Spaying and neutering aftercare guide

Our spaying and neutering aftercare guide provides information about what you need to do to ensure your pet's recovery is as effective as possible.

9th March 2015

After spaying or neutering your pet, there are certain steps you need to take to ensure their recovery is as effective as possible.They may experience some discomfort, and there are side effects you need to look out for. Have a look at our Spaying and Neutering Aftercare Guide for more information.

Elizabethan collar

After the surgery your pet may be fitted with an Elizabethan collar, which is placed around the animals’ neck to prevent them from chewing their stitches. If it falls off, replace it immediately by leaving a space the size of two fingers between the neck and the collar tie so that it won’t be too tight. The collar needs to stick out around an inch and a half past your pet’s nose, otherwise it will be ineffective.

Dog wearing an operation collar


Make note of the incision’s appearance when you first bring your pet home, so you can monitor its progress over the following days. You need to check the wounds for any signs of bleeding or discharge, and also expect some hard swelling at the site. A small number of symptoms such as these may be normal after the operation. Any unpleasant smells coming from the incision could suggest infection, and you must prevent your pet from pulling at their stitches, as this could impede recovery. Look out for any other indication that something isn’t right, and if in doubt, contact your vet.

At home

Animals can feel disorientated and tired after the operation, so leave your pet alone to adjust. Ensure they are comfortable and warm with appropriate bedding, and provide fresh water. Expect them to sleep for a lot longer than usual following the operation, and consider whether to confine them to a particular room to avoid injury. It might also be best for them to sleep in a crate or carrier for the night, if they don’t already. Many people may not realise that cats can conceal pain and illness very well, so if your cat hides for around forty eight hours or more it may be because they are in too much pain. In such cases, immediately take them to see a vet.

Providing food for your pet immediately after the operation could cause them to suffer from stomach upset. Seek advice from your vet about when to start feeding them again, and how much to give them. You could also replace cat litter with shredded paper for a few days to prevent litter from getting stuck in the incisions.


You may be given painkillers to provide to your pet, but only do so at the vet’s discretion. Don’t give them any drugs other than those prescribed by a vet, and never give human medication to animals, as this can prove fatal. Newly spayed and neutered cats have low immune systems, so they are especially vulnerable to developing respiratory diseases, as well as others. Keep an eye on them to make sure everything appears normal.


Handle your pet as little as possible. They might be in pain and will need time alone to recuperate, whilst excessive handling could also affect the stitches. Take great care if you need to pick them up for any reason. You may notice that your pet seems more irritable or aggressive, but there is no need to worry as this will only be a temporary after-effect of the anaesthetic. To be safe and avoid any difficulties, ensure you separate young children and other pets from the animal.


Resting is essential for a few days following the operation, so your pet can’t partake in as much activity as usual. You should not allow them to do anything strenuous such as running, and play needs to be gentle. When walking, keep your pet on a lead at all times to stop them from exerting themselves. Jumping should also be avoided, so try to prevent your pet from leaping on and off furniture. Bear in mind their balance may be affected, so they could need help with certain activities such as climbing the stairs.

Bathing and swimming

Don’t bathe your pet or allow them to swim for around two weeks after the surgery, as water can cause the incision to open. Gently towel dry the site if it does get wet, and don’t apply any oils or dressing unless instructed by a vet, since this can slow the healing process. Keep pets indoors for a few days to prevent any potential complications. If the wound does become dirty, gently clean it with soapy water and cotton swabs. Don’t use cotton wool as the fibres can shed and get caught in the stitches or wound itself.

Side effects

Look out for any side effects after the operation, including but not limited to, vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties and trouble urinating. Watch out for any blood in the urine as well. It is also important to note any changes to your pet’s behaviour. Your vet will be able to inform you more about possible side effects your pet may experience.

Consult your vet for more information about how to care for your pet after spaying or neutering.

Insuring your pet is another way you can protect them. Animal Friends offer a range of policies for you to choose from.

More on our dog blog

Read more news articles, opinion pieces, reviews and personal stories behind our dogs on our blog. 


Need dog insurance?

Dog insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your dog gets injured or falls ill.


We know pets

Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
Our policyholders have helped donate over £7.8 million to more than 700 animal charities worldwide and by educating and inspiring others to act on current events and responsible pet ownership, Animal Friends is driving positive change for animal welfare and conservation.