Unless you’re considering breeding your dog, getting them neutered is the responsible thing to do. The only downside is the fact that it can be a little inconvenient since your dog will require more attention over the next few days and weeks.
One of my main questions we get when it comes to this topic is, “how soon can I walk my dog after neutering?” That’s an excellent question, but unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to wait 14 days to be on the safe side. However, some dogs recover quickly and can go on walks within 3-4 days. Other dogs take a little longer than 14 days to recover fully.
We will go over a timeline of what to expect after your dog gets neutered, but keep in mind the timeline is just a rough estimate. It’s important to listen to the guidelines provided by your vet. After all, they did the surgery and know what’s best.
If it’s only been a few days and your dog is itching to go on a walk, be sure the read the end of this article where we talk about how to keep your dog sane until you’re able to take them on a walk again.
Risks of Walking Your Dog Too Early
I know some of you might be tempted to walk your dog early (I know I was). If you’re thinking of walking your dog before the vet recommends, consider the following risks.
Increased Swelling: Swelling not only delays the recovery process but will also increase the pain your dog is experiencing.
Opening The Wound: When a dog is active before the incision has had time to close, you’ll risk opening the wound. This will not only hurt your dog, but you’ll have to pay more money to get the wound stitched back up.
Infection: Dogs are at high risk of infection after surgery. That’s when the body is trying to heal and has a much harder time fighting off harmful bacteria. When you take your dog outside, you’re exposing them to plenty of bacteria that could lead to an infection.
Delayed Healing: When a dog goes on a walk, they break down and fatigue their muscles. This means the body now has to switch focus to helping the muscles recover, which slows down the process of healing the wound.
Nausea: If your dog is on pain medication, they’ll most likely get sick if you try to take them on a walk. It’s best to wait until they’re no longer on their pain meds.
Increased Pain: Any of the reasons above can lead to increased pain. But even if your dog doesn’t open the wound or get an infection, they’re still going to be very sore from the surgery, and moving might cause pain.
As you can tell, it’s best to wait until your dog is completely healed before taking them on a walk again.
Timeline of What to Expect After Neutering
Here is a timeline of what you can expect after the first 10 days of surgery. This timeline should give you a better idea of when you can take your dog on a walk again. It will also help you understand what they’re going through each day and how you can take better care of them.
First 24 Hours
The first 24 hours after surgery is when your dog will be the most uncomfortable. It’s your job to do what you can to keep them as comfortable as possible. You’ll also notice they’re still a little loopy from the anesthetics. This will cause some dogs to get sick and throw up. It’s important to check up on your dog every hour, if possible, to make sure they aren’t getting sick.
You’ll want to keep a water bowl next to your dog at all times. Each time you check up on them, make sure they still have water. However, you don’t want to feed them quite yet. It’s best to wait until the anesthetics wear off.
At this point, going on a walk outside is entirely out of the question. This isn’t too big of a deal since your dog probably won’t have any desire to go on a walk within 24 hours after getting neutered.
At this point, your dog might want to start walking again, but the risk of infection is still high, so it’s a good idea to keep them indoors. Some walking around is ok IF they are up for it, but make sure you don’t force it.
If they start getting a little too active, make sure you calm them down right away. Also, make sure you check up on the incision to make sure there is no bleeding.
Going on a walk outside is still out of the question 2-3 days after surgery. Even if your dog seems like they’re up for it, the risk of infection is too high. Plus, dogs that have a high prey drive might see something and instinctively chase after it.
Day 3 – First Post Surgery Checkup
This is when you should have your first post-surgery checkup with the vet. They’ll be able to answer some of the questions you have as well as provide you more information on when you can start walking your dog.
Remember to listen to the advice of your vet. Even if they say the incision looks like it’s healing nicely, that doesn’t mean it’s suddenly ok to return to life as normal.
For days 4-9, you should have more specific information from your vet. Your vet might recommend taking some indoor walks just to get the body moving again. They may also recommend keeping movement to a minimum. Every dog heals at a different rate, so don’t push it here.
On days 4-9, the same rules apply as day 2. Make sure they aren’t playing too rough. Keep an eye on the incision to make sure it isn’t bleeding.
Day 10 – Second Post Surgery Checkup
Around day 10 is when you should have your second checkup. At this point, the vet should either give you the green light to return to normal activity with your dog, or he will tell you to wait a little longer and schedule one more checkup a few days later.
If you get the green light, great! Continue life as usual. If you’ve been told to wait a few more days, please listen to your vet.
At this point, most dogs will get the green light to go on a walk.
Keeping Your Dog Sane After Neutering
Your dog might start to go a little insane during the 10-14 days of no walks. After all, you’ve taken away one of their favorite activities, and they have no idea why. The good news is there are a few things you can do that will help keep them sane during this time and distract them from the fact that they haven’t taken any walks outside.
Take Them on Walks In The House
After day 3, it should be ok to take your dog on a walk inside. I know this might not seem venturous, but if you treat it like a real walk, your dog will likely get just as excited. Put them on a leash and let them explore the house. Take them in rooms they usually aren’t allowed in, let them sniff around and explore wherever their nose will take them.
Hide Some Treats
Another thing you can do to stimulate their sense of smell is to hide some treats throughout the house next time you take them on an inside walk. They’re going to love exploring room to room, following the scent of the treats. However, it’s very important to keep them on a leash when you do this, or they might take off running looking for those treats.
Use a Food Puzzle
Mental stimulation is important to prevent your dog from getting bored. One of the best ways to mentally stimulate your dog is to use a food puzzle. Nothing motivates a dog more than food! There are an endless number of food puzzle products on the market. You can order a few different ones. Once it looks like your dog gets bored with one, switch them over to a different one. Mental stimulation is a great way to get your dogs mind off the fact that they aren’t going on walks.
So When Can You Walk Your Dog After Neutering?
There’s no “one size fits all” answer to this question. The general rule of thumb is 14 days, but your dog may be able to go on walks sooner, or they may need even more time to heal. You should have a 3 day post-surgery checkup scheduled with your vet. On this checkup, ask the vet when you can take your dog on a walk and then LISTEN TO HIS ADVICE! If you’re tempted to take your dog on a walk before the recommendation by your vet, remember the risks talked about above.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.