One of the most routine surgeries performed by vets, spaying still is surgery and complications can ensue. Fear of spay complications shouldn't keep you from getting your dog fixed. Unspayed female dogs are subject to other conditions, some serious, that don't affect spayed canines. Plus, there's no dealing with heat.
Your dog's just had a hysterectomy, which is major abdominal surgery, and she'll have an incision and might have sutures. Many vets use internal sutures that don't require removal. Your vet will instruct you to keep your dog quiet for a week or more, which often is easier said than done with active, young dogs. You don't want your dog to open her incision, perhaps the major complication of spay surgery. Keep her inside and don't allow the incision to get wet.
Check your dog's incision at least twice daily. If you see any sign of infection, such as inflammation around the incision or pus, call your vet immediately. If the incision appears to be opening, that's another red alert and reason to contact the vet. If she starts chewing at the incision, you may need to put an Elizabethan collar around her neck. These are available from the vet or the pet store.
Complications from anesthesia, while relatively rare, do occur. If your dog has any sensitivity to anesthesia, tell your vet. Of course, for most female dogs spaying is the first time anesthesia is ever administered. Discuss the type of anesthesia used with your vet before the surgery.
Other symptoms of post-surgery complications include vomiting or diarrhea, urinary problems, and constant panting or difficulty breathing. If your dog's gums are pale, she starts bleeding or she seems dehydrated or depressed, call your vet.
This condition might not turn up for quite a while. Because the ovaries are removed in the spay procedure, your dog's estrogen levels drop precipitously. Lack of estrogen affects the sphincter muscle, so some spayed female dogs may leak urine. The larger the breed, the more common the problem. Fortunately, several medications exist to control this issue, including supplemental estrogen. Certain herbs used for urinary tract health reportedly help dogs, as does changing the diet to avoid grains, which may irritate the urinary tract. Consult your vet for the best options for your girl.
Besides the obvious benefit of not having to worry about your dog getting pregnant, there are other good reasons to spay. Your dog has far lower odds of contracting breast cancer and none of suffering from pyometra, a uterine infection that can prove fatal. If she suffers from vaginitis, a vaginal inflammation, spaying usually takes care of that.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.