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Posted on: January 30, 2019

Post-Operative Care Guidelines for Pets

Post-Operative Care Guidelines for Pets

Proper pet care is important after any surgery, including spaying and neutering. Follow these guidelines to avoid serious injury and maintain optimum health.

  1. Limit a pet’s activities for up to two weeks. This includes no running or jumping; restricting outdoor activities to use the bathroom; and no playing with children or other pets. Experts recommend a kennel or other confined space when leaving a pet unsupervised during this time.
  2. An Elizabethan collar (cone) is recommendefor use until the animal’s incision is completely healed. The collar is necessary to prevent the pet from licking and/or chewing at the incision.
  3. Follow the veterinarian’s instructions for take-home pain medication. Do not administer aspirin, Tylenol or other unprescribed pain relievers to a pet after surgery; these medications can be deadly. Dogs and cats 6 months and older usually are prescribed pills that can be hidden in food. Cats less than 6 months old usually are prescribed a liquid medication, which may be predosed and in syringes.
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     Generally, anesthesia will upset a pet’s stomach. Offer pet food and water in small portions, following the vet’s instructions. Animals less than 6 pounds may need food right away to balance sugar levels. Be aware that the anesthesia may cause nausea and vomiting. If the pet vomits after eating or drinking, pick up the food and water and offer small amounts a few hours after vomiting has subsided. Pets regularly can resume normal eating and drinking the day after surgery.
  5. Anesthesia may wear off slowly. A pet may appear drugged for the remainder of the day, after surgery but will become progressively more active and alert with time. Pets may growl, claw at invisible objects and act strangely for up to 24 hours. Cats especially become aggressive as anesthesia wears off. Pets do best in quiet, darkened rooms, such as an extra bathroom (with the toilet lid down) or an unused laundry room. However, it is necessary that the pet be monitored during this recovery process.
  6. Dogs that are ambulatory should be walked to encourage urination and defecation.
  7. Do not allow a pet to get wet or have a bath until the incision has healed. If bathing is required, consult a veterinarian and minimize the amount of water at the surgical site.
  8. Monitor the surgical site daily for signs of bleeding or infection, such as weeping or oozing wounds, puffiness, bubble-like masses under the skin, open incision, etc. For the first five days, the main concern is to restrict the pet’s licking of the incision. Licking can damage the incision itself. Please contact a veterinarian or emergency animal hospital immediately if you notice any of these issues.
  9. Male dogs may swell after being neutered; sometimes this swelling may even be severe. It may take time – sometimes up to a month – and restricted activity to resolve this post-surgery swelling. If swelling occurs, contact the veterinarian, who may prescribe Carprofen, a pain and anti-inflammatory medication, or antibiotics.
  10. If the animal has buried sutures, it should not need to return to the veterinarian or animal hospital for suture removal. All sutures used will dissolve over time. Male cats do not require sutures during neuter surgery.
  11. If a female animal is spayed during the estrus cycle, she is still attractive to males for several days following surgery and is still capable of mating. Although no possibility of pregnancy exists, the pet must be kept away from all male animals for up to two weeks.
  12. Male animals are still capable of breeding for 90 days (or occasionally even longer) after being neutered. 
  13. If the pet experiences a life-threatening emergency, visit a full-service veterinarian or local emergency clinic for care.

 (Source: Texas Coalition for Animal Protection (TCAP))

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