How Long After a Male Dog Is Fixed Can He Have a Bath?

by Christina Stephens
    Surgery is the pits.

    Surgery is the pits.

    Jupiterimages/ Images

    Neutering surgery is likely to be the simplest surgery your dog will ever endure. Sudsing up your pup afterward, however, can be tricky. You must follow a timeline, and you must be gentle. If you know what to do, and when, bathing your dog after surgery doesn't have to stink.

    Veterinary Instructions

    Veterinarians recommend not allowing your dog to get wet or have a bath for seven to 10 days after neuter surgery or until his stitches are removed. It’s important to keep the incision free of any moisture; this includes water and saliva, in order to prevent infection. If your dog is older when he undergoes neutering surgery, your veterinarian will probably use traditional sutures or staples, easily visible on the outside of the skin. These sutures need to be kept dry as well as protected from scratching and snagging on things like carpet and twigs. If your dog is a puppy when he’s neutered, most likely your vet will use dissolvable stitches and surgical glue to close his tiny incision. The stitches will be underneath the skin. Though they’re essentially invisible, it’s important to keep them free of moisture to prevent infection just like regular stitches.

    Age Considerations

    The majority of canines are neutered at some point between 6 weeks and 1 year of age. For much of this time your puppy's immune system is underdeveloped. This makes him more susceptible to infection, especially after surgery. Since puppies have more difficulty regulating their body temperature than adults, bathe yours in warm water, and use plenty of towels and even a heating pad afterward, to keep your puppy comfortable and healthy. Contact your vet immediately if the incision shows signs of infection such as swelling, excess redness, yellow seepage or foul odor.

    Grooming Wipes

    Dogs get dirty; it's just a fact of life. Your pup doesn’t understand the ins and outs of post-operative care, so he may still want to step in mud or roll in a pile of dead leaves, if not a dead squirrel. Grooming wipes are a good water-free option if you need to give your pooch a wipe-down before the recommended seven- to 10-day waiting period lapses. Many varieties of canine cleansing wipes exist for pet lovers. Whatever kind you choose, take care to avoid tugging at the incision site.

    A Gentle Touch

    After seven to 10 days, your dog’s incision should be sufficiently healed enough to withstand a bit of stretching and tension. However, take extra caution when giving him his first bath after surgery. The area may still be tender or even a little itchy. Get his coat nice and wet, then begin massaging the shampoo in as you would normally. Use a hypoallergenic shampoo. Hypoallergenic shampoos contain soothing ingredients like oatmeal and herbal extracts that are beneficial for sensitive, itchy skin. Look for shampoos with labels that include gentle and soap-free. When you get to his incision site, instead of vigorously massaging, gently rub the shampoo in with one or two fingers taking care not to tug or pull on the skin. Make sure to thoroughly dry the area (and the rest of your buddy of course) afterwards.

    Cleaning the Incision

    Your dog's incision site may get dirty or develop light discharge before it's time for a bath. Light, clear discharge is normal. Clean it by dabbing it with a warm, moistened washcloth; do not rub or wipe. Afterward, if your veterinarian advises, you may lightly apply an antiseptic.

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    About the Author

    Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.

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