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How to Care for Dogs After They Are Neutered

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.



Post-Surgery Care

If your dog's neutering surgery went smoothly with no complications and had an uneventful awakening, the veterinary staff will call you to pick your pet up. The phone call usually arrives after the vet staff has assessed the dog and decided he is ready to go home. Usually, a dog that appears awake and is able to stand up is one that is ready to leave the hospital. Dogs that still appear to be groggy and are unaware of their surroundings, generally, are given a little more time to recover from the anesthesia.

Once at the veterinarian clinic, remember to bring a leash and collar. You will be given some post-surgical instructions either verbally or on a form. When given verbally, many owners will forget all about them or they may even be distracted at the moment and not pay much attention to them. Generally, post surgical instructions consist of the following:

No Food or Water for a Couple of Hours

This is to prevent an upset stomach since this is a high possibility in dogs that just underwent surgery. Some dogs get very excited upon being home again and they may gulp up their food and vomit. Food and water, therefore, is generally not recommended after a few hours.


Dogs that just underwent a neuter surgery are most of the time sent home the same day so it is normal for them to be groggy, sleepy, uncoordinated, and sometimes irritable from the pain upon coming home. To prevent the dog from falling or hurting himself, the dog should be kept in a crate or small room and carefully monitored as he recovers from the anesthesia.

Pain Meds

Often, dogs are sent home with pain medications in case they appear to be in pain. Such pain medications should be given as directed and the dog should be monitored for side effects.

Limited Exercise

The neutered dog should be kept crated or in small room for the first few days. No running, jumping, or going up and down stairs should be permitted. The dog should only be allowed to get up from potty breaks and trips to the food bowl and water bowl. This may be tough for dogs that are very hyperactive, but it is in the dog's best interest. A crate will be a great way to confine the dog and interactive toys such as Kongs will keep the dog occupied.


Because dogs tend to lick when they are hurting, it will be natural for the dog to want to lick the incision. For this reason, many times dogs are sent home with a ''lampshade collar'' better known as ''Elizabethan collar'' which will be fit by the vet. This collar will come hand when dogs try to aggravate the incision area. It is not unheard of dogs that have ripped out their stitches, requiring another surgery to place them back.

Careful Monitoring

The incision area should be carefully observed at least twice a day. Owners should watch for signs of infection such as swelling, reddening, bleeding, and oozing fluids. Other signs of trouble may be pale gums, depression, difficulty urinating, labored breathing and episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. Any of these should be reported to the vet promptly.

Lack of Bowel Movements

It is possible dogs may not have any bowel movements right away. This is understandable since the dog was on an empty stomach from the night before surgery (no food, no stools to produce) and may be a bit groggy. Bowel movements usually will resume within a day or two. Should the dog not go for more than a couple of days and appear uncomfortable consult with your vet.

Generally, dogs that were neutered and had an undescended testicle (cyptorchidism) have undergone a more extensive (and expensive!) surgery, therefore recovery times may bit a bit longer.

There are various things dog owners can do at home to shorten recovery times and grant healing. Monitoring and careful observation are keys to an uneventful recovery. Anything abnormal should be reported to the vet promptly.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: Our puppy seems to be in pain four days after neutering. He was quite active the day after. Will he be okay, or do we need to do something?

Answer: It's always best to consult with the vet if something doesn't seem right. Your vet should have sent your dog home with pain medications, perhaps these were not provided to you. If you give your vet a call, they may provide them for your dog. However, with the holidays this can be challenging. There is also a chance that the pain may not be directly related to the surgery if he was active, and perhaps he injured himself.

© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli


Multiman on February 04, 2011:

Good advice, I have referenced your page.