After Surgery

Below you will find the next steps to take for keeping your pet healthy after surgery. Remember that pickup for all spay & neuter clients is the morning after the procedure at 7:30 am sharp. Late pickup is not permitted and you will be assessed a late fee if you do not pick up your pet, since we will need all available cages for the next day's patients.

1) Limit Activity

Some animals are active after surgery while others remain quiet for awhile. Just like people, recovery can be different for each animal. Either way, it’s very important that you limit your pet’s movement for about 7-10 days after surgery. Strenuous activity like running, jumping, or excessive playing could disrupt the healing process.

2) Maintain a Regular Diet

We will give your pet a small snack in the afternoon after surgery, and their appetite should return gradually within 24 hours. For the first 24 hours after surgery, your pet should only eat HALF of their normal daily caloric intake to avoid an upset stomach. Do not change your pet’s diet or brand of food at this time, and don’t give them junk food, table scraps, milk, or any people food for 7 days. Changes in their diet could hide post-surgery complications. Although patients’ reactions can vary, some symptoms that are not normal include: lethargy (lasting for more than 24 hours after surgery), diarrhea, and vomiting. If you see any of these, contact us immediately. We can then assess if your pet needs to be examined by a medical professional.

3) Keep the Incision Dry

Dogs & female cats have internal sutures that provide strength to the tissue as they heal. These will dissolve on their own after approximately four months; you do not need to bring them back for removal of stitches or sutures. Surgical glue has also been applied to the skin to seal the incision against bacterial penetration. Male cats will not have any sutures.

Do not bathe your pet for 10 days or apply any kind of topical ointment to the incision site. (Pro tip: give your dog a nice thorough bath the day before they come in for surgery!) Getting the surgical site wet could cause the surgical glue to dissolve too quickly. Pets must be kept indoors where they can stay clean, dry, and warm. Dogs should be leash-walked only to go potty outside for 10 days post-op.

4) Check the Incision Twice Daily

Females 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 when we send your pet home is what you should consider normal. There should be no drainage, with minimal redness or swelling. 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 they are insistent upon licking or chewing, we will recommend that you purchase an Elizabethan collar (E-collar, also known as a “cone”) for an additional $10 to prevent them from being able to reach the area.

5) Monitor Pain Levels

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 going home, please contact our Clinic at (812) 426-2563 extension 217 so that our staff can assess whether your pet needs to be examined. You must do this during office hours Monday through Friday from 10-2. We do not offer emergency services.

6) Keep Females Away from Males

If your female dog or cat was in heat at the time of surgery, you must keep her away from unneutered males for at least two weeks. While she is now unable to carry a pregnancy, she will still attract intact males for a period of time. If a male dog attempts to breed with a female at this point, it can cause her serious, possibly life-threatening damage.

7) Look Out for Complications

Spaying and neutering are both very safe surgeries. However, as with any 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:

  • Pale gums
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Discharge or bleeding from the incision
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Labored breathing

The Vanderburgh Humane Society will treat, at minimal cost, any post-operative complications resulting directly from the surgery if the post-operative instructions have been followed in full. Your regular veterinarian must address illnesses or injuries that are not a direct result of surgery. Please call us at (812) 426-2563 extension 216 Monday through Friday for a recheck appointment as soon as you see cause for concern. It’s better safe than sorry; if you’re unsure, please still call! We cannot be held responsible for complications resulting from failure to follow post-operative instructions, or from contagious diseases against which the animal was not previously properly vaccinated.


The Vanderburgh Humane Society Davidson Rausch Low-Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic adheres to the standards for the Spay/Neuter Medical Care Guidelines developed in 2008, and updated in 2016, by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ Veterinary Task Force to Advance Spay/Neuter.

Our Clinic is the proud 24th member of the ASPCA Clinic Mentorship, formerly known as the National Spay/Neuter Response Team (NSNRT).