How to Ease a Dogs' Pain After Neutering

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The ASPCA estimates that about 3.3 million dogs enter animal shelters every year in the U.S. Having your pet neutered or spayed reduces the number of unwanted dogs that are born and are hoping to be adopted. In the case of neutering dogs, it also reduces or eliminates undesirable behaviors like aggression, the desire to roam in search of mating, and the act of trying to mount other animals, objects, and even their humans when the urge strikes. While neutering is a common surgery that vets perform often, it can cause pain and complications for the dog.

Provide him a quiet place to rest

For the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery, your dog will need to rest a lot and have the space to do that away from other animals, children, and even adults. He should have a crate and be crate-trained before the surgery so he understands the command to go to his crate or to go lie down. Having the enclosed space is much better than putting him in a dog bed or your bed and expecting him to stay there. Dogs are curious, and he will surely want to find you for comfort if he has the space and freedom to roam the house.

It's normal for dogs to be listless, tired, and not have much of an appetite during the first day or so home, but be sure to provide plenty of fresh water so he stays hydrated. He will probably be hungry, so offer him a small portion of his normal food. Anesthesia can cause stomach upset in some dogs, so watch to see if he vomits, has diarrhea, or doesn't want to eat at all. It can take a few days before his potty routine is normal again, too. If these behaviors persist after the first few days, call your vet for advice.

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Separate him from other pets

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There are several reasons to keep your newly neutered dog apart from other pets for the first several days of his recovery period. Of course, it allows him to rest without being tempted to play with other pets. Also, animals that have been in a clinic or had surgery smell different, which may intrigue the other pets and even cause fights. And although he has been neutered, a neutered dog can still impregnate a non-spayed female for up to 30 days after being neutered.

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Give pain meds as prescribed

If your vet has prescribed your dog pain medication after neutering, be sure to give it to him as directed. Most dogs are in pain after the surgery, and the medication can help reduce that. Ask your vet how long you should intend to give the pain medication. Although every dog is different, many dogs will not need pain relief after a few days. Always give only the medication your vet prescribes for your dog for this surgery; never give your dog medicines intended for humans, as they can be toxic to them.

Keep him from running, jumping, and licking

It's very important to keep your dog calm and reduce his activities for at least seven to 10 days after surgery, and some vets recommend a 14-day period of less activity. Running and jumping up and down from furniture can rip out his stitches, causing another trip to the clinic to repair the stitches, including more general anesthesia and all that entails. The stitches that are used are probably self-absorbing, so he won't need to go back to the vet to have them removed.

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The incision should be kept dry and free from dirt and bacteria. Wet incisions are breeding grounds for bacteria, so don't bathe him or take him swimming for seven to 10 days. Use a leash when you take him out to potty or for a few steps around the yard as he begins to heal. Trips to the park or extended walks should wait until the incision has healed; getting dirt in the incision can cause it to get infected.

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If your dog is licking the incision, get him a cone or donut to wear so he can't reach the incision. Look for a more streamlined cone that is available today, rather than the older, wide cones that have trouble fitting through doorways and generally make moving difficult. Many dogs do better with a donut around their necks rather than having something on their heads. Be sure to introduce these before the surgery so he isn't surprised by them after surgery. Introducing means allowing him to sniff it and bump it or push it around for several sessions before putting it on him. Then put it on him so he becomes familiar with wearing it before surgery.

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Look for signs of infection after neutering dog

Check his incision frequently, at least once and even several times a day, to see how it is healing. Common signs of infection after neutering dogs include redness, swelling that doesn't go down after a day or two, and yellowish pus or oozing from the incision. Also watch to see if your dog is showing signs of depression, such as listlessness or disinterest in food or toys. Call your vet if you see any signs of infection or behaviors that are uncommon for your dog after the first day or so of the recovery period. He should be acting like his old self and seem hungry, interested in his toys and people, and generally happy.

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