What to Expect After Neutering a Dog
Dog owners often have questions about dog neutering and what to expect after neutering their dog. First, let’s define the words “neuter” and “spay.” Neuter refers to the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term neuter is often used incorrectly in reference to male animals, when the term applies to both males and females. The correct term for males is “castration,” while the correct term used for females is “spay” or “spaying.”
For the purpose of this article, we will refer to neutering in regards to the male dog. For details about how to prepare for neutering and what happens the day of neutering, read What Happens When You Neuter a Dog? If you have a female dog, learn more by reading What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed.
For those of you that are still planning to neuter your dog, read How Much Does Dog Spaying or Dog Neutering Cost? to better understand the costs, and why they might vary.
The risks associated with castration in a healthy young dog are very low. While there are no published statistics, it is estimated that the risk of death is probably less than 1 in 500. The major risks are those of general anesthesia, bleeding, post-operative infection, and wound breakdown over the incision. Overall, the complication rate is very low, but serious complications can result in death or the need for additional surgery.
How Dogs Recover After Being Neutered
Most dogs are released within a day of surgery. After being neutered, your dog may feel tired or groggy. They may want to sleep more for the first day or two. Some dogs may feel nauseated and not eat full meals or even vomit. Generally, young dogs begin to act normally within 24 to 48 hours.
Additional recommendations for post-surgical care include:
- Post-operative medication should be given to relieve pain, which is judged in most cases to be mild to moderate.
- Keep your dog quiet for approximately two weeks after they return home from the hospital to allow them to heal. Some dogs may be prescribed sedative medications to help keep them calm.
- Two commonly prescribed medications include Acepromazine and Trazodone.
- Do not allow your dog to be excessively active and prevent them from roughhousing.
- Skin sutures, if present, will be removed in 10 to 14 days. Most often the sutures are absorbable. Many veterinarians will want to check the incision one-week after surgery to ensure that it is healing normally.
- If the castration was performed for reasons other than to prevent reproduction, further treatment and/or monitoring may be necessary.
- You should inspect the incision line daily for signs of redness, discharge, swelling, or pain.
- Do not allow your dog to lick or chew at the incision. If your pet licks the incision line, prevent them from doing so by putting them in an e-collar.
Other Things to Expect After Neutering a Dog
You may notice that your dog is calmer and more relaxed. Neutered dogs no longer have the intense drive to mate, roam, and seek out females. This change is not immediate as it may take weeks after castration for the hormones to gradually dissipate from their system. Other changes you can expect after neutering is a desire to stay closer to home, less urine marking, less fighting, a calmer demeanor, and added affection. Some pets may gain weight after neutering and as they get older. Cutting back on food intake or increasing your pet’s activity will help reduce weight gain.
What to Plan for and What Can Go Wrong After Neutering
The best way to determine if something is wrong is to monitor your dog’s incision. If you notice any redness, swelling, or discharge from the incision, you should call your veterinarian immediately.
If your dog is lethargic, won’t eat, has vomited more than once, had diarrhea, or you have any other concerns, please call your veterinarian.
How Pet Insurance Can Help
Clients often ask for suggestions to help with dog neuter costs. There are low-cost neuter clinics available in most areas. Learn more about the pros and cons by reading this article: Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Your Local Vet.
If you haven’t scheduled the procedure yet, there are pet insurance policies that will help pay for “wellness,” costs which include the neuter procedure. If your dog already had the neuter procedure, pet insurance can help you pay for other wellness costs such as vaccinations, deworming, dental cleanings, and parasite prevention. In addition to wellness care coverage, the main benefit to pet insurance is the potential to get reimbursed for up to 90% of unexpected veterinary bills.