Can Dogs Be Left Alone After Getting Neutered?

dog wearing cone after getting neutered

You do not want to leave your dog alone within the first 12-24 hours after neutering. Although it’s a typical procedure, you still want to keep a close eye on your dog and look for signs of infection such as vomiting and disorientation. After the first 24 hours, you can leave your dog alone for short periods of time. 

If your dog is about to get neutered or is just getting home from surgery, you might wonder how long until you can leave him alone and resume your activities outside the home.

Below, we’ll break down the healing process, when it’s safe to leave the dog alone, and how to make sure recovery goes smoothly.

The First Day After Procedure

It’s advised to keep a close eye on your dog during the first 12-24 hours after surgery of any kind, including neutering.

Do not leave the dog alone overnight the first night after surgery.

Below are some common things to look out for on the first day after surgery.

Reaction to Anesthetic

Most dogs will be groggy for a day or two following their operation as the anesthetic wears off, which is completely normal.

However, there are also rare instances in which dogs have adverse reactions to the anesthetic once they get home, such as:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • disorientation
  • behavioral changes (such as biting for no apparent reason)

Keep a close eye on your dog during the first day after surgery to ensure that the anesthetic is wearing off okay and not causing him any problems.

Reopening of Surgical Site

There’s always the possibility of a surgical site reopening before it heals, especially on the first day after surgery.

This is another reason it’s a good idea to stay with your dog during the first 24 hours.

On the first day, he’s likely to sleep a lot rather than running around and licking or chewing at the wound. But even turning the wrong way in his sleep can cause the wound to reopen, so keep a close eye on the incision site.

Signs of Internal Problems

Neutering is a straightforward procedure. However, any time someone is cutting into your pet, there’s a risk of unintentionally causing internal damage.

If there’s anything wrong with your dog internally due to the surgery, symptoms are likely to show up within the first day.

Excessive Pain

Your vet will probably give you antibiotics to prevent infection, as well as painkillers after the surgery.

Although some soreness is expected, if your dog seems to be in severe pain even with the painkillers, there’s a good chance that something is seriously wrong.

If this is the case, call your vet right away.

Inability to Regulate Body Temperature

As dogs are recovering from surgery and the anesthetics slowly leave their system, they may have trouble regulating their body temperature.

This is most likely to be a problem within 24 hours after surgery, so make sure you’re on hand to check for excessive panting or shivering, so you can adjust the temperature accordingly to keep your dog comfortable.

Days 2-14 After Procedure

Once your dog has made it through the first day after being neutered, the chances of a serious complication are drastically reduced. At this time, it’s safe to leave your dog alone for short periods of time.

However, it’s still important to take his healing seriously so he can recover quickly with no problems.

While you don’t have to stay with your dog every minute of the day for the 2 weeks, it will take for him to fully recover. There are a few things you can do to make sure the healing process goes as smoothly as possible.

Keep the Wound Clean and Dry

The most common complication after a simple surgery like neutering is an infection of the wound. You can prevent this by keeping the surgical site clean and dry.

This means no bathing during the healing process, so give your dog a bath the night before surgery.

Keeping the dog out of dirt and mud is also important, which shouldn’t be hard since he’ll need to be on exercise restriction during this time, as we’ll see below.

Give the Dog Space

While your dog’s recovering, he may sleep more than usual for the first few days, although as the anesthetic wears off, this will lessen.

Provide your dog with a quiet place to rest and sleep, away from children and other pets.

Unless your vet says so, he won’t need to be confined to a crate or kept completely away from others, but providing him the option, especially in a busy household, is a good idea.

Keep the Dog Calm

While the incision is healing, it’s important that the dog does not exert itself in such a way that the wound might reopen.

This includes:

  • running
  • roughhousing
  • jumping up on furniture

Keep your dog calm and prevent running around. This might mean providing more crate time, separating him from other pets, or keeping him leashed to you so he can’t run around.

You’ll also want to be careful during walks. Take him on short, slow walks away from cars and animals that he might chase.

Use an Elizabethan Collar (Cone of Shame)

It’s important to keep your dog from biting or licking his wound, which he’s likely to do since it will itch as it heals.

The hairs on the shaved area around the incision will also grow back, causing itching.

Naturally, the dog will try to relieve his discomfort, and the only way he knows how is by biting or licking the area. This is where Elizabethan collars are handy.

Not all dogs need them since some don’t mess with their incision. But definitely make sure that your dog won’t do so if you’re not going to use an e-collar.

If you opt for the so-called cone of shame, make sure that you give the dog enough room if he’s confined in a crate or other small space since trying to turn around when the collar’s bumping into things is stressful and uncomfortable for the dog.

Monitor the Wound

Check the wound at least twice a day for signs of reopening or infection.

If a problem occurs with the surgical site, the sooner you catch it, the less likely it will turn into a bigger deal.

Give Him a Recovery Bed

If your dog is used to sleeping in your bed or on a sofa, it might be a good idea to make him a temporary bed on the floor while he heals, depending on the dog’s size.

Even a simple action like running and jumping onto a bed or couch is enough for a wound to reopen, causing a lot of pain and most likely a trip back to the vet for stitches.

Special Recovery Diet

Your dog’s digestive system may be sensitive for a few days after the surgery, and he may have a reduced appetite.

This should go away quickly, but it’s a good idea to have lighter meals available for him for the first day or two. Some good meals can be made from the following ingredients:

  • chicken
  • turkey
  • rice
  • sweet potato
  • bone broth

Monitor Closely During The First 24 Hours

As you can see, it’s not a good idea to leave your dog alone for the first 12-24 hours after neutering, but leaving him alone for short periods after that is usually fine.

Of course, talk with your vet if you have any concerns since they’ll be aware of any potential complications that your dog might be susceptible to.

Be sure that you understand all your vet’s instructions before leaving the office and call them for clarification or with any concerns as your dog heals.

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