Neutering a dog is one of the most important things you can do for him. Not only does it curb unwanted habits such as territorial marking and aggression, but there are health benefits as well, such as preventing testicular and prostate cancers and reducing accidents due to a lessened desire to roam. The operation takes 30 minutes or less and is simple. There are few complications regarding surgery itself, with the majority of complications arising during recovery.
Immediately after surgery, the dog will be placed in recovery. This is so the effects of the anesthesia can wear off and pain medication can be administered. The main complication during this phase is the possibly of aspiration. A dog cannot properly protect his airway while under the influence of anesthetic drugs, so any liquids such as saliva or stomach contents can be accidentally inhaled into the lungs where they can set up an infection. Specially trained personnel will watch the dog in recovery to try and prevent this from happening. Dogs should be monitored for up to 10 days post surgery for signs of pneumonia such as lethargy, loss of appetite and coughing.
Another complication that sometimes arises in the phase of recovery in what's known as rebound anesthesia. As the dog's body continues to eliminate the drugs from his system, he can very easily slip back into an anesthetized state. It is important for dogs that are waking up from anesthesia not be offered food and water for a period of several hours post surgery to prevent accidental drowning. This phenomenon can happen for up to 48 hours post surgery.
Hypothermia is another consideration during the recovery period immediately after neutering. The dog should be kept covered and his temperature checked regularly to avoid this complication. External heating sources are generally not required unless the dog is small or has an underlying condition that would prevent him from being able to generate enough heat to keep warm. Dogs that go home the day of surgery should be kept indoors to prevent hypothermia, even during the summer months.
Infection is always a consideration when performing any kind of surgery. The likelihood of a dog developing postoperative infection is minimized by the fact that the surgery is performed in a sterile environment. Post surgical infection generally comes after the patient is allowed to go home and is not properly monitored for excessive licking or scratching at the incision site. Treatment with oral antibiotics and proper wound care will clear up infections quickly.
Dogs that have undergone neutering should be kept out of the water, bathing and swimming, for 10 days postoperatively. No physical restrictions are generally placed on a dog after neutering, and many will act as if nothing has happened. Dogs should be discouraged from licking or scratching at the incision site, and owners are encouraged to examine the site daily for signs of infection or opening of the skin. If exterior sutures are present, they should be removed in seven to 10 days.