How Long Does It Take a Dog to Recover From Neutering?
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Neutering or spaying a dog is a surgical procedure in which the reproductive organs are removed: In female dogs, the ovaries, and uterus are removed; in males, the testicles are removed. This procedure is becoming more common as the importance of neutering a dog and its benefits become better known among pet owners. However, there are still some doubts, especially regarding the recovery phase. To ensure a fast recovery, we need to follow a series of care measures and pay attention to certain symptoms and signs.
In the following AnimalWised article, you will learn how long it takes for a dog to recover from neutering and get some general advice on care.
Benefits of neutering or spaying dogs
Canine spaying is a surgical procedure in which all or part of a female dog's reproductive organs are removed. There are two types of canine sterilization procedures, ovariectomy and ovariohysterectomy. In an ovariectomy, only the ovaries are removed. In an ovariohysterectomy, both the uterus and ovaries are removed.
Neutering, on the other hand, is a simple surgical procedure that sterilizes a male dog so that he is no longer able to produce puppies. The surgery is even easier than neutering. A veterinarian anesthetizes the dog, makes an incision in front of the scrotum, cuts through the testicular pedicles, and then removes the testicles through the incision.
Neutering and spaying in dogs have certain benefits on both an organic and behavioral level, as they affect behaviors related to reproduction or hormone-dependent processes. Let us take a look at some of these benefits:
- It prevents tumors and disease: Neutering prevents uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of bitches. In males, it prevents testicular cancer.
- It improves the character of the dog: If sterilization is performed before the dog begins its sexual maturation, this process is interrupted. Therefore, the males do not develop this dominant and territorial character and are less aggressive towards other males and more gentle towards people.
- Stops heat in female dogs: spaying a female dog interrupts her heat cycle, which can last twenty-one days twice a year. Bitches in heat usually howl incessantly, exhibit nervous behavior, and attract unwanted male dogs.
Finally, sterilization prevents unnecessary reproduction and reduces the number of unwanted animals.
Also, you may be interested in this other article discussing the increased lifespan of neutered dogs.
How long does it take for a dog to recover after neutering or spaying?
The development and innovation in surgery has made sterilization a quick recovery surgery for our pets. Normally, full recovery takes between 7 and 10 days. We must keep in mind that the surgery usually takes place in the morning, so in the afternoon we will have our dog or cat back at home with us. The stitches, on the other hand, are typically removed after a week if there are no complications.
As each pet and surgery are different, so is their recovery. Therefore, it is advisable to follow the surgeon's specific guidelines when it comes to your dog's postoperative care. However, there are some general guidelines to follow when caring for a neutered dog. In the following section, we explain some of them.
How to care for a dog after neutering or spaying?
Most dogs recover relatively quickly from neutering. However, as with any procedure, it is important to give our dogs the best care possible to ensure a speedy recovery. Below are some things to keep in mind:
- Keep the dog calm and avoid sudden movements or jumps that could open the wound.
- As a result of anesthesia, we will notice that our pet is a little dazed and tired. We need to help the dog with the obstacles they may encounter on the way home, such as: going down the stairs, getting out of the car, etc.
- Pay close attention to complications such as wound infection, wound dehiscence with damage to sutures, hematoma, etc.
- It is important not to let your dog lick or chew on the wound to prevent the sutures from coming loose. Also, the wound could become infected. To prevent this, we can use an Elizabethan collar or cotton T-shirts.
- Provide the dog with a place where they are comfortable, calm, and warm, because the anesthesia lowers body temperature.
- Make sure your dog always has water available when they need it, they might be a bit thirstier than usual.
- Give your dog the medication prescribed by your veterinarian to prevent pain and reduce the risk of infection.
- Keep the wound clean at all times, always under aseptic conditions.
- As for the food, offer it to the dog a few hours after they arrive home. Do not worry if the dog is not hungry. Many newly sterilized animals will eat the next day when they are more alert and the effects of the anesthesia have passed.
- If the wound seems to be infected, it opens or the dog is very sore, contact the veterinary.
You may be interested in this other article, where we talk in more detail about what to do when there is bleeding after castration.
How to take care of the wound after neutering or spaying
One of the factors we must consider when caring for the dog after this type of surgery is the condition of the wound. The first thing we have to do is to make sure that the wound is clean. By doing this, we can prevent complications, such as infection, which can be very dangerous.
To keep the wound clean, you must prevent the dog from licking or biting the wound. Dogs tend to lick their wounds as if their saliva had healing properties. However, this is far from being the case. They lick the wound because it itches, and they have no other way to relieve themselves.
We know that saliva contains various chemical substances that can reduce the risk of infection. It also contains certain immunological properties, antimicrobial and antifungal proteins. However, not everything we find in saliva is good. We must remember that saliva also contains numerous bacteria that can easily contaminate a wound.
Currently, there are several products on the market that can help us stop the dog from licking the wound. Among them are:
- Elizabethan collar: this is a cone-shaped collar that reaches our dog's nose, so that prevents them from coming into contact with any part of their body. This is not a comfortable device for our pet, and we will see that it can be very uncomfortable, but it is an effective way to prevent its condition from getting worse.
- Disposable bandages: these are breathable bandages that allow air to flow in and out so the wound does not get wet, and the dog does not suffer. They are also adjustable and can be tightened or loosened depending on the dog's comfort level.
- Recovery suits or postoperative garments: if you are looking for safer alternatives to collars and full-body bandages, you can try recovery suits that cover your dog's entire body. Recovery suits are soft, durable and made of 100% cotton. Unlike collars, post-surgical garments have Velcro closures that allow them to be fastened behind the ears.
Following our discussion on how to prevent our dog from licking the wound, let's go over how to clean the wound. The wound should be cleaned daily for the first three days or until the wound is closed. Here are some general recommendations so that you can properly clean your dog's wound:
- Use saline solution and sterile gauze. Do not use absorbent cotton, as it releases fibers that could stick to the skin. Hydrogen peroxide can serve as a substitute for iodine, but only if approved by your veterinarian. It usually contains compounds that can cause skin rashes or itching.
- If your dog complains a lot about the pain, try to keep them calm and pet them. Some dogs may struggle while the wound is being cleaned. If this is the case, put a muzzle on them temporarily.
- You must clean the entire area to avoid infection and complications.
- To disinfect the wound, gently stroke from the cut surface outward to thoroughly disinfect the wound.
You may be interested in this other article, where we talk about what to do if your dog's wound does not heal.
Possible warning signs after neutering or spaying
It is normal for your pet to be somewhat apathetic after sterilization, not too fond of moving around, and also not hungry, especially in the first two days. While it is true that recovery after sterilization is quick and your pet's behavior improves significantly as the days go by, no surgery is free of potential complications.
You should take your dog to the veterinarian if any of the following situations occur:
- Immobility or listlessness
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive attempt to touch the sutures
- Appears to be in pain
- In male dogs, the scrotum looks swollen or inflamed
You may be interested in this other article, where we discuss the signs of pain in dogs.
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