Recovery Care for Spayed Dogs

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    Benefits of Spaying

    • Mammary cancer can be fatal for a female dog. Early spaying greatly reduces the chances of developing mammary cancer. If a female dog is spayed after the first heat cycle, the risk of mammary cancer is about 7 percent. With the second heat cycle, the risk increases to nearly 25 percent.

      Even if the female dog has crossed the second heat cycle or has developed obvious tumors, it is never too late to spay her. Mammary tumors are stimulated by estrogens. Since the surgery removes the ovaries that are the source of estrogens, it retards further spreading of mammary tumors.

    Spaying Procedure

    • After the pre-surgical examination (which may include blood tests), the technician rinses the belly of the dog and shaves the fur at the surgery site. Gas anesthesia is generally used for the surgery and is regulated based on the weight and health of the pet. Injectable anesthesia is more dangerous since an excessive amount can be fatal.

      The surgical team administers a muscle-relaxer injection and a short-acting barbiturate to insert a tube into the dog's airway. The surgeon places the pet on her back to access the abdomen. The surgeon carefully removes the uterus along with ovaries and the tubes. The surgeon carefully monitors for any abnormalities or excessive bleeding before closing the incision with dissolvable sutures.

      The surgery takes a half-hour on average. However, it can take much longer for dogs that carry lot of belly fat or have delivered litters before.

    Recovery In Hospital

    • Under normal circumstances, the veterinarian advises the pet remain in the hospital under observation for a day or until she is able to walk. The hospital staff can administer pain medication as necessary. Most dogs are discharged the next morning after a light meal and drinking some water.

    Home Recovery Care

    • Follow the post-operative instructions given by your veterinarian strictly after your pet is discharged.

      Start with limited food and water while the dog settles down after surgery. Nausea, loss of appetite and cough (due to the insertion of the throat tube) is quite common.

      Licking the incision may cause infection. Use an "E" (Elizabethan) collar to restrict access to stitches. Distract your pet by pampering her and giving treats.

      Do not allow your dog to indulge in strenuous activities, such as swimming, for the next few days, as fluid accumulation or swelling can delay the recovery process further. Do not bathe the dog for at least 10 days after the surgery or until the wounds completely heal.

      Allow your pet to relax indoors in a quiet place. Do not let children or other pets interact or play with her. Check the incision daily for signs of healing or infection. If your dog experiences excessive pain or discomfort, consult the vet before administering any medications.

    Potential Complications

    • If you observe excessive vaginal bleeding, take your pet to the vet immediately, as this is not normal and could turn out to be life-threatening.

      Licking or biting of the stitches can lead to infections. If you notice swelling or cloudy discharge from the incision site, your vet may suggest some antibiotics to treat the infection. In some cases, another surgery may be required to repair stitches, if they rupture.

      If your dog suffers from vomiting, diarrhea or completely loses appetite continuously a few days after the surgery or becomes listless due to excessive pain, take her to the vet immediately. However, some nausea from anesthesia is common for the first two days after surgery.

      If the body reacts adversely to the surgery, inflammation may occur at the surgery site leading to the formation of lumps in the tissues. In such cases, fresh sutures are needed.

      Most of the complications listed above are rare. If the pet owner follows the post-surgical care instructions, the recovery process is generally smooth.

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