Post-Operative Care of a Spayed Bitch

We know that many owners may have concerns taking their pet home after an anaesthetic or surgical procedure. Please remember that you do not have to feel that you are on your own. Our trained staff are there to offer all the advice and support you may need.

Spaying (neutering) a bitch involves removing both ovaries and the entire reproductive tract down to the level of the cervix. The operation is generally carried out in young bitches at around six months old (before their first season), or in older bitches around three months after their last season.

The main reason why this procedure is carried out is to prevent any chances of unwanted pregnancies. However, there are also other advantages. Your bitch will no longer come in to season, suffer from false pregnancies or be at risk of womb infections. Depending on her age, she will have a much-reduced risk of getting mammary tumours in later life.

Spaying is a major procedure and is carried out under a full general anaesthetic. After a pre-med injection that includes a calming agent and pain relief, the anaesthetic is introduced via a catheter in a foreleg vein. Some hair will have been clipped over this vein.

After the operation the skin along the midline of the abdomen is sutured (stitched). These sutures are usually dissolvable ones buried under the skin (and so cannot be seen). Sometimes we will use nylon sutures that need to be removed approximately 10 days after the procedure.

It is important that your pet does not lick its operation site – it actually slows down healing. Collars are available from Reception that can be used to prevent interference with wounds. Please do not bathe wounds unless instructed to do so by our staff. Some surgeons cover the wound with a protective dressing. If this is present it will need to be gently removed 2-3 days after the operation – we can do this at the post-operative check.

When you come to collect your pet, the nurse will advise you of the post-operative care required and will make an appointment for a vet to recheck your pet in 2-4 days. There will be some pain relief medication for you to give your pet so she remains comfortable in the post-operative period.

Due to the anaesthetic, your pet may be sleepy and a bit unsteady for the next 12-24 hours. During this time she should be allowed to rest quietly in a warm (not too hot), comfortable, draught-free place. Offer a light meal but do not worry if she does not feel like eating when she gets home – normal appetite should return within 24-48 hours. Make sure fresh clean water is available at all times. (It is better to offer food and water little and often, rather than a large amount at one sitting).

Gentle lead exercise only should be undertaken for the next 10 days. Keep to clean areas and do not let her abdomen get wet or muddy.

If your pet has not eaten within 48 hours of her operation, she is listless or unsteady, or you have any other concerns about the wound or her well-being please telephone us for advice.