Recovery After Spaying Female Dogs

Updated February 21, 2017

Dog owners often choose to spay female dogs to control pet population. The sterilisation procedure not only eliminates the possibility of unexpected litters, it also offers health benefits for the female dog. While the operation is a common outpatient veterinary procedure, spaying is a serious surgery that requires post-operation care.


The spay operation is a canine ovariohysterectomy, meaning that the dog's ovaries and uterus are surgically removed. The surgery is usually performed in a veterinary hospital by an experienced veterinarian. The dog is first anaesthetised, and then connected to heart and breathing monitors. An assistant places the dog on an operating table where her stomach skin is stretched and shaved. The vet then makes a small incision on the belly and carefully cuts away the uterus, ovaries and Fallopian tubes. The cuts at the cervix and ovaries are sewn with dissolvable sutures, and the outer incision is closed with stitches. The procedure is quick, and most dogs return home with their owners the same day.

Recovery Period

Immediately following the procedure, some dogs are nauseous from the anesthetics and may vomit. Lack of appetite is also common. Pain is highly likely, and effects of pain medication may make the dog seem lethargic. If stitches need to be removed from the incision site, this usually occurs about seven days after the surgery. After a spay operation, most dogs are completely recovered within 10 to 14 days.

Home Care

Once the dog is released from the hospital, the owner has the responsibility of managing pain and minimising the risk of infection. Owners should ensure that the pet has a clean, comfortable place to rest. Veterinarians will provide pain medication, which should be administered as directed. Caution should be taken to keep the incision site dry, so recently spayed dogs should not bathe or swim until 10 days after surgery. Dogs have a tendency to lick wounds, but licking could cause infection or early removal of stitches. If the dog is a habitual licker, an Elizabethan neck collar may be necessary to keep her mouth away from the incision site.


The spay operation can have positive health outcomes for female dogs. Since the procedure sterilises the dog, the risk of pregnancy and miscarriages are eliminated. The removal of the ovaries and uterus takes away any chance of ovarian or uterine cancer and reduces the risk of mammary cancer, according to Veterinary Partner.


Some owners may notice that their dog seems more calm following the spay procedure. While removal of the dog's reproductive organs does reduce their oestrogen level, dog hormones are inactive except for the short time when she is in oestrus (heat). According to Veterinary Partner, this reduction in hormones cannot be directly linked to better dog behaviour.

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About the Author

Heather Lacey is a freelance writer who has been specializing in print and Web articles since 2008. She is a regular contributor to "Go Gilbert!," "Scottsdale Health Magazine" and other local publications. Lacey has a professional background in hospitality management and studied journalism at Phoenix College.