Humane Alliance

350,000 dogs and cats sterilized since 1994 at our clinic

After Surgery

Your pet has had major surgery and will need to be well cared-for afterwards to help prevent complications. Following the instructions below will help ensure your pet has a successful recovery.

Your pet has had major surgery and will need to be well cared-for afterwards to help prevent complications. Following the instructions below will help ensure your pet has a successful recovery.

1. Limit Activity

Some animals are active after surgery, while others remain quiet for a while. Either way, it is very important that you limit your pet's movements during the 7–10 day recovery period, as strenuous activity, such as running, jumping, or playing, could disrupt the healing process.

2. Keep Them to a Regular Diet

Your pet has had a small snack on the night of surgery, and their appetite should return gradually within 24 hours. Do not change your pet's diet at this time, and do not give them junk food, table scraps, milk, or any other "people food" for seven days. Changes in their diet could hide post-surgical complications. Although patients' reactions to surgery can vary, lethargy (lasting for more than 24 hours after surgery), diarrhea, or vomiting are NOT normal, and you should contact us immediately if these occur. We can then assess if your pet needs to be examined by a medical professional.

3. Keep Their Incision Dry

Dogs and female cats have internal sutures that provide strength to the tissue as they heal; these will dissolve after approximately four months. Surgical glue has also been applied to the skin to seal the incision against bacterial penetration. Male cats do not have any sutures, and, unless you are told otherwise, your pet does not have external sutures. If you are told that your pet has skin sutures or skin staples, they will need to return in 7–10 days to have those removed.

Do not bathe your pet during the recovery period, or apply topical ointment to the incision site—the surgical glue on the incision will dissolve too quickly if it becomes wet. Pets must be kept indoors where they can stay clean, dry, and warm, although dogs can be walked on a leash to go to the toilet.

4. Check Their Incision Twice Daily

Female dogs and cats have a mid-line incision in their abdomen. Male dogs have an incision just above the scrotum, and male cats have two incisions, one on each side of the scrotum. Check these incision sites at least twice daily. What you see when we discharge your pet is what we consider normal. There should be no drainage, and redness and swelling should be minimal. Male cats may appear as if they still have testicles; this is normal, and the swelling should subside gradually through the recovery period.

Do not allow your pet to lick or chew at the incision. If this occurs, we recommend you purchase Bitter Apple or Bitter Orange spray to deter licking and chewing (place your finger over the incision and spray around the area – do not spray directly onto the incision—it will sting!). If this does not deter them from licking, an E-collar must be applied to prevent them from being able to reach the area. 

5. Monitor Their Pain Levels

Our veterinarians employ a multi-modal pain management protocol—this means that different pain medications are administered before, during, and after surgery. If your pet appears to be in pain after getting home, please call our clinic at (828) 252-2079, so that our staff can assess whether or not your pet needs to be examined.

6. Keep In-Heat Females Away From Males

If your female dog or cat was in heat at the time of surgery, you must keep her away from un-neutered males for at least two weeks. While she is now unable to become pregnant, she will still attract intact males for a short period of time. If a male dog attempts to breed a female at this point, it can cause her serious, possibly life-threatening, damage.

7. Look Out for Complications

Spaying and neutering are both very safe surgeries; however, as with all surgery, complications can occur. Minimal redness and swelling should resolve within several days, but if they persist longer, please contact us. You should also contact us immediately if you notice any of the following:

  • Pale gums
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Discharge or bleeding from the incision
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Labored breathing

Humane Alliance will treat at our clinic, at minimal cost, any post-operative complications resulting directly from the surgery, if the above post-operative instructions have been followed in full. Your regular veterinarian must address illnesses or injuries that are not a direct result of surgery. Please call for an appointment as soon as you see cause for concern. We cannot be held responsible for complications resulting from failure to follow post-operative instructions, or from contagious diseases for which the animal was not previously properly vaccinated.

8. Call if You Have Concerns

If you have any questions or concerns directly related to the surgery during the recovery period, please call us at (828) 252-2079.

If you have an emergency outside our business hours, contact your regular veterinarian or REACH emergency hospital at (828) 665-4399.