Possible Complications After Spaying

Written by cathy lavender
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Possible Complications After Spaying
Elizabethan collars prevent an animal from licking and chewing stitches at the surgical site. (Bryan Mullennix/Creatas/Getty Images)

The term spaying, also called an ovariohysterectomy, refers to the surgical removal of a female animal's reproductive organs; the ovaries and uterus. Spaying is a common procedure that will benefit the pet's health for years to follow, but as with any surgery, problems can arise if proper post operative care is not exercised. Although unlikely, there are possible complications that can occur after spaying.

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Infection at the Surgical Site

Infection may be caused by the pet licking or chewing at the incision and stitches or allowing the surgical site to become and remain soiled. Make sure the wound stays clean by keeping the pet inside, or allowing only supervised trips outside for the first week or until the stitches are removed. To keep the incision clean dab it lightly with a cotton ball and peroxide.

Persistent licking and chewing causes the healing tissues to become swollen and irritated, in turn making the area susceptible to low-grade infections. The infection can be treated with antibiotics, and an Elizabethan collar will prevent the pet from licking or biting, causing further irritation. Often an anti-itch antibacterial ointment will ease the irritation and make the pet less likely to continue its efforts.


A hernia is a lump caused by a weakness in the muscle wall. The weak spot tears, and tissue or body organs ease through when a strain is placed on that area. If an animal does not properly rest or keep physically quiet for the first few weeks after surgery, it can be at risk of developing a hernia near the surgical site. Ideally, the pet should be allowed to recover in a room with little to no stimulation and limited access to high objects so that jumping up to sleep on the furniture does not occur. Hernias are repairable by performing additional surgery.


Dehiscence means that the site of the incision is opened and bleeding. This can be caused by the animal chewing at the stitches or by over activity making the stitches pop open. Both internal and external stitches can break if a pet becomes nauseous and vomits. This happens when the pet has been fed too soon after a surgery. Often the anesthetic makes the pet nauseous so it will not be able to keep food or large amounts of water in the stomach. The veterinarian would need to be contacted immediately, especially if the bleeding persists or if a large area of the incision were to open.


Signs of the pet having a fever are: the ears feel warm, a warm and dry nose and often a lack of energy and appetite. If the pet has developed a fever it should be taken to the vet, as this is a possible sign of an internal infection. The infection and fever can be treated with antibiotics, but the pet may require additional treatment for dehydration, and, if the infection is severe, may need to have additional surgery to clean the infected area.

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