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Caring For Your Pet After Surgery

Thank you for spaying or neutering your pet! If you have questions about post-surgery pet care, please read our FAQs below. 

Spaying or neutering is one of the greatest gifts you can provide your pet, your family and your community. These procedures not only help control pet overpopulation, but they may also prevent medical and behavioral problems with your pet. So, they allow pets to lead longer, healthier and happier lives.

How long should I keep the e-collar on my pet?

7-10 days.

When you pick up your pet, they will be wearing an e-collar or cone. To prevent them from licking, chewing and damaging their surgical incision, they must wear their cone for the next 7 days. It is important that your pet wear it to prevent infection or the incision from splitting open.

puppy in a cone

How do I know if the surgical incision site is infected?

Check the incision site twice daily for best post-surgery pet care. Make sure there is no drainage coming out of the site and redness and swelling are minimal. The incision may have scabbing since the body is naturally closing the incision with the help of the surgical glue. Do not allow your pet to lick or chew at the incision site.  Doing so may cause infection and cause the incision site to split open.

What is the small green line that is next to the incision site?

We gave your pet a small green tattoo near their incision to show they are fixed. If they are ever lost, this tattoo will let the finder or shelter know that your pet doesn’t need spay/neuter surgery. Once your pet’s fur grows back, the tattoo will be less visible. 

How much and how frequently should I feed my pet after surgery?

The evening your pet comes home, feed them ¼ of their normal amount of food as your pet may vomit. Their stomach may not be able to handle their normal amount of food immediately after surgery.

The following morning, increase food to the normal amount and frequency of feeding. Your pet’s appetite should return gradually within 24 hours after their surgery. Do not change your pet’s diet or give them any kind of human food to entice them to eat. This could mask any surgical complications and could cause additional vomiting and diarrhea. 

Can my pet play outside or with other pets?

Not for the next 7-10 days.

Plan to keep your pet calm for the next 7-10 days while they heal. Keep pets indoors where they can stay clean, dry, and warm. Also, avoid letting them run, jump, play, swim or other strenuous activity.

Take dogs on short leash walks to use the restroom. Avoid letting dogs run loose or unattended in your backyard. If you have multiple pets, keep your pet that had surgery separated from the others for the next 7-10 days. Your other pets may want to run or play and could lick the incision site.

If your female pet was in heat at the time of surgery, keep her away from males for 2 weeks. You may notice a blood-tinged discharge from the vulva for a few days. This is normal.

Can I bathe or groom my pet?

Not for the next 7-10 days.

Your pet’s spay or neuter incision is closed with surgical glue.  Water dissolves the glue and opens the incision. Therefore, avoid bathing your pet and keep them out of water for the next 7-10 days. Also, avoid grooming your pet during this time, as this could irritate their incision and lead to infection or complications.

What kind of cat litter should I use?

To prevent irritating the incision, use a pellet-type litter like Feline Pine™ or Purina Yesterday’s News for 4 days. Alternatively, you can use shredded paper in your cat’s litter box instead.

How do I administer the medicine that was provided to me?

We injected your pet with pain medication that lasts for 24 hours.  Therefore, please avoid giving them any other pain medicine. If you requested extra pain medicine, we gave you 3 syringes for dogs and 6 syringes for cats.  Begin using these the day after surgery. 

Give your dog 1 syringe per day for the 3 days following surgery. Remember, do not give additional pain medication the same day of their surgery.

Give your cat 1 syringe in the morning and 1 syringe in the evening for the 3 days following their surgery. 

Do I need to schedule a follow-up appointment?

For the best pet care after surgery, we recommend a post-operative exam within 7-to-10 days to ensure the incisions have healed

How do I know if I have an emergency?

It’s normal for some dogs to have a slight cough for a few days after surgery. However, if your pet is exhausted more than 24 hours after surgery, has diarrhea or is vomiting, see your vet.

What should I do if I have an emergency?

If your pet had surgery at the:

LifeLine Community Animal Center
  • 3180 Presidential Dr, Atlanta, GA 30340
  • Bring your pet in during business hours, Mon – Thurs, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
  • After hours, you may take your pet to Village Vets, 217 N. McDonough St., Decatur, a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital.
LifeLine College Park Spay & Neuter Clinic
  • 2533 Sullivan Rd College Park, GA 30337
  • Bring your pet in during business hours, Mon – Thurs, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM.
  • After business hours, call Union City Veterinary Medical Center & Emergency Clinic, 6702 Shannon Pkwy, Union City, at 770.964.0700.

LifeLine will only cover costs related to the spay or neuter surgery emergency. We are unable to cover costs for services that are unrelated to your pet’s spay or neuter surgery. We cannot guarantee that you will be reimbursed if you visit another emergency facility. 

If you have questions or concerns about your pet’s recent spay/neuter surgery that weren’t answered above, please email Thank you for spaying or neutering your pet!

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