Some animals are active after surgery, while others remain quiet for a while. Either way, it is very important that you limit your pet's movements during the 7–10 day recovery period, as strenuous activity, such as running, jumping, roughhousing with other pets, and/or overactive playing, could disrupt the healing process. Dogs should go out on a leash to urinate and defecate and should not return to long walks or runs until after the 7-10 day recovery period.
Your pet’s appetite should return to normal within 24-48 hours of surgery. They are able to have their regular food following surgery; however some pets may not feel like eating or not eat as much for the first day or so. Do not change your pet's diet at this time, and do not give them junk food, table scraps, milk, or any other "people food" for seven days. Changes in their diet could hide post-surgical complications. Although patients' reactions to surgery can vary, lethargy (lasting for more than 24 hours after surgery) or persistent diarrhea or vomiting are NOT normal, and you should contact us or your full-service veterinarian if these occur. We can then assess if your pet needs to be further examined by a medical professional.
Keep Incision Dry
Dogs and female cats have internal sutures that provide strength to the tissue as they heal; these will dissolve after approximately four months. Surgical glue has also been applied to the skin to seal the incision against bacterial penetration. Male cats do not have any sutures, and, unless you are told otherwise, your pet does not have external sutures. If you are told that your pet has skin sutures or skin staples, they will need to return in 7–10 days to have those removed.
Do not bathe your pet during the recovery period, or apply topical ointment to the incision site—the surgical glue on the incision will dissolve too quickly if it becomes wet. Pets must be kept indoors where they can stay clean, dry, and warm, although dogs can be walked on a leash to go to the toilet.
Check Incision Twice Daily
Female dogs and cats have a mid-line incision in their abdomen. Male dogs have an incision just above the scrotum, and male cats have two incisions, one on each side of the scrotum. Check these incision sites at least twice daily. What you see at your pet’s incision site when we discharge your pet is what we consider normal. There should be no drainage, and redness and swelling should be minimal. Male cats may appear as if they still have testicles; this is normal, and the swelling should subside gradually through the recovery period.
Do not allow your pet to lick or chew at the incision
If this occurs, we recommend an E-collar be applied to prevent them from being able to reach the area, if you do not already have one. Pets should keep their e-collar on during the entire recovery period.
Monitor Your Pet's Pain Level
Our veterinarians employ a multi-modal pain management protocol—this means that different pain medications are administered before, during, and after surgery. If your pet appears to be in pain after getting home, please call our clinic at (573) 397-6443, so that our staff can assess whether or not your pet needs to be examined. We provide free rechecks for any surgery concern during the days we are open (Tuesday-Friday).
Do not give your animal any pain medications, (whether over the counter or prescribed) without first consulting a veterinarian. These could pose a risk of complications and be harmful.
Keep Female In-Heat Away From Males
If your female dog or cat was in heat at the time of surgery, you must keep her away from un-neutered males for at least two weeks. While she is now unable to become pregnant, she will still attract intact males for a short period of time. If a male dog attempts to breed a female at this point, it can cause her serious, possibly life-threatening, damage.
Watch For Complications
Spaying and neutering are both very safe surgeries; however, as with all surgery, complications can occur. Minimal redness and swelling should resolve within several days, but if they persist longer, please contact us.
You should also contact us immediately if you notice any of the following:
Discharge or bleeding from the incision
The Spay Neuter Project will do a free recheck examination regarding any surgery concerns on the days we are open. Our veterinary staff will address at minimal cost, any post-operative complications resulting directly from the surgery, if the above post-operative instructions have been followed in full. We do charge for medications but do not charge for our veterinary examination. Your regular veterinarian must address illnesses or injuries that are not a direct result of surgery. Please call for an appointment as soon as you see cause for concern. We cannot be held responsible for complications resulting from failure to follow post-operative instructions, or from contagious diseases for which the animal was not previously properly vaccinated.
If you have any questions or concerns directly related to the surgery during the recovery period, please call us at (573) 397-6443.
For after-hours emergencies, we recommend first contacting your regular full-service veterinarian. Or contact Horton’s Discovery 24/7 Animal Hospital located at 3609 Endeavor Avenue, Columbia, MO 65201. Their phone number is 573-777-3609.