Havanese dog with cone after neutering.

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:

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.