What to Expect When Your Pet is Having Surgery

Provided here is information on the most common surgeries performed here at Southport Vet Center — leading with spays and neutering.  After reading this information, if you have any questions, please contact one of the Doctors here on staff.  If your pet’s condition or type of surgery is not detailed here, again please contact one of the Doctors.



For most dogs, we recommend spaying before the first heat, but if you think your dog has been in heat recently please advise the staff at check-in, as we may delay the surgery until it is safe to do so. Being in heat decreases wound healing, makes reproductive tissue more fragile and increases bleeding. None of this is conducive to surgery. In general, we want to be directly in between two heats, which for most dogs is 3 months after the start of a heat cycle. An ovariohysterectomy, or spay, is the surgical removal of a female pet’s reproductive organs (the ovaries and the uterus). The abdomen is shaved from her belly button to her groin. A 1-4 inch incision is made just below the belly button. The incision is then closed with 3 layers of stitches under the skin that will dissolve and will be absorbed by the body over time. A larger dog will also have external skin sutures or staples that will need to be removed in 10 days after surgery. If your dog is discharged the evening of surgery she will most likely be groggy and a little sore. Don’t feed that evening as your pet will tend to be a little nauseous and we don’t want vomiting to occur. Especially if you have chosen to take your pet home overnight she needs to be kept very quiet with limited stairs or jumping. You may notice that your pet’s front leg has been shaved. This shaved area is where the IV catheter was placed during surgery. It is important to keep her quiet for 10 days so that she does not open the incision or cause swelling. The incision needs to be checked 2 to 3 times daily. A small amount of inflammation and bruising is normal. There should never be excessive bruising or discharge. Your pet should seem quiet but normal — any excessive lethargy should be checked by us immediately. All dogs need to keep the Elizabethan collar on for the full 10 days — remember, incisions itch as they heal. She will be administered an anti-inflammatory and in some cases a sedative pain medication to facilitate keeping her quiet. After 10 days, the E-collar can come off as long as she does not lick and as long as everything looks healed. Some coughing is normal after the surgery, as the trachea may be irritated due to being intubated during the procedure.



In a dog neuter an incision is made just forward from the scrotum. The testicles are removed through this incision. The skin incision in most cases has dissolvable under the skin sutures. The scrotum in most cases remains and can swell or become bruised after surgery. This is normal as long as your pet is not bothered by it and if it does not seem excessive. The dog will go home with an E-collar to prevent licking and pain medication. Limit exercise and licking at site for 10 days. Give anti-inflammatory, Metacam, as directed. If your dog is very active, we may prescribe a sedative to allow proper healing to occur. You may notice that your pets’s front leg will be shaved. This is where his IV catheter was placed during surgery. Some coughing after the surgery is also normal due to the fact that they were intubated during their procedure.



Cat neuters are one of the quickest surgical procedures. The testicles are removed from a small skin incision in the scrotum. The skin incision on the scrotum is small enough so as not to require any stitches of any kind. Some swelling of the area is normal but should never be excessive. Limit activity for 7 days after procedure. Most cats do not need to wear an Elizabethan collar after the 1st few days, but we strongly recommend you take one home just in case there is excessive licking. An injection of Metacam, an anti-inflammatory, is given at the time of surgery. Buprenex, a narcotic pain reliever, is often dispensed for at home use to control pain, if needed.


Cryptorchidism (Retained Testicles)

Cryptorchidism is a condition in which a males’s testicle(s) have not descended (dropped) into the scrotum. This condition can occur on only one side or both. The surgery for cryptorchidism is more complicated than the usual neuter surgery because the cryptorchid testicle lies within the abdomen, but not always in the same location. In addition to the small incision to remove the descended testicle, which is above the scrotum, an incision in the abdomen may also need to be made to remove the cryptorchid testicle. The location of this incision is either midline or off center of the prepuce. Occasionally there are both incisions. The entire abdomen will be shaved for this procedure to ensure a clean field of surgery in the event that both incisions need to be made. After the testicles are removed through the incisions, sutures are placed in both incisions, sometimes external sutures are used and will need to be removed 10-14 days after the procedure. The recovery is generally two weeks of reduced activity. Pain medication will be sent home with him after the surgery, as well as an e-collar so that he cannot lick at his incision. Sedative pain relief may be prescribed if it is difficult to keep your pet quiet for 10-14 days. You may also notice that your pets’ front leg has been shaved. This is the area in which his IV catheter was placed for fluid therapy during his surgery. Some coughing after the surgery is also normal, due to tracheal irritation from being intubated during his procedure. Some swelling of the incision sites is typical but excessive bruising, inflammation or discharge should be checked by us.


Umbilical Hernias

An umbilical hernia is a condition in which abdominal contents (fat, intestines, etc.) protrude past the abdominal wall at the location where the umbilical cord was attached. The umbilical hernia is usually repaired at the time of your pet’s spay or neuter unless earlier surgical intervention is warranted. The abdomen is shaved from the bottom of the ribs to the groin area. The incision size depends on the size of the hernia but is usually 1-2 inches long in the area of the belly button. If a spay is performed at the same time, the incision may be extended an additional 1-2 inches. External sutures are usually used in addition to the dissolvable sutures, therefore your pet will need to come back in 7-10 days for suture removal. Recovery is generally two weeks of limited activity. An elizabethan collar should be kept on the entire time. A small amount of inflammation at the site is normal — excessive swelling, discharge or bruising needs to be checked. An anti-inflammatory will be prescribed. Additionally, a sedative pain reliever will be prescribed if it is difficult to keep your pet quiet for 10-14 days. A recheck appointment may be recommended after the surgery. The doctor will let you know at the time of your pet’s pick-up if that is needed.

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Southport Veterinary Center

2131 Post Road, Fairfield, CT 06824
Phone: (203)259-5295
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Email: news@southportvetcenter.com
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