10 Ways to Keep Your Dog Calm After Spay Surgery

Many dog owners struggle keeping their dogs calm after spay and neuter surgeries. Veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec shares several tips on keeping dogs calm during the spay recovery period.

10 Ways to Keep Your Dog Calm After Spay Surgery

Many dog owners struggle keeping their dogs calm after spay and neuter surgeries. Veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec shares several tips on keeping dogs calm during the spay recovery period.

Helping your dog rest after her spay surgery can be a big challenge for many owners.

tylim via Getty Images, Image created via Canva

Keeping Dogs Calm After Spay Surgery Isn't Easy!

Almost everyone knows about the importance of spaying female dogs to prevent them from getting pregnant, but not many know how challenging it can be keeping dogs calm after the procedure.

This is especially true for dogs with an active lifestyle. Livelier dogs may struggle significantly when attempts are made to ensure they rest and stay quiet for several days after the surgery.

Yet, rest and staying calm is crucial for these dogs' recovery. Your dog's incision needs time to heal, and excessive movement and exercise can put a dent in the process, sometimes leading to oozing stitches and even more serious complications, such as, in the worst case scenario, the need for a second surgery.

Dogs Bouncing Back From Surgery Too Quickly

Unfortunately, dogs don't understand a doctor's orders and may wish to continue playing and romping around after the anesthesia wears off and they return to their normal selves.

To overcome these common challenges, dog owners must often find creative ways to keep their dogs entertained while remaining calm.

In this article, veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec, a licensed veterinarian graduate of the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia, will provide several tips on how to keep your dog calm after her spay surgery and things to watch for.

A female dog's spay surgery is more involved than a neuter surgery in male dogs.


10 Ways to Keep Your Dog Calm After Spay Surgery

For many owners keeping their dogs calm after the spay surgery is the most challenging part of the process.

Immediately after the procedure, most dogs are still sleepy and calm. However, once the effects of the anesthesia fully wear off, dogs begin acting to their normal selves again.

To help dog owners keep their dogs calm, following are several methods that are simple and efficient.

1. Introduce Crate Time

This may sound boring for many dogs and owners, but during recoveries, dog crates are a beneficial tool. However, the crate will only work for dogs that are already crate-trained.

If this is not an option, you can confine the dog to a smaller room as an alternative.

2. Provide a Stimulating Environment

Just because your recovering dog cannot exercise does not mean she cannot exercise her mind. If possible, keep your dog in a room with a big window. Observing what is going on outside can be very entertaining for dogs.

3. Play Brain Games

All dogs require mental stimulation, and luckily, it can be achieved while keeping the dog calm. Playing brain games with dogs is an excellent way of ensuring calmness while also preventing boredom (which may result in destructiveness).

There are many mental games you can choose from. For example, the cup game. This is a simple yet intriguing game for dogs.

All you need to do is get three cups, turn them upside down and place a treat under one of them. Then, while your dog is watching, start switching the cups and in the end, let your dog guess which cup hides the treat.

4. Invest in Stuffed Kongs

Dogs love Kongs, especially when stuffed with delicious foods like pates and peanut butter. Giving your dog a Kong will ensure it stays calm, at least until there is stuffing inside.

5. Give Treat-Dispensing Toys

Treat-dispensing toys are a great alternative to Kong toys. They can be stuffed with small treats or sticks, depending on the toy type and the dog’s preferences.

6. Try Puzzle Toys

Puzzle games are mentally stimulating and can be played while the dog rests. There are plenty of dog puzzles available on the market.

7. Cuddles and Affection

For most dogs, spending quality time together is the best activity. In this case, it comes with a big plus—it keeps the dog calm and does not require physical activity on its behalf. Cuddling is also important for improving the bond between the dog and the owner.

8. Doggie Massage

Just like people, dogs love massages. Massaging your dog will keep her calm and relaxed while ensuring the dog is resting. Massages have several health benefits, like improving circulation and reducing stress.

Plus, they help strengthen the bond between the dog and the owner.

9. Calming Aids and Supplements

No matter what you try, some dogs cannot be kept calm. In such cases, it is a good idea to consider calming aids and supplements.

Talk to your vet about the best option (pheromones, CBD oil) and ask for specific instructions on how to use the product.

10. Use a Short Leash

As the recovery period gets to an end, and the dog can slowly start getting back to its normal routine, you will go out.

At this point, it is important to use a short leash. The short leash will keep the dog under control and prevent sudden and potentially dangerous movements, like jumping.

After your dog's spay surgery, you vet will give you a list of post-surgery instructions—follow them!


Your Dog's Spay Surgery Procedure in a Nutshell

The technical term for spaying is ovariohysterectomy (which, in translation from Latin, means the removal of the ovaries and uterus).

The main reason for spaying dogs is to prevent reproduction. However, there are additional benefits, such as:

  • Controlling the population and reducing the number of homeless dogs
  • Preventing certain diseases (like pyometra and cancer of the ovaries)
  • Decreasing the risk of cancer of the mammary glands

The general age for spaying is six months (before the reproductive system becomes active). However, the surgery can be performed at all times.

Here is an overview of the different steps during an ovariohysterectomy:

Inducing General Anesthesia

The first thing is to induce anesthesia to prevent the dog from feeling pain. There are different anesthesia protocols, but most vets start with injectable drugs and then proceed with inhalant anesthesia.

However, the exact anesthetic protocol will depend on the dog's age, breed, overall health, etc.

Monitoring Vital Signs

When the anesthesia takes effect, the dog is linked to various monitors that track its vital signs like pulse, breathing, and body temperature.

The tech will also place an intravenous catheter and connect it to a fluid drip (to keep the dog hydrated, maintain normal blood pressure, and make up for minor blood loss).

Preparation for Surgery

Once the dog is under anesthesia and its vital signs are under control, the vet tech will shave the abdomen (belly) and scrub the area with a special antiseptic that removes dirt and germs.

The dog is transferred from the preparation room to the surgical hall and scrubbed again. The veterinary staff involved in the surgery will scrub their own hands and put on surgical caps, gowns, and sterile gloves.

Surgical Procedure

The tech covers the dog with sterile surgical drapes (with a hole in the middle where the incision will be made). Then the vet surgeon will make an incision through all layers of the abdomen.

The incision should be small enough to heal quickly yet large enough to access the uterus and ovaries.

The surgeon ties off (sutures) the blood supply to the uterus and ovaries and then removes them.

Closing the Abdomen

The last part of the surgical procedure is closing the abdomen. Each layer is closed separately, and then the final layer, the skin, can be closed with glue, sutures, or staples. The approach depends on the surgeon’s preferences as well as the dog’s needs.

Anesthesia Recovery

Once the veterinary surgeon is ready, the levels of anesthesia are reduced, and the vet tech will gently clean the surgical site.

Based on the owner’s requirements, in this phase, the tech can perform smaller procedures like ear cleaning or nail trimming. Before the effects of anesthesia wear off, the dog will be given anti-pain meds.

It's not easy to keep your newly spayed dog calm once the groggy phase is over.

Spay Surgery's Post-Operative Period and Recovery

The recovery, or the postoperative period, is relatively quick and straightforward. The vet will prescribe medications (usually anti-pain drugs and antibiotics), and it is up to the owner to ensure the dog receives those meds at the scheduled times.

The vet will also recommend having the dog wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent the dog from licking the incision and worst-case scenario, opening its sutures. In general, dogs dislike e-collars, but they are an essential tool in the recovery period.

Finally, the owner will be advised to limit the dog’s mobility and avoid physical activity. Running and jumping can damage the sutures and lead to complications (like annoying seromas) that may prolong the healing period.

Under normal circumstances, the resting period lasts between 7 to 10 days. Following this timeframe, dogs can resume their normal physical activities. If something seems unusual during the recovery period, owners are advised to call their vets immediately.

It goes without saying that owners must follow up with the vet so they can monitor the incision healing and remove the sutures when the time comes.

Puzzle toys can save your sanity as your dog recovers from surgery

Spay Surgery and Keeping Dogs Calm Afterward

All in all, spaying (same as neutering) in dogs is a routine procedure and is done on a daily basis by vets worldwide. The decision to have a dog spayed should be discussed with a vet and supported by facts.

If you decide to have your dog spayed, you need to understand the importance of the recovery period: following the vet’s recommendations, giving the prescribed meds, and ensuring your dog rests. This is all essential for a smooth and fast recovery.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2023 Adrienne Farricelli

(Excluding for the Headline, this article ("story") has not been edited by MiBiz News and is published from a web feed or sourced from the Internet.)