Thank you for spaying/neutering your cat/dog. You have just done your part to not contribute to the pet overpopulation problem in our community! Although spays and neuters are common procedures, please remember that your pet has just gone through surgery and needs appropriate care to properly recover, including a clean, warm, and dry place indoors to rest.
- Anesthesia & Surgery
- Food & Water
- Pain Medication
- Surgery Site
- Licking the Surgery Site
- Jumping and Playing
- Keep Your Pet Away from Other Animals
- Bathroom Habits
- Especially for Cats
Anesthesia and Surgery
Your pet will be groggy for the first night, and some shivering is normal as body temperature returns to normal. Monitor your pet for any signs of abnormal recovery from anesthesia and/or surgery. These may include:
- Loss of appetite for more than 2 days
- Decreased water intake beyond the first day
- Lethargy, depression, weakness, or unsteady gait beyond the first day
- Discharge, bleeding, or excessive swelling or redness at the incision site
- Increased or decreased body temperature (cool or warm to the touch)
- Pale gums
- Labored breathing
- Excessive vomiting
- Excessive diarrhea
- Difficulty urinating
- Removal of internal stitches or opening of the incision
- If any of these signs occur, call the Spay 2 Save regular or post-operative phoneline.
Food and Water
Anesthesia can cause an upset stomach and/or vomiting. Provide water in small quantities once your pet is no longer groggy from anesthesia. Your pet may have a light meal in the evening, about 2 hours after returning home from surgery. If your pet is under 16 weeks of age, feed him/her approximately half the normal amount of food and water as soon as you return home. If your puppy or kitten will not eat when he/she returns home and you can do the following without risk of being bitten or scratched, rub maple or Karo syrup on the pet’s gums. To do this, put a small amount of syrup on a cotton-tipped applicator and rub it on the animal’s upper gums.
Keep in mind that many pets will not eat on the night they return home from surgery. If the animal does not eat on the evening following surgery, give him/her food and water as you ordinarily would on the day following surgery. If your pet vomits after eating on the night of surgery, discontinue food and offer only small amounts of water until the following morning. If vomiting continues or diarrhea begins, call Spay 2 Save. Your pet’s appetite should return gradually within 24 hours of surgery. Do not change your pet's diet, and do not give junk food, table scraps, milk or any other people food for one week.
Your pet was given long-acting pain medication in conjunction with the spay/neuter surgery. DO NOT GIVE HUMAN MEDICATION TO YOUR PET. It is dangerous and can be fatal. If you were given medication to administer to the animal at home, give as directed.
Male cats: The surgery site on a male cat is so small that it does not need to be closed with stitches or medical grade glue. The cat will have an open incision on each testicle and may spot blood for 24 hours. Shredded paper, a brand of litter called Yesterday's News (found at pet stores), or uncooked, long-grain rice should be used in the litter box for at least a week after surgery to avoid litter getting into the incision and causing infection.
Licking the Surgery Site
Licking at the incision can cause a painful infection. Prevent your pet from licking the surgery site by using an E-collar (see photo) or-
- For male dogs- put on men's jockey underwear (backwards, with the tail through the fly),
- For female dogs- put on a long, snug t-shirt to prohibit licking of the site.
All animals who have had surgery, except ear-tipped feral cats, receive a small green tattoo near the incision site as a permanent identification that they have been altered. For female dogs and cats as well as male dogs, the tattoo is placed alongside the surgical incision. For male cats, the tattoo is placed on the lower part of the abdomen near where the spay incision would be on a female cat. No complications from the tattoo are expected, as sterile instruments are used to create it. However, if the tattoo site is contaminated, infection could occur, so please monitor the tattoo site for redness, swelling, or discharge. If these occur, please contact Spay 2 Save. Be aware that the ink may not be completely dry the evening after surgery and may make the animal's tongue appear green if the area is licked or may stain furniture or clothing.
Jumping and Playing
Restrict jumping and playing for 7 days after surgery. Too much activity can cause the surgery site to open or become swollen. To help keep your pet from being too active:
- Place your pet in an adequately sized carrier, kennel, crate, or small room when you're not able to supervise him/her. The animal must be able to stand up and turn around in the confined area.
- If your pet is small, carry him/her up and down stairs.
- Walk your pet on-leash to allow him/her to go to the bathroom. Do not take your pet for long walks or allow him/her to roughhouse with other animals or people. Also, do not allow your pet to jump on and off furniture.
Keep Your Pet Away from Other Animals
Animals returning from the spay/neuter clinic may smell different to other animals in the household. This can cause the animals to fight, so keep your pets in separate areas for a few days following surgery.
- Keep neutered males away from un-spayed females. A newly neutered male can get an un-spayed female pregnant for up to 30 days after spay/neuter surgery.
- Keep spayed females away from un-neutered males who may wish to mount them. If your female pet was in-heat at the time of surgery, you must keep them away from un-neutered males for at least 2 weeks. While they are unable to become pregnant, if a male dog attempts to breed a female dog, it can cause serious, possibly life-threatening, damage to the female.
Contact Spay 2 Save if your pet is not regularly urinating or defecating, or is straining to urinate or defecate within 72 hours after spay/neuter surgery. Monitor your pet's urine for blood. A small amount may be present in female animals during the first 24 hours after surgery. If this continues or if your pet seems otherwise ill at any time, call the post-operative phoneline.
If your pet received a microchip, do not brush, groom, bathe, or pet him/her excessively in the area of the microchip implant (near shoulders) for the first 24 hours after he/she arrives back home. Do not allow your pet to roughhouse with other animals or people.
Especially for Cats
- Helping your cat feel safe and comfortable is important to the recovery process.
- Place your cat in a quiet, confined area such as a bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen and turn lights off.
- Provide fresh food/water and clean litter box.
- Keep in mind that cats may hide after surgery. It is a good idea to block access to all places where your cat could hide. This will allow you to more easily monitor the cat during recovery.
Care for ferals
Refer to www.alleycat.org for detailed information on Trap-Neuter-Release of feral cats.
- Feral cats need to be kept in their traps and held 24 hours after surgery in a safe, climate-controlled area. Some females may need to be held 48 hours. For instructions on providing food/ water, visit the website above.
- Make sure all cats are fully conscious, clear-eyed, and alert before release.
- You may return nursing mothers as soon as possible, once they completely regain consciousness, so they can get back to their kittens.
- Release the cat in the same area she/ he was trapped; dawn or dusk is the best time of day for release.
Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce or eliminate certain undesirable behaviors, such as urine marking, mounting, aggression, or spraying. If these behaviors do go away, they might do so gradually and may not stop entirely:
- It may take up to 30 days for male cats to stop spraying and for female cats to stop showing signs of heat.
- Older male cats may continue to spray, but their urine will not smell as badly.
- Older female cats may continue to show signs of heat for a few days (howling, crying), but they can no longer get pregnant.
- Please retain a copy of your pet's medical record for future reference.
- Please note recommendations for follow-up care, including vaccine boosters, parasite treatment or
- prevention. Consult a full-service veterinarian for this care.
- Your regular veterinarian must address illnesses or injuries that are not a direct result of surgery.
- Spay 2 Save will not be responsible for costs associated with care due to failure to follow post-operative instructions, or from contagious diseases for which the animal was not previously properly vaccinated.