Post-Operative Instructions

What to expect when you get your pet home

The healing process usually takes 7-10 days. During this recovery time, it is very important that you keep a close eye on your pet and prevent them from running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity. To avoid injury, dogs must be walked on a leash and cats must be confined to a small room.

For 7-10 days following surgery, pets must be kept indoors where they can stay clean, dry, and warm. Do not bathe your pet during the recovery period.

This video explains the steps you need to take to care for your pet during the 7-10 days following his/her surgery. These instructions need to be followed to ensure proper healing. If you have any questions, call the Spay/Neuter Clinic office at (334) 239-7387. If the clinic is closed and you have an urgent question, the after hours number is (334) 202-4064.

Surgery Site

Female dogs and cats have a mid-line incision in their abdomen. Male dogs have an incision just above the scrotum and male cats have two incisions, one in each side of the scrotum. Check the incision site at least twice daily for excessive redness, swelling, oozing, or drainage.

What you see the day of your pet’s surgery is what we consider normal. There should be no drainage. Redness and swelling should be minimal. Male cats may appear as if they still have testicles. This is normal, the swelling should subside gradually through the recovery period.

Surgical glue is put on top of the incision(s) and tattoo as a waterproofing agent. As the surgical glue dries, the incision and tattoo can have a white, crusty appearance similar to when super glue dries on your finger. This is part of the healing process and is nothing to worry about.

DO NOT ALLOW YOUR PET TO LICK OR CHEW AT THE INCISION. If this occurs, we recommend you purchase an Elizabethan collar (“E-collar”) or bitter agent such as Yuck No Bite or Bitter Apple spray to deter licking and chewing. E-collars are attached to your pet’s collar and are worn around their head. E-collars physically prevent your pet from reaching the surgical site to lick and chew. These products can be purchased at our clinic or any major pet store.


Your pet will receive two different pain management medications.  The first pain management medication will be administered to your pet prior to the surgical procedure. The second pain management medication will be administered after the surgery is completed. The name and dosage of the post-operative pain medication is denoted on the pink “Post-Operative Instructions” form you received when your pet was discharged. Never medicate your pet after surgery without first consulting with a veterinarian.

Female Pets In Heat

If your female dog or cat was in heat at the time of surgery, you must keep them away from un-neutered males for at least two weeks. While they are unable to become pregnant, they will still attract intact males. If a male attempts to mate with your female cat or dog, serious bleeding and trauma to the reproductive tract may occur; possibly leading to death. Additionally, females may continue to bleed vaginally for up to two weeks following their spay procedure.


Unless you are told otherwise, your pet does not have external sutures. All sutures are internal and dissolvable. Do not clean or apply topical ointment to the incision site. If you are told that your pet has skin sutures or skin staples, they will need to return to the clinic in 7-10 days to have the staples removed. Male cats do not have any sutures.


Some animals are active after surgery, while others are quiet. It is very important that you limit your pet’s activity for the next 7-10 days. No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity during the 7-10 day recovery period. Dogs must be walked on a leash when outside and all animals must be kept inside during their recovery. Cats should be kept in a small room the night of their surgery to limit their activity. Keep your pet quiet.

Like humans, animals can be groggy waking up from anesthesia. However, lethargy lasting for more than 24-48 hours after surgery, diarrhea, or vomiting are not normal and you should contact us immediately.

Dogs and female cats have internal sutures that provide strength to the tissue as they heal. Any strenuous activity could disrupt this healing process. The healing process takes at least 7 days.


Offer your pet a small snack the night of surgery. Do not be concerned if your pet does not want to eat the evening of their surgery. Their appetite should return gradually within 24 hours of surgery. Do not change your pet’s diet at this time and do not give junk food, table scraps, milk or any other people food for a period of one week. This could mask post-surgical complications.

What to Look For

Spaying and neutering are very safe surgeries; however, complications can occur. Minimal redness and swelling should resolve within several days. If it persists longer, please contact us. Please contact us immediately if you notice any of the following:

  • pale gums
  • depression
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • discharge or bleeding from the incision
  • difficulty urinating
  • labored breathing

If you have any surgery-related questions or concerns during your pet’s recovery period, please do not hesitate to contact the clinic at 334-239-7387 (PETS). After hours, call (334) 202-4064 to speak with our on-call, emergency veterinary assistant or veterinarian. Our on-call personnel will address your concerns and provide a referral to our emergency veterinarian, if necessary.

We recommend your pet receive a post-operative examination 7 to 10 days after surgery to have the incision checked for complete healing, remove any skin sutures or staples, and discuss follow-up care. We offer this service FREE OF CHARGE Monday-Thursday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Appointments are not necessary for this follow up visit.

If the above post-op instructions are completely followed, the Alabama Animal Alliance Spay/Neuter Clinic will treat, at our clinic, at minimal cost, any post-op complications resulting directly from the surgery. Your regular veterinarian must address illnesses or injuries that are not a direct result of surgery. Please contact us as soon as you see cause for concern. We cannot be held responsible for complications resulting from a failure to follow post-op instructions or for contagious diseases for which the animal was not previously properly vaccinated.

Download our Post-Operative Instructions sheet here:

Post-Operative Instructions