Recovering from Surgery

Post-Operative Instructions

Please adhere to the following post-op instructions.

You can also view this informative video for tips on keeping your pet healthy following surgery:

Your pet has had major surgery. The surgery requires general anesthesia, which means the patient is completely asleep and unable to feel or move. In female dogs and cats, the uterus and ovaries are removed through a small incision in the abdominal wall. All pets receive a small tattoo near their incision site as permanent identification that they have been altered. In male dogs and cats, only the testicles (not the scrotum) are removed. Removal of the testicles prevents production of sperm, and the male dog or cat will no longer be able to father puppies or kittens.

Female dogs and cats have a midline incision in their abdomen. Male dogs have an incision just above the scrotum and male cats have two incisions: one in each side of the scrotum. Check the incision site at least twice daily. What you see the day of surgery is what we consider normal. There should be no drainage. Redness and swelling should be minimal. Male cats may appear as if they still have testicles. This is normal and the swelling should subside gradually through the recovery period. All animals receive pain medications before and after surgery.

If this occurs, an E-collar must be applied to prevent chewing or licking at the incision.

If your female dog or cat was in heat at the time of surgery, you must keep her away from intact males for at least two weeks. While she is unable to become pregnant, she may still attract intact males for a short period of time. If a male dog attempts to breed with a recently altered female, it can cause serious – possibly even life-threatening – damage to the female.

Unless you are told otherwise, your pet does not have external sutures. All sutures are absorbable on the inside of the body, and surgical glue has been applied to the skin at the incision. Do not clean or apply topical ointment to the incision site. If you are told that your pet has skin sutures or skin staples, you need to schedule an appointment for suture/staple removal in 10-14 days. Male cats do not have any sutures.

Some animals are active after surgery. It is very important that you limit your pet’s activity for the next 10-14 days. No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity during the recovery period. Pets must be kept indoors where they can stay clean, dry and warm. Do not bathe your pet during the recovery period. Dogs must be walked on a leash, and cats must be kept inside. Keep your pet quiet. Dogs and female cats have sutures that provide strength to the tissues while they heal. Any strenuous activity could disrupt this healing process. The healing process takes at least 10 days.

Your pet’s appetite should return gradually within 24 hours of surgery. Diarrhea, vomiting, and/or lethargy lasting more than 24 hours after surgery is not normal, and you should contact us immediately at (503) 480-7729. Do not change your pet’s diet at this time, and do not give junk food, table scraps, milk, or any other “people” food for a period of one week. This could mask post-surgical complications.

Spaying and neutering are considered safe surgeries, but there are risks associated with any surgery or anesthesia. Complications can occur. Minimal redness and swelling should resolve within several days. If it persists longer, please contact us. We may wish to schedule a recheck appointment for your pet at our clinic. Please 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

If you have any questions or concerns directly related to the surgery during the recovery period, please call this office at (503) 480-7729. If there is an emergency after our normal operating hours, contact your regular veterinarian or call Salem Veterinary Emergency Clinic at (503) 588-8082. If our vet noted a medical problem in your pet, such as an ear infection, at the time of examination, we recommend that you make an appointment with your regular veterinarian to address the problem as soon as possible.

Willamette Humane Society’s Spay and Neuter Clinic will treat at our clinic, during normal operating hours, any post-operative complications resulting directly from this surgery if the above post-operative instructions are followed in full. Your regular veterinarian must address illnesses or injuries that are not a direct result of this surgery. Please call for an appointment as soon as you see cause for concern. Willamette Humane Society cannot be held responsible for any complications resulting from failure to follow post-operative instructions or for any contagious diseases for which the animal was not previously vaccinated.