Possible Complications for Dogs After Spaying

The thought of your dog undergoing surgery may cause you to tremble a bit, but spay surgery is, in fact, one of the healthiest things you can do for your pet. It is the most common abdominal surgery performed on female dogs and most recover without incident. However, it is major surgery and complications can arise. Make sure to keep a careful eye on your dog while she recuperates and seek immediate veterinary attention if needed.

Recovering after surgery
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Loose sutures

According to Steel Valley Spay Neuter Clinic, one of the most common problems occurring in the recently spayed dog concerns loose sutures or stitches. That's why vets recommend using an Elizabethan collar on your dog for about a week until her incision heals. Yes, your dog hates this "cone of shame," but it prevents her from licking or chewing the incision. After you bring her home, check the incision a few times daily. If it appears inflamed or swollen, or any pus is seeping out, contact your vet immediately. While slight bleeding for a day or two after surgery is normal, call your vet if there's significant bleeding. In a worst case scenario, the incision opens and your dog's intestines protrude. If that happens, get her to an emergency veterinary hospital at once.

Seromas and abscesses

Dogs might develop lumps or swelling at the site of the incision. Because these lumps have varying cause, it's important that your vet examine your dog and make a diagnosis. A seroma may form underneath the sutures, filled with watery, reddish fluid. Keeping your dog quiet, as the vet recommends, lessens the odds of seroma formation. Your vet makes a diagnosis by taking a fluid sample. If pus rather than liquid emerges, your dog has an abscess, which means infection-causing bacteria have invaded the incision. Dogs with abscesses often are in pain, compared to those with the normally pain-free seromas. While a seroma might resolve on its own, abscesses require drainage and your vet will prescribe an antibiotic regimen.

Canine hernias

Hernias occur when the sutures in your dog's abdominal wall collapse. This can result in fat, intestines and even internal organs falling out of the abdomen and protruding beneath the skin. If a hernia consists only of fat, it shouldn't cause your dog pain or serious consequences. If your dog appears to be in pain from the lump, the protrusion may consist of intestinal parts or even organs (commonly the bladder). Get her to the vet immediately. Your pet might require emergency surgery to save her life.

Other post-spay complications

It's not unusual for dogs to suffer from constipation after spaying. If she doesn't move her bowels by the fifth day post-surgery, ask your vet whether you might give your dog a stool softener. Your vet can recommend a specific brand and dosage. If she doesn't have a bowel movement within a few days after consuming the stool softener, take her to the vet. Some female dogs develop urinary incontinence problems after spaying. If dribbling or more serious incontinence doesn't resolve itself within a few days after the surgery, contact your vet.

Do it for her

As a responsible pet parent, it's important to take this step to ensure a healthier, happier life for your dog. Rest easy. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the incidence of complications resulting from spay surgery is quite low. The procedure does not affect your pet's ability to lead a completely normal life. Further, it goes a long way toward protecting her from some very serious health problems later in life. If you haven't yet done it, discuss your options for spay surgery and management with your vet. Do it for her.