How to Care for a Dog After Neutering Surgery -- The First 24 Hours

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Dog wearing cone and sleeping on a mattress.
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The first 24 hours after a neuter surgery are critical for your dog's safety and recovery. Your pooch may be a little fuzzy from the anesthesia. He'll have a sore spot on his belly, which will make him a little uncomfortable. You'll need to monitor his food and water intake, separate him and put a special collar on him to limit his access to the wound, if needed. It's also important to keep an eye on his sore and give him his meds. If you suspect anything is out of the ordinary, call your vet.


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Offer Food and Water

Your pooch shouldn't have anything to eat for two to four hours after he gets home. Between the lingering anesthesia and his recent car ride, he might be queasy. Give him small portions of food -- just a few bites worth or half his normal amount at a time for the first 12 to 24 hours. Leave a bowl of water for him, too. He might not want to eat or drink and that's normal. As long as he seems to tolerate everything and not throw up his food, you should be able to resume his normal feeding schedule the next day. If he does vomit, take away his food and leave him with water or ice cubes until his stomach settles.


Keep Him Secluded

Keep your furry friend away from all other animals -- even the feline ones. Your pup smells strange and may act different after his procedure. The unfamiliarity can cause a fight, especially if your newly neutered pal feels nervous or uneasy. Plus you don't want other animals to lick or bite his wound, which could delay healing. Create a safe-healing haven for your pooch in a bedroom. He'll need his own bed, toys and food and water dishes. You need to restrict his activity for at least a week, meaning if the rest of your furry bunch are full of energy, it's probably best to keep him secluded.


Leave the E-Collar On

Odds are, your vet sent your barking buddy home with an Elizabethan collar. This lampshade-looking device prevents your dog from nipping at his incision site, so it's important to keep it on for at least a week. Your buddy can sleep in it and even eat and drink while it's on. However, because it's a little hard to get used to that first day, your pooch might be reluctant to dine and drink. Take it off for short periods if this is the case. Make sure you're there to watch him and put it back on as soon as he's done.


Other Points of Care

Keep an eye on the incision site. It likely will bleed or drain a bit, particularly within that initial 24-hour period. This is typical and completely normal, but if it continues to drain or if it heavily saturates his bedding, it's time to give your vet a call. Give your pet any antibiotics or pain medications as prescribed. You can slip pills into soft smelly treats or a spoonful of wet food to get your pup to take them.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.