues the first 3 days. We are day 5 and she will not eat or drink for day and half. When I walk her in the yard she will only rub her butt on the ground.She only wants to lay around and not be bothered. She is still on her antibotic for a few more days.Called vet and they stated she may have herniated again. So back to the vet we go. How long is this going to last? Will this keep happening? Is this normal? Are certain breeds more prone to these type of issues?


our dog was spayed last Thursday and today is tue night. she is still growling at us and our kids when we go anywhere near her cage and at our other dog. she will barely come out of her cage. is this normal? being on the pain med didn't change it she acted the same. she was not anything like this before her surgery that's why I'm worried. I want my non altered dog back!


My female dog got spayed Oct 6 she thinks she wants to play but she makes me nervous bc of her stiches break etc she hasn't lick her insulin yet but I got become by me first fees days her head was lik a bubble head toy I took to vet I told em thy chked her thy said she looks healthy she's on meds how wud I kno if her stiches r opening up sofar it's looks normal red not as much of swolleness me I get do neverours she slept w us in bed many times she can get comfy wat I do is I put a blanket von her lol so she dnt lick her stuff thanks u let me kno wat I can do etc tanks u Tabby


Its turning red, and Lil swelling. What to do?


My dog was 10 and she had what we thought was a tumor. We thought that she was still in heat and we were going to wait to have her spayed when she stopped bleeding. It was a good thing that we did not wait since she had a uterus infection and her uterus had caused her to have a hernia with part of her uterus protruding into the hernia. She had pyometra and could have died if we had waited. She had gone past the weeks a dog is usually in heat. Everyone just be alert to any thing unusual in your dog's habits.

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Spaying Your Dog at a glance

  • 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.
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