Get All the Facts About Your Pet’s Spay/Neuter Surgery

Monday, June 3, 2013
Bring this handy list of questions to your next appointment

veterinarian, dog, spay/neuterGuest post by Susan Richmond, executive director of Neighborhood Cats

Do you know what to expect before, during and after your pet’s spay and neuter surgery?

Bring this handy list of questions to discuss with your veterinarian and ensure you get all the facts.

Before your pet’s surgery:

How old should my pet be when he or she is spayed/neutered?

Most clinics require animals to reach “two months, two pounds” before they consider them strong enough for surgery. From this point to six months of age, vets refer to the surgery as pediatric, or early-age spay/neuter. Because babies are more fragile, veterinarians receive extra training in order to perform pediatric spay/neuter surgeries.

PetSmart Charities supports non-profit spay/neuter clinics nationwide, many of which are qualified to perform spay and neuter surgeries for puppies and kittens under six months old. In fact, if you take your pet in to a participating PetSmart Charities-funded clinic in June, your pet’s surgery will only cost $20.

After June, you can find a clinic near you using our online locator.

What precautions should we take with my senior pet’s surgery?

Even when animals are older, the benefits of spaying and neutering almost always outweigh the risks of surgery. Vets should give pets more than five years old pre-surgical blood tests, to show how well their major organs are functioning. That will help keep them safe through anesthesia. Ask your veterinarian about blood work for your senior pet.

How much spay/neuter experience do you have?

Ask about your vet’s surgical experience. If the doctor who will operate on your pet is a recent vet school graduate or has limited experience, that’s okay. Just confirm that will one or more senior veterinarians be on-site, ready to take over if needed. Complications, like adverse reactions to anesthesia, can happen at any time, even during minor or routine procedures.

When should I take away food and water before surgery?

It’s important to stop feeding your pet around midnight the night before surgery. You can offer water overnight but remove it in the morning. This will help to reduce the risk of vomiting under anesthesia.

If your puppy or kitten is under 16 weeks and cannot go long stretches without eating, you can feed him a small meal the morning of surgery. Make sure it’s about ¼ – ½ of their usual ration. Confirm exact feeding instructions with your vet.

During your pet’s surgery:

Will you examine my pet before she undergoes anesthesia?

A veterinary professional should examine your pet before a procedure. Pre-surgical exams detect problems ranging from minor (such as a mild respiratory infection) to major (heart disease). Your vet may reschedule the surgery if problems arise.

How will the surgery team give anesthesia to my pet? Who will monitor my pet while under anesthesia?

Your vet should give your pet general anesthesia during the surgery. He or she will breathe throughout the procedure, through a tube inserted in his throat.

Cat neuter surgeries are the only exception to general anesthesia. The vet may sedate a male cat with a face mask because cat neuter surgeries are so quick. Ask your vet if the surgery team will continuously monitor your pet’s heart rate and blood oxygen levels with a machine during surgery.

If complications do arise, how will you handle them?

Fortunately, pets rarely face major problems resulting from spay/neuter surgery—but it’s best to be prepared. Your pet may need care that goes beyond routine while he is in the hospital. Oryou’re your pet may develop an emergency condition after-hours once she’s been discharged.

Check with your vet: If any of these things happen, will the clinic provide the required care, or will you need to go elsewhere?

After your pet’s surgery:

How can I control my pet’s pain after the surgery?

Numerous studies show that pets – just like humans – heal faster when they’re relieved from pain. Confirm with your vet that the clinic or hospital offers pain management as part of their overall plan for your pet’s post-surgical care. Never administer human pain medications on your own. Human medication can be fatal to animals.

How soon can I feed my pet after surgery?

It’s usually best to wait an hour or two after arriving home to offer water and a small amount of food if your pet has same-day surgery. Kittens and puppies under four months of age will need to eat sooner, to avoid a drop in blood sugar. Check with your vet for complete feeding instructions.

Do I need to come back to have the stitches removed? If so, when?

Many clinics use sutures that dissolve on their own after the surgical incision has healed so a return visit isn’t necessary. Ask your vet what type of stitches the clinic uses. If necessary, plan to visit your vet to remove non-dissolvable sutures in 10-14 days.



can i wait until thier done with the surgery so i can immediatly take her home?


Hi Jennifer, that's not likely. Your pet will need time to recover from her surgery so that her woulds will properly heal. She'll also need to recover from anesthesia. Of course, your pet's recovery is up to your individual veterinarian, so your best bet is to call ahead with any questions that you have about your pet's surgery. Best of luck!



My puppy got spayed today and she still won't eat or drink a thing, she won't stop shaking and I don't know how to get her to take her pain meds any suggestions?


Hi Kelsey, I'm sorry to hear your puppy is having trouble. Please reach out to the organization who performed the spay surgery. They will be able to give you individual advice for your pet.


When I bring my dog to the vet for the surgery so they need to be wearing a muzzle or can I just put them on a collar and leash? Or do I need to bring cages for them?


Hi Amber, please reach out to the clinic directly to find out about their individual requirements. Thank you.


My lab got Neutered on monday, today is friday and he is eating (but not all of his food) and refuses to drink water...He seems depressed because he has a E-collar on too...But We were told not to take it off him as he would lick the wound..
Should I ring up the vet to make sure their isnt anything serious? or is it this normal? and he just needs time to recover..


Hi Monica, please reach out to your veterinarian with questions related to your pup's surgery. We are not able to provide individual medical advice. Thank you.


My 4 year old 3 # teacup Yorkie was spay this morning just at beginning of heat.
I have spine injuries and pneumonia and I'm a bit surprised the vet sent my pup home so quickly. Despite pain mess, she has acid reflux and I can't get anything in her! Even water. She's not dehydrated but how long before I worry about acid stomach- dry heaves n fluids?
I cannot contact vet not get her to night clinic so any feedback would help.


Hi Cindy, I'm happy to hear you got your dog fixed. However, you'll need to call your veterinarian to answer any post-surgery questions you might have. We are not able to provide individual medical advice. Thank you.


I have a 7 month old kitten that will be neutered in a wee k. I'm really just wondering if it is necessarily important for him not to eat after midnight.


Hi Melody, I'm happy to hear you're getting your kitten fixed. We cannot offer specific medical advice, so please reach out to your veterinarian for further explanation. 


I adopted a male kitten and didnt know he was just neutered 2 days ago. Is that ok? He is VERY shy already since he is in new suroundings but now I am nervous that it was too soon. He is eating and using the litter but stays curled up in a ball on the bed. Is it the meds still or is he scared of me?


Hi Felicia, pets can be fixed at 2 months of age. Please reach out to the animal welfare organization where you adopted him, or your veterinarian, for specific advice about your kitten.


If all sutures don't come out will this hurt my dog, there is 2 small sutures left?


Hi Sarah, please reach out to your veterinarian with questions related to your pet's surgery. 


Hi, My 6 month old Lab got spayed yesterday, and when we brought her home she was sleeping all evening and night. And this morning, she seems to be back at her normal self...playing with toys, running a little, she can get on and off the couch fine. Is that much energy okay right after surgery? She isn't rough housing just yet, she is just playful. I have read some places say she shouldn't be that active right after, but what do you think?

Thank you,


Hi Elizabeth, puppies and kittens tend to recover from surgery quicker than adults, however, we always recommend you talk to your veterinarian about specific questions related to your pet's health.

Juan herrera

It Has Been A Month That My Sura (Pitbull) Has Came Out Of An Emergency Surgery... And My Baby Has Not Have A Decent Meal.. She Is Losing Weight And Won't KeeP Down The Little Food That She Does Eat.. I'm Very Scared In Losing Her!!What Do i Do?? She Is Almost All Bones!! :(


Hi Juan, I'm so sorry to hear about Sura, and I hope she gets better soon. Have you reached out to your veterinarian? He or she is best equipped to answer specific questions about your pet's health. 


Hi Juan,
How is your Sura doing now? my heart ached when I read your post, I just had to ask & pray she is ok now?



My kitten is a 7-8 month old kitten and he's scheduled for his neutering next month I had my oldest cat have his back in august and after his surgery I noticed he got a skin problem I was just wondering if it is safe to proceed with my kittens surgery at his age. ?


Hi Ashtin, thanks for your question. The American Veterinary Medical Association says it's safe to spay at 2 months old. However, we always recommend that you consult with your veterinarian about what's best for your pet. 


Did you tell your vet about this ? I would proceed with spaying/neutering because no matter how cute kittens and puppies are many of them won't get homes due to overpopulation. I'm getting my dog spayed tmrw and even though I did want her to have pups I'm proud for choosing surgery instead. Think of that before second guessing and the skin problem was probably caused by something other than the surgery.

Katie keogh

My chihuahua x papillon got neutered today he is 7 months old the vet told us not to feed him till tomorrow is this normal I'm only asking because he keep scratching his bowl and he does that when he wants more food ? Is it ok to feed him ?


Hi Katie, we always recommend you follow your veterinarian's advice. Each situation is different, and your veterinarian makes recommendations based on what's best for your pet.


Your answers are lame.


Hi, I apologize you aren't satisfied with our answers. Because we are not licensed veterinarians, we are unable to provide medical advice about specific situations. It's always best to consult your veterinarian to make sure your pet gets the proper care he or she needs. 

- Karilynn G., PetSmart Charities online communications team


How many days do I have to wait to give my dog a bath after?


Hi Jontu, your veterinarian will be able to best advise you when it's safe to give your dog a bath after his surgery.


my dogs go spayded and nueturded today i picked them up @2:30 how long should i wait to give them there medicine


Hi Alexis, I'm happy to hear you fixed your pet. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you when to give your dog his or her medicine. 


I read all these ppl issues about concerns of pet being neutered / spayed but yet u can't help thm omg.. U have this site up.. My dog is 5 was spayed 2 MO ago she's fine however she got an infection frm inside stitch but now on antibiotic sometimes this is normal incase anyone has same issue.. JS


Hi Kimberly, specific questions about a pet's health should be answered by a veterinarian to ensure his or her safety. You may notice this blog post was written by a guest author. The PetSmart Charities online communications team handles responses to these comments, so we are not able to provide medical advice. Thank you for your  understanding. 




I can't believe these people are asking these kinds of questions. Some are answered in the post, too. After one of those vet-related questions they should see the answer explains that you can't answer those types of questions! And then insult you. I swear, people just amuse me. Daily.
Any who...THANKS FOR THE POST ...It answered my question regarding a bit of water overnight is ok night before surgery. I appreciate the guest's information.


I agree... all answers are ... just call your vet... joke


My 1 year old Pitbull husky mix is getting spayed tmrw. Is there anything specific I need to feed her and will her personality change??


Hi Claire, please reach out to your veterinarian about what food is best for your pet. Generally, a spay/neuter surgery might have a positive effect on your pet’s behavior. Spaying or neutering your pet is an important part of responsible pet ownership. Male unneutered dogs experience frustration because they can’t mate, which can lead to aggression. Unspayed female dogs attract unwanted attention every 6 months. From a psychological and biological point-of-view, spay/neuter surgery is the best thing for your pet.


Hi, my 4 month old puppy was neutered yesterday and he seemed ok when I took him home. He slept and he was starving, so he ate a normal bowl of food and water. He had no problems going to the bathroom and all those things continue today (the day after his surgery). 2am early this morning he woke up crying so I took him outside to relieve himself and then brought him into bed with me. He was shaking and not fully sleeping. I know he has to be in some pain, but even now he's still shaking. I feel bad and would like to know if there is something I can do for him. The Vet that did the procedure said he won't need pain meds to just make sure to keep the cone on him and keep his incision clean. Any advise?


Hi Jeanine, I'm sorry to hear your dog appears to be in pain. You should contact your veterinarian directly to find out if he needs medical attention. 


Hi, my 1 year old dog got spayed about two weeks ago, she now has congestion and is hard for her to breathe due to her nose being so stuffed up. She has already been prescribed two anti biotics, both have not worked and it's getting worse. Is this something that happens after a spaying?


Hi Raychel, you should contact your veterinarian immediately if you have any concerns about your pet's health after her spay surgery.


Sounds like aspiration pneumonia. I hope hes ok :-\


Just got my 10 month old kitten spayed today, how soon can she take her pain meds? She still seems groggy, but I don't want her to be in pain in the middle of the night.


Hi April, your veterinarian should provide instructions on when your kitten needs her pain medication. 

Loretta Stapler

We have a kitten who will be 1 yr old. She has been spayed. She was entanglement with us, for the last 2 or 3 days she has been keeping to herself and sleeping alot,
My question is even spayed will she go thru any symptoms.


Hi Loretta, I apologize, but I'm not sure I understand your question. We always recommend you contact your veterinarian when you  have questions about your pet's health or behavior. Each pet is different, and they'll be able to best advise you.


My 11 month old cat has been spraying EVERYTHING in the house and hes really agressive. I finally got an appointment to get him neutered for tomorrow. Will the spraying typically stop soon after or does it take awhile. Is there any hope for a behavior change since hes been agressive so long?


Hi Trista, these behaviors either disappear or greatly diminish once your cat is fixed. Your veterinarian will be able to give you more guidance on your pet's individual behavior. 


My dog Luna is 2 yrs old and I took her to get spayed on the 22nd of March ,today is the first if Aprils. She doesn't eat or drink her water but she has no problem eating treats. Today she through up a yellow foam. Should I be worried she's not eating actual dog food and should I call her vet?



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