My dog is getting neutered, what should I expect?

Neutering your dog eliminates many health risks while also alleviating behavioral problems, such as dog-on-dog aggression, marking, mounting, and escaping the house. However, many dog owners are nervous for this procedure because they are unsure of what to expect. Listed here is everything you should know when your dog is getting neutered.

What to Expect when your Dog is Neutered

Healing Time

dog resting after surgery
Healing times vary from animal to animal, with younger dogs typically requiring less time to heal than older pets. How well you follow the veterinarian’s instructions also dictates how long it will take your pet to heal. In general, if your dog ignores the surgery site and does not have any complications or setbacks, he or she will require 14 days for the wounds to fully heal.

Wound Care

During the time that your dog’s incisions are healing, you should keep the wound from becoming wet. For small dogs, this can be especially difficult on wet days because their bellies often rub against the grass. However, bathing and wetness can introduce bacteria into the incision, leading to infection.

In addition, the wound must be checked twice per day to watch for signs of abnormal swelling, redness, discharge, or irritation. Frequent vigilance is necessary in order to spot issues that must be addressed by a veterinarian to avoid serious infection.

Cone vs. Cushion vs. T-shirt

cone of shame
Dogs are required to wear a cone (or other mobility limiting device) following a neuter surgery to keep them from licking the wounds and increasing the risk of infection or hindered healing. An Elizabethan collar is the most commonly prescribed item. However, for certain animals (particularly ones that handle the e-collar well), a cushion that resembles an airplane pillow can be used. This product reduces the frustration associated with knocking into walls and furniture, as well as knocking over household items. For dogs that simply do not tolerate a cone or cushion, a t-shirt can also be used. Place a short-sleeved t-shirt backwards on your dog (i.e. with hind legs through the sleeves) and knot the shirt around your dog’s waist in order to protect the surgical site. While your dog should have the cone / collar / t-shirt on at all times, it is okay to remove these items during short walks or whenever your dog has your complete attention.

Activity Restrictions

While your dog’s wounds are healing, activity should be significantly limited. Your dog should be on crate rest and under supervision at all times. While it can be very difficult to keep a young dog from being active, too much activity can cause serious complications. For instance, a female dog’s sutures could open, causing massive blood loss and her intestines to exit her body. For a male dog, too much movement can cause bleeding into the empty scrotal sack, resulting in discomfort or injury.

Additional Procedures

Finally, ask your veterinarian about any additional procedures that can be performed in order to take advantage of your dog’s anesthesia. For instance, if your dog is older, consider having his or her teeth cleaned. For puppies – particularly toy-sized breeds – it can be beneficial to have stubborn puppy teeth removed. For giant breeds, bloat-minimization surgery can also be performed during the neuter procedure.