Congratulations on making the excellent decision to spay and neuter your pets! The health, behavioural, financial, and community benefits of this surgery are so important. But once the hard part is over, how soon can you get back to enjoying your time together as a family? Read on to learn how to ensure that everything goes well with your pet's post-operative recovery.
Immediately Following Surgery to Spay and Neuter Your Pets
You get the call that surgery went well, and it is time to pick up your pet. What now?
First, it is a good idea to bring a towel and/or a pet carrier with you to make sure the ride home is as easy and stress-free as possible. Does your pet have a favorite toy? If so, it may be a good idea to bring that with you too.
Animals are put under anesthesia for a short time during surgery. These medications affect pets in different ways. Some animals wake up feeling like their normal selves almost right away, but others may feel groggy and out of sorts for a while.
Sometimes vets apply an ointment to your pet's eyes so that they don't dry out during the procedure. This isn't painful but can cause some blurry vision for a while after they get home, which can add to their sense of disorientation.
For these reasons, it is a good idea to keep your pet indoors in a space that is dark and quiet and to keep them separate from other animals (and sometimes even small children).
A word of caution: when an animal isn't feeling quite like themselves there is an increased likelihood of stress, which can impede healing or even cause them to bite and scratch.
Any mood-altering side-effects of anesthesia usually wear off in about 24 hours, and additional pain medication isn't usually necessary.
Can Your Pet Eat or Drink?
While it's tempting, resist the urge to give your pet treats immediately after surgery. It's best to start with plain water in small amounts.
If your pet tolerates this well, keep a small bowl of freshwater nearby.
When your pet is fully alert, it's safe to offer food. Nutrition aids the healing process. Again, start small. If your pet vomits, wait, and try again the following morning.
24 hours after surgery it's ok to offer food in normal quantities at regular times. Don't be too concerned if your pet isn't interested in eating for a day or so, as they may still feel nauseous. But if they still aren't eating or drinking after two days, call your vet.
Litter boxes for cats should be cleaned and placed nearby to minimize walking after surgery.
Instead of using regular litter, it's best to use litter made from shredded paper. The dust created by normal litter can get into incisions and cause irritation or infection.
For dogs, a quick walk on a leash to use the bathroom is a good idea. Keep it short for the first 24 hours or so. If they aren't interested, that's ok, too.
Check your pet's urine for blood. A small amount is normal for the first 24-48 hours, but after that, call your vet.
Anesthesia medication can cause constipation and/or diarrhea for a few days, but if bowel habits aren't normal after 72 hours, it's a good idea to consult your vet.
After a day or two, your pet's activity levels can and will usually return to their pre-op norm. Keep them indoors for about a week to minimize risk and so that you can monitor them closely.
For about a week after surgery, you will need to keep their stair-climbing, running, jumping, and rigorous play to a minimum.
Do not bathe your pet for two weeks post-surgery because water can damage sutures and interfere with healing.
Monitor Your Pet
Check the surgical site a few times a day for the first few days to look for signs of infection. If you notice excessive redness, drainage, pus, or opening of the surgical site, call your vet right away.
It's normal for your pet to lick the area, but a cone can help with excessive licking.
Razor burn is normal and usually not a big deal. Sutures can cause some swelling, but it should be minimal.
After two weeks, your vet will remove any external sutures and absorbable ones should be less noticeable.
Aftercare Made Easy
At Kato Animal Hospital we take great care to spay and neuter your pets so that no further action from you is necessary. If you have any questions or concerns after surgery, we are here to help. When we work together, your pet will feel back to normal in no time.