If this is your first time dealing with your dog after a spay surgery, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed about their pain. Here is what you need to expect for normal pain, abnormal pain, and what to do in both cases!
After her spay surgery, you can expect your dog to be in pain for about a week after the procedure. The pain will be stronger in the first few days and then fade almost completely after the one-week mark.
You’ll notice pain symptoms, including restlessness, lack of appetite, and perhaps some whining. These will ease as the days pass. If you still see her showing these pain symptoms after a week, you’ll want to contact your vet.
How do I know if my dog is in pain after being spayed?
Of course, every dog is different, but there are some common signs that your dog may show that indicate she’s in pain, which is normal after her spay surgery. These include:
- Lack of appetite
- Aggressive on contact
In a case where your dog is restless, she’ll likely wander “aimlessly” around the room to another room in the house. She may lie down briefly, only to get up and continue to wander, or perhaps try lying down again somewhere else. This is her response to failing to stop the pain. Restlessness will always seem like she just won’t settle.
On the other hand, lethargy is when she doesn’t want to get up at all. Even if you try to coax her to get up, she may just stare woefully at you from her place on her blanket and completely ignore your attempts. Her pain will make her unwilling to move, as she’ll perceive it as worsening the pain.
Lack of appetite
This is most common on the day of her spay when she returns home and the day directly after her spay. By about 48 hours after she returns home, she should be eating a little bit. Lack of appetite is often a response to the anesthesia. It’ll make her slightly queasy, so she’ll be prone to vomiting. This will give her a lack of appetite until it wears off completely. Once it does, however, her appetite will either return gradually or all at once!
Some call it whining, and others refer to it as crying or whimpering. Whatever word you use to describe it, she’ll most likely be complaining in some form for a day or two after her surgery. This could be in pain, or it could be leftover anxiety or fear. Since dogs don’t understand what’s happening to them, they’ll be confused about why their tummy hurts. This is her way of communicating that concern and discomfort to you. There’s a bit more on this below for you.
Aggressive on contact
In this case, we’re referring to contact anywhere near her incision site. It can often surprise pet owners when they’re normally sweet and friendly dog bares her teeth and growls in warning at her owner when they get close to the site to check it for healing. Aggression is normal, however, and will pass very quickly!
Between the confusion of not understanding what’s going on and her pain, she’s just warning you not to get near her tummy because it’s sore. While you still need to check her site for healing, do it as carefully as possible so that she knows you won’t worsen the pain.
If you ignore her signs of aggression, she may snap at you! Take her warning seriously and listen to what she is “saying” to you.
How long will my dog cry after being spayed?
Most pet owners find the whining and crying the worst part of the spay procedure because it just sounds so pitiful. It often can be harder on the human than the rest of the healing process! If you feel edgy about your dog’s whining, rest assured that she’ll stop within the first 2-3 days. As her pain subsides and she realizes that she is safe, she will no longer feel the need to cry.
How can I comfort my dog in pain?
Since none of us want to let our dog suffer through the pain without help, here are some simple but essential tips to help her reduce her pain and heal as quickly as possible.
- Follow her medicine directions and care instructions carefully
- Create a recovery space
- Keep her from jumping and running
- Offer her lots of love
Follow her medicine directions and care instructions carefully
When you bring her home from her spay procedure, your vet will give you some pain medication as well as general instructions for how to help her recover at home. Make sure you follow those instructions and the pain medicine schedule as closely as possible. These are given out for a reason, after all.
Many pet parents will ignore the recommendation of wearing a cone. Wearing a cone after spaying as directed is one of the most helpful things you can do to help her recover! Follow the instructions as directed, and it’ll help her come back to herself as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Create a recovery space
Give her a quiet space to get as comfortable as possible and simply take some time to decompress. A spay surgery can be traumatic for dogs simply because of the confusion element. Coming home to deal with other pets, children, and general household chaos can worsen this. Show her where this designated space is for her to rest and recover and make sure that she — and no other pets or children — have access to this space so that she can tuck herself away when she needs to.
Keep her from jumping and running
A considerable part of comforting her is making sure that you keep her from unintentionally worsening the pain. This is why she will be restricted from jumping for a specific time after her spay surgery. The same goes for running, playing, and any other kind of exercise that she is typically used to.
Offer her lots of love
Most importantly, she’ll both want and deserve lots of love and attention from you. Since she feeds off of your energy, being calm, loving, attentive, and soothing can help her feel all of those things, too. Since fear tends to be a huge part of the spay for your dog, quelling that fear will go a long way to helping her comfort and pain level.
How common are complications after spay?
A spay is a routine surgery for dogs. While complications can sometimes happen with something like the anesthesia at the vet office itself, complications after she returns home will be rare. The main way to ensure no complications is to follow the instructions as directed (all of them) and keep an eye on her incision for signs of a complication. The sooner you spot it, the better and easier the treatment will be!
What can go wrong after a spay?
Three main complications can set in after a spay procedure, which is why proper care is so critical. These are:
- Internal bleeding
- Torn stitches
Some internal bleeding can happen after spay surgery. This would take the appearance of bruising around her site. This often clears up on its own. However, if you notice it getting worse, you’ll want to take her in to ensure that it is a controlled bleed.
This is when your dog either pulls her stitches by being too active or perhaps she is picking at them and undoes the incision line. Torn stitches are rare complications after a spay as long as you follow the post-surgical care instructions.
This could be an infection at the wound site or an internal infection where bacteria entered the wound during surgery and created an infection inside your dog.
Signs of infection after a spay surgery
The signs of an external and internal infection can set in suddenly, and they will get steadily worse rather than staying the same or getting better.
Signs of an external infection include:
- Heat and swelling coming from the wound
- Worsening redness and inflammation around the site
- Discharge that is white, red, green, or yellow (anything other than clear or light pink, basically)
- A foul smell coming from the wound
On the other hand, signs of an internal infection can be a little harder to spot at first. The easiest ones to spot include:
- Increased/worsening vomiting
- Severe diarrhea/bloody stool
- Restlessness and discomfort
- Dry nose
- Lack of appetite
- Signs of a fever
- Loss of consciousness
If you notice any of these external or internal signs of an infection, you’ll want to call your vet and have her looked at. The sooner that you treat an infection, the better.
How to take care of my dog’s spay incision
Caring for the incision will be as simple, for the most part, as following the care instructions you’re given.
The main thing that you’ll have to do as far as the actual incision itself is concerned is to keep an eye on it. Check it daily and watch to see if the spay incision looks as it’s supposed to, as it heals.
It’s never fun for you to see your dog in pain as they heal from their spay, but there is plenty that you can do to help them recover as quickly and as painlessly as possible. The key is to know where to focus your energy and how you can address her pain needs!
It’s normal for your dog to be in pain for about a week after her spay surgery. Signs of pain include lack of appetite, whining, and restlessness.
These symptoms reduce and disappear as her pain does. If they’re getting worse, you’ll want to check with your vet about potential complications.