Image via iStock.com/PeopleImages
By Jennifer Coates, DVM
It can be a little nerve-racking to bring your pet home after surgery—even after standard procedures like spaying or neutering. Although we know these particular surgeries are for the best, it’s still tough to see your dog in recovery.
If you’ve never had a pet spayed or neutered before, you might be wondering what to expect when it comes to neuter and spay recovery for dogs.
Some dogs bounce back more quickly than others, but there are ways to ease the recovery process. You can set your pet up for success by being as prepared as possible before you bring them home.
An efficient way to do this is to assemble a home kit for neuter and spay recovery for dogs with everything your pet will require. If you have a friend who is adopting a new pet, you might also consider gifting them with one of these practical kits.
What to Expect for Dogs Recovering From Neutering or Spaying
Before you leave the veterinary clinic, ask any questions you have regarding post-op care. Some people prefer to bring a list of questions with them in case they forget something in the moment. If any questions do slip your mind, remember that you can always call your vet for advice.
Your dog will likely be groggy, or at the very least, more subdued than usual. It’s not uncommon for a dog to take it very easy for the first 24 hours following a surgery. If your dog seems eager to run around, you’ll need to slow them down.
Care Tips for Neuter and Spay Recovery for Dogs
To prevent the incision from opening up, do not allow any jumping, running or rambunctious play for 10 days or so after surgery. Dogs recovering from neutering or spaying may need to be separated from other pets in the home.
Ensuring complete healing is key. Many pets require a dog recovery collar or dog cone around the head to prevent them from licking at the incision.
Call your vet if you notice any of the following:
- Swelling or discharge at the incision site
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
What to Put in Your Home Recovery Kit
Now for the fun part—assembling your home kit for neuter and spay recovery for dogs. The purpose of the kit is to gather items that will both promote healing and provide comfort to your pet. While each dog is unique, there are some universally handy products for post-op care.
- Dog Beds: One way to bribe your pet into slowing down for a while is to offer a comfortable bed. Ideally, the bed will have a removable cover that you can unzip and toss in the washing machine. Two such options are the Petmate suede and plush antimicrobial orthopedic deluxe pet bed and the Frisco orthopedic bolster sofa dog bed.
- Dog Blankets: If your dog prefers sitting next to you on the couch, you can protect your furniture and create a cozy space for them with dog blankets like the PetFusion premium reversible dog and cat blanket. Dog crates can also be made comfier with a machine-washable blanket like the Frisco Sherpa dog blanket.
- Pain Relief: Your vet has given your dog something for pain relief at the clinic and will probably send some pet pain medication home for you to give as well. Dog antibiotics may also be prescribed if the vet decides it’s required.
- Dog Toys: Other useful tools for keeping your dog quiet are engaging dog toys. Dog interactive toys, such as the Trixie Activity flip board interactive dog toy, can keep your pet from becoming bored. Toys like the Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound tornado interactive dog toy provide much-needed mental stimulation. The most appropriate dog toys post-surgery will be ones that require minimal movement and effort.
- Calming Aids: Dogs who are prone to anxiety might benefit from the use of calming aids. Anxiety management products for dogs can include everything from chews to aromatherapy. If you opt for dog calming supplements, such as Dr. Lyon’s calming aid soft chews, remember to consult your vet beforehand. Products that contain natural ingredients like melatonin, including NaturVet Quiet Moments calming aid dog soft chews, are usually perfectly safe, but it’s still best to confirm with your vet that it’s suitable for your dog. Another popular product for anxious dogs is the ThunderShirt anxiety and calming aid for dogs. The dog ThunderShirt applies gentle, consistent pressure to soothe anxiety and fear.
- Dog Cones/Collars: Since dogs have a natural urge to lick their wounds, the Elizabethan collar, or e-collar, is a valuable asset in post-op care. Instead of bringing home the traditional cones for dogs that you usually get from the vet’s office, consider purchasing alternatives to dog cones. The Comfy Cone e-collar for dogs and cats, for example, is soft and offers a more flexible fit. If you’d like a very soft option for pups with tons of personality, look into the Alfie Pet Noah lion dog and cat recovery collar. This type of cone collar is about as lightweight and flexible as they get. A machine-washable collar, such as the KONG EZ soft collar for dogs and cats, might be the best option for dogs who are prone to making a mess. The soft fabric will also prevent your dog from knocking everything over as he moves about with his cone on. Another dog cone alternative is the Suitical recovery suit for dogs. This is an option for dogs who dislike having anything around their heads. It has built-in pockets for gauze pads and is made from a breathable, machine-washable fabric.
As stressful as it can be taking care of your beloved pet after surgery, remember that you’re doing them a great service. By putting together a home kit, you’ll have everything on hand to keep them comfortable and speed up dog spay and dog neuter recovery.