After Surgery

Below you will find the next steps to take for keeping your pet healthy after surgery.

  • 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 during the 7-10 day period. Strenuous activity like running, jumping, or excessive playing could disrupt the healing process.

  • Maintain a Regular Diet

    Your pet had a small snack the night after surgery, and their appetite should return gradually within 24 hours. Do not change your pet’s diet or brand of food at this time, and don’t give them junk food, tables craps, milk, or any people food for seven 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 you pet needs to be examined by a medical professional.

  • 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 do not have any sutures.

    Do not bathe your pet for 10 days, or apply any kind of topical ointment to the incision site. This could cause the surgical glue to dissolve too quickly if it becomes wet. Pets must be kept indoors where they can stay clean, dry, and warm. Dogs can be leash-walked only to go potty outside.

  • 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 this occurs, we recommend you purchase Bitter Apple or Bitter Orange spray to deter licking and chewing. When applying, place your figure over the incision and spray around the area – do not spray directly onto the incision. It will sting! If this does not deter them from licking, we will recommend that you purchase an Elizabethan collar (E-collar, also known as a “cone”) to prevent them from being able to reach the area.

  • 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.

  • Keep In-Heat 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 become pregnant, 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.

  • 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 for an 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.

  • Disclaimer

    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 National Spay/Neuter Response Team (NSNRT).