Strategies for Maintaining Peaceful Dog Behavior After Spay Surgery

Dogs are beloved and loyal companions who bring joy to millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, some dogs can exhibit behavior that can be challenging for owners to manage. If a dog is exhibiting aggressive or destructive behaviors, spray surgery may be an option to consider as a form of behavioral modification. .Having a dog can bring immense joy to one’s life. However, it is important to understand that a dog’s behavior is often determined by many factors, including the presence of diseases, age and even surgery. In particular, spray surgery can have a major impact on the behavior of dogs if they undergo the procedure at any point in their lives. This article will explore the ways in which dog behavior may be affected after they receive spay surgery treatment.

How to care for a dog after a spay:

It’s always nerve-wracking when your pet has an operation. Even routine surgeries such as having your pet neutered will give many owners butterflies. This is completely understandable, they are your babies after all!

You’ll be relieved to get your dog home afterwards, but, don’t forget, this is where the hard work starts for you. As routine as a bitch spay is, it still comes with certain risks and responsibilities. Your veterinarian will discuss the risks of surgery beforehand; however, it’s important to be aware that your dog will need some careful monitoring and TLC afterwards. 

Table of contents

  • What happens in dog spay?
  • What to expect after a dog spay?
  • What care do you need to provide after the spay?
  • Rest
  • Medication
  • Food
  • Wound care
  • No licking
  • When to call the vet

First things first, what happens in a dog spay?

A dog spray is where the female reproductive organs (the uterus and ovaries) are removed through an incision into the abdomen. The dog is first given some medication to get them to relax and provide pain relief, and then a general anesthetic is given. Under anesthetic, they are completely unconscious and relaxed. A tube is placed to control the airway and they are connected to oxygen, anesthetic gasses and monitoring equipment.

Some clinics can offer a less invasive procedure called a laparoscopic or keyhole spay. Here, a camera and fine instruments are used to remove the ovaries through two or three tiny incisions into the abdomen, again under a general anesthetic. The advantage of laparoscopic procedure is that the dogs tend to recover faster, the wounds are smaller and the operation itself can be quicker.

Depending on your clinic, your dog may have absorbable stitches in the skin that you can’t see, or perhaps stitches (or staples) that will need to be removed around 14 days after the surgery. 

What to expect after a bitch spay?

It’s completely normal for your dog to be quieter than normal when she returns home after her spay. She may cry or moan a little, and might just feel like sleeping. It’s important to let her rest, keeping her still will be essential for an uneventful recovery.

It often takes a day or two for pets to feel like themselves again. It can also take a couple of days for them to pass feces. Many dogs aren’t so keen on eating on the same day, and may even experience some nausea or vomiting. Your vet will make you aware of any signs for concern in the days after the surgery and how to care for her incision. If you are worried about your dog, don’t hesitate to call your vets or out of hours service for advice. 

What care do you need to provide after the spay?

We know you’ll be prepared for all the extra cuddles and love your pet needs after her operation! There are a couple of other things you’ll need to do too. You might need to think about when you arrange it, so that you can organize to have someone with her as much as possible in the first few days. She will need a recovery period of around 14 days and during this time you’ll need to keep a few things in mind:


For around two weeks your dog will need to have restricted activity, this means just out to do her business and back inside to rest. If you know your dog is particularly active, consider getting a crate so she can’t be jumping up on the sofa or running up and down the stairs, etc. We need to keep her as still as possible so that the wound knits back together nicely.

Being overactive in the days after surgery is a common cause of seromas (liquid accumulation in the wound) and hernias (where the muscle doesn’t close properly because of excess movement). A hernia could mean another operation so it’s in everyone’s best interests to avoid it. 


Be prepared for your vet to provide some pain-killers for a few days. If you think you’re going to struggle to give them, then talk to your vet at her discharge appointment. You might need to get some paté or treats to hide the medication in.


These days we normally recommend that pets stay on the same food after surgery and don’t necessarily need a lighter diet. However, in the first few days your dog could have an upset tummy or not much of an appetite. So it’s a good idea to have a few things like chicken, rice and eggs on hand to make up some light meals if needed.

Wound care

You’ll need to have a look at the wound every day, in most cases you won’t need to clean it. If it has become particularly soiled then just a little clean around with some saline or cooled, boiled water should be enough (avoid pulling at the edges or wiping at the incision line though). Have a look and maybe a very gentle feel around without touching the incision, to make sure it doesn’t seem swollen or bulging. 

No licking

Your dog will likely have a buster collar on to prevent her from getting to the wound. It’s important not to take this off and to make sure that she can’t get it off either. The last thing you want is her licking at the wound, this can cause an infection or result in it opening up. As annoying as buster collars are (believe me, we know!), we only use them when necessary and for your pet’s own good. 

When to call the vet 

You’ll have an appointment or two arranged for check-ups after your dog’s surgery, but there are a few things to look out for which might mean she should be looked at sooner. We would always want to know if your dog shows any of the following: 

  • Being reluctant to move or is difficult to wake up
  • Difficulty passing urine or straining a lot after the operation
  • Her gums look white or very pale pink
  • Having multiple episodes of vomiting
  • Appearing in a lot of pain despite taking her pain medications. 

Additionally, if there are any problems with the wound itself then it’s best to get your vet to take a look. A little ooze from the incision can be normal on the first day, however, if there is bleeding that has soaked the wound pad, any other discharge, or if the wound seems to be very swollen, then ring your vet for advice.

Keeping all this in mind, you’ll be able to help your dog recover as fast as possible from her spay. Her 10-14 day check-up will soon arrive and she’ll be back to normal before you know it. 

What to Expect the First Night After a Spay Surgery or Neuter

Unless veterinarians have twenty four-hour care at their facility, most veterinarians prefer to send pets home for direct observation by their people. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Pay close attention to veterinary recommendations when you pick up your dog after surgery. Take notes or ask for written instructions, and make sure you observe the incision so you know what the staff considers normal.
  • Owners should plan on staying with their pet overnight. This is not the night to go out for dinner or plan to attend a concert.
  • Vomiting, extreme lethargy (beyond what your veterinarian explained you should expect to see), and signs of internal bleeding (see below) are the most immediate issues.
  • Don’t worry if he or she skips that evening’s meal or fails to drink as much water as usual. A small meal is typically recommended anyway.
  • Pain can be difficult to assess, but shaking, drooling, and hiding may be cause for concern. Dogs rarely whine or otherwise vocalize when they’re in pain.
  • Keep an eye out for bleeding or excessive weeping from the incision site. A small amount may be expected, but little beyond that. An unusually-distended abdomen or pale mucous membranes are also cause for immediate concern, as this may be evidence of internal bleeding (uncommon but possible).
  • Call your veterinarian’s professional answering service or the ER if you have any doubts. You may be asked to assess his or her gum color.

How Best to Monitor the Spay and Neuter Surgery Incision

Keeping tabs on the incision is important to ensure it’s not getting infected. Dog spay/neuter infection symptoms include:

  • Redness around the incision site
  • Discharge from the incision, particularly if it’s not clear and thin
  • A foul smell emanating from the incision
  • Opening of the incision where the brightly-colored subcutaneous tissues are exposed (called dehiscence)
  • Swelling of the incision, particularly if it’s bulging

Preventing Self-trauma After Spaying Surgery and Neutering

The most common complications to expect after neutering or spraying surgery are related to self-trauma, when pets inflict damage with their tongues or potentially with their paws. Infection or dehiscence of the incision are typical consequences. Here are a few strategies to help avoid these complications:

  • Keep that cone on!
  • Keep a close eye on your dog if you remove the recovery collar for eating or walking. Replace the collar immediately should you notice that they attempt to lick the incision.
  • Watch out for rubbing of the incision on the floor or other surfaces.
  • If the cone doesn’t seem to do the trick, try another kind of cone. Investing in a ComfyCone, a padded collar/cone may be in order. Most large pet retail outlets offer alternative collars like this one.

Spay surgery/Neuter Recovery Time

Recovery time varies and tends to depend more on size and age than anything else. Here are some general guidelines for dogs:

  • A spay surgery is an abdominal procedure that’s far more complicated than a neuter. As such, boys recover more quickly than girls. Some neutered males may not even act as if anything ever changed.
  • In general, larger, older dogs experience a longer recovery period. For these, it often takes two to three days for dogs to return to their normal selves after a spay and one to two for a neuter.
  • Dogs over three years of age may take a day or two longer to recover.
  • In many instances, older dogs (over six) can take up to a week to feel completely better after a spay or neuter surgery.
  • In general, smaller dogs recover more quickly. The incisions are smaller, and so is the internal anatomy affected, hence less discomfort. The risk of bleeding after surgery is also lower among smaller dogs.

Behavior and Other Long-term Changes After Spaying and Neutering

While a dog’s fundamental personality will not change after a spray or neuter surgery, there are some changes you might observe, including:

  • Behavioral changes are more pronounced among neutered males. They’re less likely to hump people, other dogs, and inanimate objects (though many persist).
  • Males tend to wander and urine mark less, and aggression may be diminished in dogs who previously were.
  • Females rarely experience behavior changes, though many will take on a lazier disposition.
  • Activity levels may be reduced in both males and females after spaying and neutering, but this is by no means certain in all dogs.
  • It’s important to note that males may still engage in full-testosterone male behaviors while their male sex hormone levels diminish after surgery. This can take up to six weeks. It’s crucial for owners to know that they can still get females pregnant.
  • Appetite may increase after spaying and neutering, and so can their weight. Owners should be counseled to expect this change and adjust feeding amounts accordingly.


In conclusion, spray surgery has been a successful method for controlling dog behavior. It is an effective and safe way to modify negative behaviors and prevent future misbehavior. While this approach may not be suitable for all dogs, it is a viable option for those who are struggling with behavioral issues. Careful consideration should be given to the risks involved in spray surgery before using this method on your pet. In this article we will understand the potential benefits and risks of spray surgery, owners can make an informed decision that is best for their canine companion.

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