If the time has come to spay your dog, you might be feeling a bit concerned. And that’s to be expected. After all, your beloved pet will be put under general anesthesia. But this is an extremely safe surgical procedure, and in the vast majority of cases, a dog comes through the spaying process just fine.
Here’s why it’s so important to spay your dog, and how to properly care for your companion once they return home.
Why Spaying is Necessary
The spaying process involves the removal of your dog’s reproductive organs. When owners make the decision to spay their dog, it’s one of the most responsible choices they can make. Unfortunately, there are millions of unwanted animals in shelters throughout the U.S. And it’s a tragic fact that many of them won’t be able to find new homes. Spaying is the key to reducing this problem.
But there are also health benefits associated with spaying. For example, a spayed dog is at a lower risk of suffering a dangerous infection of the uterus known as pyometra.1 She will also have less of a chance of developing cancer of the mammary glands.2
Preparing for the Spay Procedure
The spaying process involves removal of your dog’s reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. When the spay procedure is performed, your dog will no longer go into heat. Your vet will typically recommend that your pet not eat for about eight hours before the procedure, in order to reduce the risk of her becoming nauseous.3 Ask your vet whether or not it will be safe for your dog to drink in the hours leading up to her procedure.
You’ll also want to make sure your home is ready before you bring your dog back home after her surgery. She might want to be in a quiet area of the home to rest, away from children, or other pets. Make sure she has a clean, comfortable bed to sleep in, and place some puppy pads in the bed (and nearby) just in case she has an accident. Put her food and water bowls near the bed.
After Spay Care Tips
Your dog will likely seem “out of it” after spay surgery. This is to be expected, because she will still be feeling the effects of anesthesia. Watch her carefully when she walks around the house because she might not have her balance just yet.4
She will probably come home with an Elizabethan collar, or cone, so she can’t lick her stitches. But you’ll need to take other steps to make sure nothing happens to the area where the incisions were made during the spaying procedure. If the stitches tear, or if the area gets dirty, that could lead to an infection. Gently help her into the car when you bring her home from the vet’s office, but try not to pick her up. And don’t carry her when you’re back home, because that could damage the stitches.
You’ll want to make sure your dog stays as calm as possible for a week or two after surgery to protect the incision area.5
Different dogs handle anesthesia differently. Some are fairly close to normal once they come out of it, but others may need to sleep a great deal more than usual. Don’t be concerned if your pet wants to sleep a long time.
Also, be prepared to clean up some vomit around the home the first day after surgery. This is a normal side effect of the anesthesia, and not a sign of a health problem.6 It’s also normal for a dog not to want to eat or drink for a day or so after being spayed. If you’re concerned, check in with your veterinarian.
Signs of a Problem
A critical part of your dog’s care after spaying is to be alert for any potential health issues. For example, check her incisions regularly, and take her back to the vet if you notice any bleeding, swelling, redness, or oozing. These could be signs of an infection.7
Other issues to watch out for include an excessive amount of panting or crying and pale gums. Also, if she continues to be lethargic two or more days after the surgery, that could be an issue as well. Talk to your vet about how best to address the situation.8
One Final Note
Having your dog spayed is a good decision on your part. Not only will this help prevent potentially severe health problems, it will also help reduce overcrowding in the pet population. Taking some steps before and after the procedure will ensure your dog gets the best care possible as she recovers.
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