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March 12, 2024

Dog Spay Recovery: What to Expect After Your Dog's Spay Surgery

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What to Expect During Your Dog's Recovery from Spay Surgery

Undergoing spay surgery is an important part of responsible pet ownership, especially for female dogs not intended for breeding purposes. As a loving dog owner, you want to make sure your furry companion has the proper care and recovery period after her spay procedure. Knowing what to expect during a dog spay recovery process will help ease worries and ensure your dog recovers smoothly after her surgery.

What is a Spay Surgery?

A spay surgery, also known as an ovariohysterectomy, is a procedure performed on female dogs to remove their reproductive organs. The veterinarian surgically removes both ovaries and the uterus during the operation1.

The main purpose of spaying a female dog is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. However, spaying offers other health benefits too. It eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer later in life and reduces the chances of breast cancer2. Additionally, dogs who are spayed won't go into heat cycles anymore.

Preparing for Surgery

Before your dog's spay surgery, there are some important steps to take to ensure proper preparation. Here's what to expect in the days and hours leading up to the procedure:

  • Instructions from your vet - Your veterinarian will provide pre-surgery instructions to follow at home. This may include restricting food and water intake, administering medication, and bringing your dog in for a pre-op physical exam.

  • Fasting - Most vets will instruct you to withhold all food from your dog after a certain time (often midnight) before surgery. Fasting helps prevent complications from vomiting under anesthesia. Stick to the fasting period set by your vet.

  • Drop-off appointment - You will need to bring your dog to the vet clinic on the morning of the surgery and check them in. Often drop-offs happen first thing in the morning. You'll pick up your dog later that day once they have recovered from anesthesia.

Don't hesitate to ask your vet plenty of questions during this preparatory phase. The steps taken ahead of a spay surgery are important for your dog's health and wellbeing.
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Keep in mind that your dog will need close monitoring in the hours or days after surgery. Make sure you have time in your schedule to watch your dog during their recovery. Many pet owners schedule their pet's surgery near the weekend or a long holiday.

In the days before your dog's surgery, it's a good idea to do some crate training. Your pet won’t be allowed to do activities of any kind after surgery. Crate training will help you look after your pet by getting them used to the crate when you're not around.

Immediately After Surgery

Your dog will likely stay at the hospital a few hours to be monitored as they recover from anesthesia3.

Some things to expect immediately after surgery:

  • Your dog will likely still be drowsy and disoriented from the anesthesia medication. This may last for a few hours.

  • Your dog may shiver or shake as she comes out of anesthesia4. The vet may provide blankets and a heating pad for comfort.

  • Pain medication will be administered. Your vet may give you a prescription for pain management at home5.

  • You may notice some discharge/bleeding from the incision site. A small amount is normal.

The First 24 Hours

In the first 24 hours after surgery, your dog will likely be quite groggy and sleepy from the anesthesia. Be sure to keep them in a comfortable, confined area where they can rest quietly without being disturbed. Limit their activity to allow the incision site to begin healing.

Take them outside on a leash for bathroom breaks, but otherwise keep activity to a minimum. Watch for problems urinating, as this can be a sign of complications.
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Check the incision site regularly and look for any redness, swelling or discharge. Some mild swelling and redness is normal. Do not let your dog lick or scratch at the incision site, as this can cause infection. Use an Elizabethan collar if necessary to prevent licking.

Follow your vet’s feeding instructions and notify them right away if you notice any changes in appetite. Although some dogs tend to skip meals after the surgery, they should start eating the day after.

Keeping your dog comfortable, limiting activity and monitoring the incision site should be your main priorities in the first 24 hours following a spay surgery. Check in frequently with your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Recovery Weeks 1-2

The first 2 weeks after your dog's spay surgery are critical for proper healing. During this time, you'll need to restrict your dog's activity to prevent complications.

What to expect in the first 2 weeks post-op:

  • Your dog should avoid strenuous exercise like running and jumping. Only short, gentle leash walks are recommended. This allows the internal incision site to heal.

  • Watch for signs of complications like excessive swelling, discharge, redness around the incision site, loss of appetite, lethargy or vomiting. Contact your vet if you notice any of these.

  • Avoid giving baths during the first 14 days until the stitches have fully dissolved and the incision has closed4.

  • Your dog may still have sutures or staples that need to be removed 10-14 days after surgery6. Your vet will determine the optimal time for this.

  • Do not allow your dog to lick or mess with the incision site, as this can cause infections. An e-collar may be needed 24/7 during this time.

Proper rest and restricting activity during the first couple weeks allows your dog to heal properly after being spayed. Follow up appointments and monitoring the incision site closely helps prevent potential complications. Stay diligent with care to aid your dog's recovery.

Small breed dog in bed

Recovery Weeks 3-4

By weeks 3-4 after the spay surgery, your dog should start getting back to normal but still needs to be monitored and restricted from too much activity. Her incision site will likely be completely healed on the outside, but the internal healing process continues. Follow your vet’s advice before resuming regular activity.

Continue checking the surgery site regularly to ensure no abnormalities develop over time. Contact your vet if you notice any unusual swelling, discharge, or changes to the skin around the incision area.
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Let your vet know if you have any questions or concerns during your dog's long-term recovery after spay surgery. While effects may linger for months, for most dogs the dog spay recovery time is within 10 to 14 days post-op.


Caring for a dog after spay surgery requires planning and diligence. Prior preparation and understanding the recovery timeline prepares you to properly tend to your dog. With adequate rest, confinement, supervision, and medical treatment, your dog can progress through recovery to return to her normal, healthy self.

  1. "Spaying in Dogs." VCA Animal Hospitals, accessed February 7, 2024.

  2. "Spay/Neuter Your Pet." Brown University, accessed February 7, 2024.

  3. "How Long Does Spaying a Dog Take?" Tracy Veterinary Clinic, accessed February 7, 2024.

  4. "Post Surgery Instructions." Seattle Animal Shelter Spay and Neuter Clinic, accessed February 7, 2024.

  5. "Surgical Pain in Dogs: What You Need to Know." VCA Hospitals, accessed February 7, 2024.

  6. "Care of Surgical Incisions in Dogs." VCA Animal Hospitals, accessed February 7, 2024.


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Go! Solutions Team

A Team of Dedicated Pet Parents + Nutrition Experts

We all want our cats and dogs to lead happy, healthy lives. We’re here to help you, with easy-to-understand information about your pet's daily care and feeding.