Caring For Your Animals AFTER Surgery

GREAT!  You’ve brought your cat(s) or dog(s) in for a spay or neuter surgery – fantastic accomplishment.  But your work isn’t over yet.

It is IMPORTANT for you to follow through with the proper care for cat(s) or dog(s) after you bring them home.  It takes time for cats and dogs to recuperate from the anesthesia and there is always the possibility of infection.

The First Night

  •  Keep animals warm after surgery
    Animals should be kept in a warm, draft free, sheltered area (75-80) overnight.  The drugs used for anesthesia disrupt the body’s ability to maintain normal body temperature.  This means that animals left out in even moderately cold conditions may freeze to death.  Animals should not be left in extremely hot conditions either (such as in direct sunlight on a hot day) as they can overheat as well.
  • Keep in a confined space
     Keep animals in a confined space, such as a carrier or small room until walking and moving normally.  Animals attempting to run or jump onto things may misjudge and injure themselves while recovering from anesthesia.

Be aware that while under the affects of anesthesia your animal may be angry or easily annoyed.  Mothers may not want to be around their kittens and siblings who normally play well with each other may want to be alone.  Be prepared for this and separate the animals for their protection if need be.  Anesthesia does not affect all animals this way but be aware that it might happen.  After three to five days your animal will go back to it’s normal behavior/personality.

  • Food and water
    Once awake enough to eat safely, a small amount of food (1/4 of usual amount) may be offered. If that stays down, a little more can be offered in an hour or two.  Do not let animals gorge.  A small amount of water can be offered as well or feed wet food.  Animals may not be hungry the night of surgery or may vomit.  This should correct itself by the morning.

NOTE:  If an animal is vomiting or not eating the day after surgery, this is not                         normal and you should contact the clinic or your local veterinarian.

The First Week After Surgery

  • No Licking or Chewing
    Do not allow your animal to lick or chew at the incision as they can chew their stitches out or cause an infection.  If necessary place a cone (e-collar) on animals to prevent licking.
  • Monitor Incision
    Check the incision twice daily. A small amount of swelling is normal.  Discharge, large swelling, or the incision opening is NOT normal and you should contact the clinic or your local veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.
  • Tattoo
    Dogs and pet cats receive a small green tattoo on their belly to permanently identify them as spayed or neutered.  The ink is non-toxic but if the animal licks it, it may color their tongue green.  If you see a green tongue, place a cone on the pet to prevent infection from licking the incision.
  • No Bathing or Swimming
    For a full 2 weeks after surgery.
  • Activity Level
    Should be leash walked for the first 5 days after surgery.  Do not let dogs run loose.

   Pet Cats
   Should be kept inside for the first week after surgery.

   Feral Cats
   Should generally be kept overnight and released the next morning.  If the cat is calm
and easily handled it should be kept inside as a pet cat.  However, stress impairs
recovery so cats that are not calm and easily handled by people should be released
the morning after surgery.  Placing a sheet or towel over the trap or carrier that a feral
animal is in will usually help to calm the animal.

Problems or Concerns

If there are any problems or concerns related to surgery please contact the clinic right away (509-497-1133) or your local veterinarian.  Prevent Homeless Pets’ veterinarian is available during limited hours to help with problems stemming from surgery at minimal cost.  For problems not related to surgery or if assistance is needed outside clinic hours owners should contact their local veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.

Booster Vaccines

  • Rabies – Booster in one year. Contact your local veterinarian to schedule a booster.
  • DA2PP or FVRCP – For puppies and kittens or adults who have not been previously vaccinated, a booster will be needed in 3 weeks. Contact your local veterinarian to schedule a booster.

Please follow through and provide the care and attention your animals will need to successfully recover from their surgeries.