When your dog gets neutered, you want to wait at least 10-14 days before getting the incision wet. This means you should wait about two weeks before giving your dog a bath after they get neutered. In the meantime, feel free to spot clean your dog.
Getting your dog neutered isn’t the most enjoyable experience in the world, but it’s an important part of responsible dog ownership. Equally important is making sure his recovery goes as smoothly as possible.
Your vet should give you verbal or written instructions about caring for your dog after his sterilization. Check with them first if you’re unsure about any aspect of surgery aftercare and follow the guidelines they provide.
Bathing a Dog After Neutering: General Guidelines
If you’re reading this ahead of the surgery to be prepared, you might consider giving the dog a bath the night before surgery so he’ll be able to go that much longer without one afterward.
It is advisable to wait ten days to two weeks after surgery before getting the incision wet. It’s important that the skin has healed completely before being submerged in water. If the incision gets wet, there’s an increased risk of infection.
Cleaning Your Dog Without a Bath
A dog recovering from surgery should be resting rather than playing, and definitely shouldn’t be exposed to conditions which will get him or his incision dirty.
However, if he’s managed to get dirty anyway (like dogs do), you’ll have to somehow clean him. Here are a couple options to clean your dog without getting his incision wet:
If your dog’s gotten into something dirty, it’s okay to spot clean him with wipes, a damp washcloth, or a spray bottle. Just focus on the areas that need cleaning, and avoid the surgical site.
If your dog doesn’t like water (especially if you use a spray bottle as punishment), take extra care not to spook or stress the dog out.
If need be, ask someone to help you distract or hold the dog to prevent him from running or otherwise hurt himself. Use positive reinforcements and treats to keep the experience as stress-free as possible.
If your dog isn’t especially dirty or covered with mud, brush some dry shampoo onto his coat. This will help keep him smelling like a dog that hasn’t been bathed in a while.
Be careful not to use it too much or too often. It can clump in the fur or cause dry skin. Test it on a small area first to see how well your dog’s skin handles it.
Bathing Your Dog Two Weeks After Neutering
Dogs usually don’t need baths more often than once a month, so don’t feel like you have to bathe the dog as soon as the two weeks following his neuter surgery are up.
Once you decide to bathe him, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the experience as pain-free as possible.
Be Careful of the Incision Site
When bathing your dog relatively soon after surgery, remember to be extra gentle near the incision. Surgical incisions can be sore for quite some time, even once they’ve healed.
Use Special Shampoo
Pet owners commonly use body wash or shampoo intended for humans on their pets, which seems logical enough.
However, dogs require their own shampoo since their skin has a different pH balance than ours. Using the wrong shampoo can cause dry skin or irritate skin with sensitivities – neither of which is ideal for a dog who’s recently been neutered.
Try to Make it Relaxing
Your dog’s been through enough, between physically recovering from surgery and changing his routine to accommodate the recovery without him understanding why.
Do what you can to make bath time a pleasant experience. Use lukewarm water in a gentle stream.
The direct stream from a showerhead can be scary and unpleasant for dogs, so either block it with your hand or use a container of water that you pour gently over him instead. Lathering the shampoo is a great time to give him a mini massage, which may help calm him.
Dry Him Completely
Use a towel or two to gently but completely dry the dog after a bath. Be careful of sensitive areas such as the incision.
It helps to have the towels handy before you begin the bath, so he’s not left shaking in the tub while you go search for some. This sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget when you’re focused on getting him into the tub to begin with.
Avoid using a hairdryer to dry your dog. Not only does this scare most dogs, but there’s a chance you’ll burn their skin.
Other Things to Keep in Mind Post-Surgery
Although neutering is a standard procedure with a low chance of complications, it’s still important to remember that your dog will require extra care for a few weeks after surgery.
The Incision Site
We’ve already stressed the importance of keeping the dog’s surgical incision clean and dry during recovery.
Besides keeping him away from water, this may involve putting him in an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from licking the wound or biting at the stitches.
You may also have to keep him away from other dogs while he’s healing since dogs sometimes lick each other’s wounds.
This will also prevent any roughhousing, causing the wound to open, or fights that may erupt if your dog is feeling groggy and defensive while the anesthesia wears off.
You’ll want to limit your dog’s movements as far as running and jumping to keep the incision from reopening. Keep this in mind if you have a small dog who needs to take a running leap to get onto the sofa.
Check the incision twice a day and monitor it for pus, discharge, a strong smell, or change in color. Report any of these symptoms to your vet immediately, as they may be signs of infection.
Dogs usually lose their appetite for the first day or two following surgery, so don’t be alarmed if he eats a little less than usual.
Many vets recommend feeding a light diet of chicken and rice for the first couple of days to prevent an upset stomach caused by the anesthesia.
If his appetite doesn’t return to normal within 24-48 hours, or if he’s throwing up, call your vet for advice.
Like humans, many dogs are groggy and maybe even a little grumpy in the first few days after surgery. Ensure your dog has a quiet place with no distractions where he can rest and sleep as much as needed.
Keep other dogs and small children away for the first day or two since he may not be feeling too friendly.
Dogs don’t understand surgery or the healing process, so there will likely come a point in his recovery where the dog has slept off the effects of the anesthesia and has minimal pain, but still needs to take it easy.
You must try to keep him from getting too rambunctious during this time. The last thing you want is for the incision to pop open. Try keeping your dog distracted with puzzle games and learning new (non-physically demanding) tricks.
Follow Your Vets Advice After Neutering
Your vet should provide you with all the information you need to care for your dog after neuter surgery. Be sure you understand everything in the instructions before leaving the vet’s office. Call them right away if you have questions or any complications arise.
If this is your first experience with caring for a pet post-surgery, do some research beforehand online, in books, or by talking to an expert. The more information you arm yourself with ahead of time, the better equipped you’ll be for anything that happens while your dog is recovering.
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