Spaying your female dog eliminates risk of pregnancy as well as provides behavioral and health benefits. The Humane Society of the United States recommends spaying your dog prior to her first heat cycle. Most female dogs can be spayed as young as 2 months of age, though some small breeds should be a bit older before they can safely undergo anesthesia.
Rest and Inactivity
Performed under general anesthesia, spaying is a major abdominal surgery that generally takes a few days to recover from. Your vet will provide specific instructions for after-spay care, one which is to ensure your dog 's activity is limited. Your pup is likely to be groggy from the anesthesia; she may be on vet-prescribed pain medication. Keep her inside, safe, quiet and comfortable in her kennel or carrier, or arrange a soft bed on a low surface. If your pup tries to jump from a bed or couch, she could potentially open her incision site. Limit her mobility for at least the first 24 hours.
Limited Initial Food Intake
Your vet will likely recommend your dog fast for at least 12 hours before her surgery. Following her operation, she is unlikely to eat or drink much. Offer water and small amounts of food, but don't overdo it -- lingering anesthetic may cause your pup to be nauseous. Even though your pup isn’t ingesting much, she may still have to relieve herself, so provide attractant-treated pee pads in close proximity to her bed so she doesn’t have to walk far or go outside to use the bathroom.
Your pup will be sore after her surgery, and your vet may prescribe a pain medication to relieve discomfort. Follow your vet’s instructions on dosage and frequency to ensure your dog is comfortable and safe. Be gentle when you touch or lift your dog, and use caution when coming in contact with her incision site. Even mild-mannered, well-trained dogs can bite when they’re in pain. Keep young children and other pets away from your recently spayed dog.
Watch your dog’s incision site for signs of redness, swelling, bleeding or pus. Your vet may direct you to treat the site with hydrogen peroxide or a topical antibiotic agent, but don’t bathe your dog or apply anything else to the wound without your vet’s instruction. You pup may attempt to lick or bite the site, which can lead to infection or ripped stitches. If this happens, your vet may recommend an Elizabethan collar to prevent contact.
Causes for Concern
Your spayed dog should resume her normal eating and bathroom habits within a few days. If she begins to vomit, has diarrhea, runs a fever or seems excessively lethargic or unwilling to eat, contact your vet immediately. Don’t bathe your dog for two weeks following her surgery, and avoid energetic play or exercise until the incision site is fully healed.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.