A woman sits with her cat who just had surgery.

Before being categorized as “adoptable,” animal shelters surgically sterilize pets. But, many cats and dogs are brought home from other sources before they are spayed or neutered. This places the responsibility on pet owners to schedule and commit to the procedure, and provide gentle care in the days and weeks that follow. Supporting a pet after surgery can be very challenging, but it’s much easier when you’re prepared.

Procedural Details

Spaying and neutering prevents pregnancies in pets. Spaying involves the surgical removal of a female pet’s ovaries (and sometimes the uterus), while neutering is the surgical removal of the testicles in male pets. There are numerous health benefits to spaying and neutering, including reducing uterine infections, breast tumors, testicular cancer, and some prostate problems. The procedure can also change behavioral problems

Nice and Easy

Despite the nature of this fairly straightforward procedure, post-operative care is essential to encourage recovery without incident. Your pet will experience pain, and their recovery can be complicated by bleeding, infection, and other issues if not properly addressed.

Know the Score

Anesthesia makes pets feel pretty groggy for some time afterward. They may simply be tired and will drift in and out of sleep for the first day or two. That being said, however, too much sleep or a lack of responsiveness is highly concerning. Watch your pet closely and call us for immediate help.

A Pill Schedule

To promote healing and limit pain, your pet may need anti-inflammatories or antibiotic medications throughout the day. It is critical to follow medication guidelines closely. Never give your pet medicine intended for human consumption.

An Eye On Appetite

Caring for your pet after surgery can be confusing because they may not have an appetite like before. Don’t worry, once the anesthesia wears off they’ll be back to their usual selves. In the meantime, offer some bland, neutral food like low-sodium broth, white rice, or white meat chicken. Always have fresh water on hand and encourage them to drink. Let us know if they continue to show disinterest in food/drink after the third day. 

The Surgical Site

Caring for your pet after surgery must involve supervision of the surgical site. Limiting their movements for 10-14 days is essential to prevent any post-surgical issues. Do not allow them to jump, run, or roughhouse. Watch the site for any signs of bleeding or infection, and call us for help. 

No one likes the Elizabethan collar, but it prevents your pet from licking, scratching, or chewing at the surgical site. Until the site can handle your pet’s attention, it must be off-limits via an e-collar. Keep your pet crated or penned, and do not allow them to go outside unattended. 

Bathing or playing in water during a two-week recovery is a no-no. Their stitches or staples must be removed or dissolved beforehand. 

Your Pet After Surgery

By the time they are cleared by your veterinarian, your pet will be happy to get back to life as they knew it. Remember, watch for signs of uncharacteristic behavior, and always let the Pet Experts know your questions or concerns. Elmhurst Animal Care Center is always here for you.