Unfortunately your dog can't tell you if she is in pain or suffering some other form of discomfort after surgery. Careful observation of her behavior will alert you to any symptoms that need treatment, so keep her close to you in a quiet, restful part of your home.
Animals, like humans, may experience some pain post-surgery. The level of pain depends on your dog. Some dogs bounce back to normal behavior within a few hours of surgery, while others may moan and show signs of agitation for up to a few days afterward. If you dog tries to bite the incision, this is another symptom of pain. You should discuss pain relief with your vet before bringing your dog home. He will provide you with pain medication -- and information about the proper dosage -- that is suitable for your dog. If you see that your pet is in pain, do not attempt to give her aspirin, Tylenol or Advil as these can have a deadly effect on a dog.
Coughing And Gagging
You may notice that your dog gags and coughs when you get her home. The reason for this is that the vet places a tube in your dog's windpipe just before starting the spaying operation and this tube stays in place throughout. It allows the vet better control of the anesthesia and keeps your pet's airways open, but it can cause some irritation in the windpipe. Your dog's reaction to this irritation is to cough. According to the East Bay SPCA, any gagging or coughing symptoms should only last a few days, and if the symptom persists you should call your vet. Also, give the vet a call if your dog appears to experience any breathing problems post-surgery.
Spaying is a routine surgical procedure, but as with any surgery, complications can occur. For example, your dog may have a reaction to anesthetic, or she may develop an infection in the wound. Some redness and swelling around the wound is normal and keeping her from licking or biting it is essential. Putting an Elizabethan collar on her for up to seven days will prevent her from getting to the wound. However, if the wound is bleeding, consult your vet. Also, if the swelling around the wound forms a lump, accompanied by fever and lethargy, contact your vet.
Other symptoms that need a vet's attention are an inability to get up and walk 12 hours after the surgery. Lethargy for more than 48 hours is also worth a call to the vet. While your dog may not want to eat immediately after surgery, you should call the vet if she is still not eating after 24 hours. At the other extreme to lethargy, some dogs become overactive after surgery and risk tearing the stitches in the wound. Overactivity is not so much a symptom of spaying, but a result of effective pain relief after surgery. However, you should discourage your pet from running and tumbling around for at least seven to 10 days after surgery. Walk her on a leash and keep her in a quiet environment to make sure she has a rapid recovery.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.