All About Dog Neuter Recovery [Surgery Types, Complications & Tips]

Table of Contents

Everyone knows that responsible pet owners get their dogs fixed so that unexpected and unwanted litters aren’t born. Getting your dogs fixed can be especially important if your dog’s ancestry has a history of genetic medical conditions. 

In males getting your dog ‘fixed’ refers to getting neutered, and in females, it refers to getting spayed.

Just because it’s a commonly done surgery doesn’t mean that it should not be taken seriously though. You must know what to expect and what you should do to help your dog recover once he’s been neutered.

So what does it mean to get your dog neutered, and what should you do to help him recover?

This guide on dog neuter recovery will go through

  1. The dog neuter surgery process
  2. Types of dog neuter surgery
  3. Dog neuter recovery time
  4. Dog recovery from neuter complications
  5. Tips on male dog neuter recovery
  6. Q&A

Let’s begin!

Dog Neuter Surgery Process

The process of neutering a dog involves removing his reproductive organs so that he’s infertile and can’t father any puppies. If you’re unfamiliar with this process, it can seem cruel. However, it can be an important part of responsible pet ownership, as it helps stop unwanted puppies or potentially puppies with health issues from being born.

A male dog should typically be neutered after 6 months, commonly this is recommended between 6 and 9 months of age. 

You’ll have to book an appointment for the surgery in advance with your veterinarian. This is something that could potentially be brought up and discussed in your first few appointments with your new little puppy. Your vet will have a better idea of the best time to do the surgery and how far in advance you’ll need to book it. (Different vet’s offices will be at different levels of busyness and involve different timeframes of planning.)

Getting back to the surgery itself, there may be things you need to do to prepare your dog for the surgery. Talk to your vet about what they suggest. The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) recommends only giving your dog a small snack in the morning on the day of surgery and keeping your dog inside so he can’t eat something you won’t see.

After the surgery, your dog will likely only need to stay overnight with the vet for one night (depending on when their surgery time was). You’ll drop him off and pick him up the next day, good as new.

But what about the surgery between you dropping him off and picking him up?

Types of Dog Neuter Surgery

Types of Dog Neuter Surgery

There are two types of surgery to neuter a dog:

  1. Open castration
  2. Closed castration

The difference between the two types of surgery is the method of removing the reproductive organs. The result is still the same. 

With both open and close castration, an incision will be made to your dog’s abdomen near his genitals so that the reproductive organs can be removed. So, no matter which surgical method is used, your dog will be going home with stitches.

Open Castration

Open castration is when an incision is made in the membrane covering the testes, as The Spruce Pets explains. The testes, spermatic cord, and ligaments can then be cut out of the dog carefully from there, typically done in several different cuts.

Closed Castration

Closed castration is when that incision isn’t made. Instead, the reproductive structures are removed at once. However, the above-cited The Spruce Pets article mentions that a couple of knots are typically tied to prevent bleeding.

Note: According to Veterinary Practice News, there isn’t necessarily enough evidence to make a judgment call on which technique is definitively better. However, open is typically recommended for large and closed small dogs. 

Dog Neuter Recovery Time

Dogs will take different times to recover from their surgeries. However, your pup should be fully recovered in about two weeks.

We’ve outlined the general dog neuter recovery timeline in the table below.

Time Range Description
6-9 Months of Age The neutering surgery happens
First Night Your dog will likely stay overnight at the vet’s
Day After Surgery You’ll be able to bring your dog home, potentially with a cone around his head so he can’t reach his stitches, and with a prescription for pain medication
First Couple of Days Rest for your pup to recover from surgery and so he doesn’t aggravate the stitches, incisions, etc. incurred from the surgery
First Week Low activity for your pooch, so he doesn’t aggravate the stitches, incisions, etc. incurred from the surgery
After About Two Weeks Full recovery of your pooch, cone to be removed, and stitches are either dissolved or removed.

This is just a general breakdown of small and large dog neuter recovery. You can discuss the specifics of recovery with your vet. If your little boy appears to be in more pain than he should be, is not acting himself a few days post-surgery, isn’t properly using the bathroom, or if anything else appears to be not quite right with the recovery process, make sure you consult your vet. Your vet will probably want to bring your pup in to examine him and identify any issues so they can be treated appropriately.

And that brings us to our next section on dog recovery from neuter complications.

Dog Recovery from Neuter Complications

dog neuter recovery

Having your dog neutered is a relatively safe surgery. But, it is still a surgery, and sometimes complications do happen. That doesn’t mean your dog won’t still recover, though. The recovery process might just look a bit different. These complications can include

  • Cryptorchid dog neuter recovery
  • Infection dog neuter recovery
  • Scrotal bruising and/or swelling
  • Hemorrhage and/or bleeding

Cryptorchid Dog Neuter Recovery

Cryptorchidism is when a dog’s testicles have not properly dropped into the scrotum, so they remain located in the abdomen. Neutering a dog with cryptorchidism is still possible, although PetMD states that it’s common to hold off neutering until the dog is a year old to give the testicles time to drop.

How the testicles were found to be removed may affect the recovery process of your pooch. However, if all goes to plan, the recovery should not be much different than that of a regular dog neuter recovery. 

Infection Dog Neuter Recovery

Surgeries always come with the risk of infection, so ensure you’re monitoring your dog for any signs of infection. Signs of an infection can be

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • The area is sensitive to the touch
  • Pus
  • Your dog is acting lethargic, not like himself (or otherwise suggesting he’s in pain).

The easiest area to check for infection is around the stitches. The skin in that area should look healthy. There should be no redness, swelling, crustiness, etc.

However, that’s just the visible stitches near your dog’s genitals. You’ll still need to monitor your dog for any signs of an internal infection, which may have less obvious visual clues for you to pick up on.

Scrotal Bruising and/or Swelling Dog Neuter Recovery

According to Pet Resource, there’s a 50% chance that dogs over 50lbs will develop scrotal bruising and swelling, developing a hematoma due to the incision site bleeding and leaking fluid into the scrotum.

Typically, this ends up being an ultimately harmless occurrence (which makes sense if it happens about half the time in a certain size of dog).

Although it is usually nothing to fear, clearing up on its own (although it can be aided with ice), there does become a time when you should take a trip back to the vet’s to get it looked at if the swelling hasn’t gone down (the same Pet Resource article suggesting after 24 hours). The article even recommends not feeding your dog in case surgery is required.

Hemorrhage and/or Bleeding Dog Neuter Recovery

The definition of hemorrhaging is when a large amount of blood pours out of your blood vessels, according to Merriam-Webster. It can happen in dogs, just like in humans (and other animals), and, more to the point, it can happen to your dog after he’s been neutered.

According to Dispomed, hemorrhaging typically occurs after neutering because the internal ligatures weren’t secured properly and have slipped out of place. The article also suggests that this may require surgery, including opening your dog back up to locate the bleeding.

However, for that to be possible, you’ll have to know how to recognize the signs of hemorrhaging in your dog. Some of these symptoms, like lethargy, may be similar to an infection’s. But other features, like pale gums, as noted in the article, will be telltale signs of internal bleeding.

Tips on Male Dog Neuter Recovery

male dog neuter recovery

Your dog will probably recover from his neutering without complications, including any of the others mentioned previously. However, while your dog’s in recovery, there are things you can do to prevent any further complications or to help facilitate an easier recovery for your pup. Some of our tips for dog neuter recovery are

  • Follow your vet’s recovery plan
  • Take it easy on the exercise
  • Keep your dog away from his stitches
  • Watch for signs of any issues
  • Keep your dog strong with a balanced diet and supplements

Follow Your Vet’s Recovery Plan

Our first tip is to simply follow the advice your vet provides you for your dog’s recovery. No one will know the intricacies of your dog’s surgery better than the one who performed it, so trust your vet’s plan. If, for some reason, your vet doesn’t give you any expectations for your dog’s recovery, ask when you go to pick him up. You can even ask if there’s anything you should be looking for that differs from the general timeline we’ve provided in the previous table.

If you aren’t able to or fail to comply with your veterinarian’s instructions for whatever reason, let your vet know. This way, your vet can give you another action instead and/or tell you what to be careful of or look out for now that you’re going off-script.

Your vet is probably busy, so it’s important not to bother them over every little thing. But it’s also important that your dog recovers from his surgery, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your vet if you have questions or are unsure about something.

Take It Easy on the Exercise

Your dog just had surgery and will still have stitches and internal ligatures. So make sure your dog takes it easy during recovery. He may be in pain, anyway, and be feeling more low-energy than usual at first, although that shouldn’t last the full duration of his recovery.

But even when he starts to get his energy back, make sure you don’t let your pup engage in reckless activities that could re-open incisions, tear stitches, damage ligatures, etc. If your dog engages in these activities, it might make a trip back to the vet to repair the damage necessary.

So, for the ease of a seamless recovery, it’s best only to let your dog engage in lighter, less intensive exercises. For the first couple of days, this should include only rest, but after that, you can incorporate low-energy activities into your dog’s routine. No running, leaping, bounding, jumping, pouncing, twirling, swimming, etc.

Especially no swimming, as you really shouldn’t be getting the stitches wet unless given a cleaning routine for them by your vet.

Keep Your Dog Away from Stitches

Likely, your dog will come home with a big cone on his head so that he can’t lick at his stitches. This is good. Leave that cone on, even if you feel it looks silly or impedes your dog’s movement. It’s there for your dog’s good. Because if he begins licking his stitches, he risks getting bacteria that could cause an infection in the incision.

Keep your dog away from his stitches in other ways, too. Don’t let him scratch at them, for example. Not only does this run the same risk of infection, but it can also harm the stitches or the healing incision.

As a general rule, leave the stitches alone unless instructed to clean the area by your vet, and make sure your dog leaves them alone. You want the area to have as little risk of infection or re-opening as possible, as both can impede healing.

Watch for Signs of Issue

One of the best tips we can give you is to be vigilant. Your dog will probably be fine but watch him anyway for any signs of an issue. You don’t want to become paranoid and see issues that aren’t there. But that’s what this guide is for! To help you know what to look for.

Look for signs of infection, hematoma, hemorrhaging, and other medical issues, but also make sure the rules are followed for the smaller stuff. Make sure he’s not trying to jump in ponds and get his stitches wet, scratch at his stitches, get his cone off and lick them, etc.

The more vigilant you are, the better you’ll feel. You’ll be armed with knowledge about what to look for, and you’ll be able to tell that your dog is fine if he’s fine and get prompt medical attention if something does happen.

Keep Your Dog Strong with a Balanced Diet and Supplements

Having a healthy, balanced diet is always important for your dog, especially after an ordeal like surgery. There’s a chance your dog may be too stressed to eat or have an upset stomach and not want to eat when you first bring him home. But, shortly after that, you’ll want to make sure your dog is getting the nutrition he needs to ensure he’s in good health, with a strong immune system so he can heal in no time.

The food you feed your dog is a large part of this, but you can also add supplements to the mix. Different types of supplements will target different things you may want a boost for.

Here at Integricare, for instance, we offer two types of joint supplements for pets, including dogs.

  1. TRI-ACTA includes the cartilage repairing and breakdown prevention ingredients of glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin in a proactive way for younger dogs.
  2. TRI-ACTA H.A. includes those ingredients plus hyaluronic acid for joint lubrication, to help speed up the recovery process from surgeries, and to aid highly active or older pets with mobility issues.

Our supplements don’t include any filler ingredients, so your dog would just be getting the good active ingredients in a condensed form easy to hide in their food.

TRI-ACTA H.A. for Pets

Our maximum strength formula is optimally designed to accelerate the formation of cartilage, minimize inflammation, expedite the healing process, and improve joint conditions.

However, if you want more information on great food to pair with your supplements for dogs, check out our article Top 10 Best Canadian Natural Dog Food & Supplements


dog neuter q&a

Why do dogs need to be neutered?

Technically, dogs don’t NEED to be neutered. However, it’s highly recommended as a part of responsible ownership, unless your dogs are going to be used for breeding (which should only be done if all the responsible measures have been taken).

Otherwise, it is often recommended to neuter your dogs to prevent them from fathering litters of puppies that may suffer from health issues or be unable to be homed.

If you choose not to neuter your dogs, the consequences that may come with that are your responsibility to manage.

We’ve laid out a table below with the pros and cons of neutering your dog.

Pros Cons
  • Your dog won’t father unwanted puppies
  • Your dog won’t pass any genetic health issues along to puppies
  • Unwanted puppies won’t (need to) be taken to a shelter
  • Your dog will likely mount things less often
  • Your dog will be less likely to wander or mark
  • Your pup won’t be able to father puppies if you do want to breed him
  • It’s surgery. Although relatively safe, surgeries will always have a certain element of risk involved
  • It can be expensive to neuter your dog

Why is dog neutering so expensive?

The price may vary depending on where you are and the veterinarian’s office you go to. However, it is a surgery typically involving your pooch staying the night.

If you’re looking for possible help covering the costs, consider getting pet insurance, which you can learn more about in our article Pet Insurance – What You Need to Know.

In Conclusion

So, there you have it. That’s everything you need to know about the neutering and dog neuter recovery process for your dog.

Now when you get your dog neutered, you’ll know exactly what to expect. And with our tips of

  • Follow your vet’s recovery plan
  • Take it easy on the exercise
  • Watch for signs of any issues
  • Keep your dog away from his stitches
  • Keep your dog strong with a balanced diet and supplements

Hopefully you’ll be able to direct your dog to an easy, complication-free recovery.

Check out our other blog posts and resources for more information on looking after your dog (or other pets). 

And don’t forget to shop our pet supplements to keep your dog’s joints strong here

TRI-ACTA H.A. for Pets

Our maximum strength formula is optimally designed to accelerate the formation of cartilage, minimize inflammation, expedite the healing process, and improve joint conditions.