Post-Operation FAQs
Post-Operation FAQs

Thank you for spaying or neutering your pet! Spaying or neutering is one of the greatest gifts you can provide your pet, your family, and your community. These routine medical procedures not only help control pet overpopulation, but they may also prevent medical and behavioral problems from developing, allowing your pet to lead a longer, healthier, and happier life.

If you have any questions related to your recent spay or neuter surgery, please read through our FAQs below prior to contacting our clinic. This will help ensure that those with true emergencies are able to be helped in a timely manner.


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 elizabethan collar, also known as an e-collar or a cone. To prevent them from licking, chewing and potentially damaging their surgical incision, they must wear their cone at all times for the next 7-10 days while they heal. It is absolutely imperative that your pet wear their e-collar during this recovery period to prevent infection or the incision from splitting open.


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

It is best to check the incision site twice daily. There should be no drainage coming out of the site and redness and swelling should be minimal. The incision may have scabbing, as 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 as this is likely to cause infection and cause the incision site to split open.


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

Your pet was given a small green tattoo near their incision to indicate they are fixed. If they are ever lost, this tattoo will ensure that the finder or shelter knows they do not need to undergo spay or 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 same evening of bringing home your pet, only feed ¼ of the 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, you may increase 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 and please do not give them table scraps, milk or 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 within the next 7-10 days.

Plan to keep your pet calm for the next 7-10 days while they heal. Pets must be kept indoors where they can stay clean, dry, and warm and avoid running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity.

Dogs will need to go on short leash walks to use the restroom. Avoid letting dogs run loose or unattended in your backyard. If you have multiple pets in your home, we recommend keeping them separate from your pet that recently had surgery for the next 7-10 days. Your other pets may want to run or play and in some cases, they could lick the incision site.

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


Can I bathe or groom my pet?

Not within the next 7-10 days.

Your pet’s spay or neuter incision is closed with surgical glue. Because the surgical glue will dissolve in water and the incision will open, it is imperative that your pet is not bathed and does not engage in any water activities for the next 7-10 days. Also, please do not groom your pet within this time frame, as this could irritate their incision and lead to infection or complications.


What kind of cat litter should I use?

To help prevent irritation with the surgical incision site, use a pellet-type litter such as Feline Pine™ or Purina Yesterday’s News, or shredded paper in your cat’s litter box for 4 days.


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

Your pet received an injection of pain medication that lasts for 24 hours. If you requested additional pain medication, please do not give it to your pet the same day of their surgery.

If you requested additional pain medication for your dog, you were provided with three syringes of medication. Give your dog one syringe per day for the three days following their surgery. Remember, do not give additional pain medication the same day of their surgery.

If you requested additional pain medication for your cat, you were provided with 6 syringes of medication. Give your cat 1 syringe in the morning and 1 syringe in the evening for the three days following their surgery.


Do I need to schedule a follow-up appointment?

We recommend a post-operative examination with your regular veterinarian 7 to 10 days after surgery to have the incision checked for complete healing and to discuss additional needs, follow-up care, and booster vaccinations.


How do I know if I have an emergency?

Dogs may have a slight cough for a few days after surgery; this is normal. Lethargy lasting for more than 24 hours post-surgery, diarrhea, or vomiting are not normal, and your pet should be taken to your regular veterinarian.


What should I do if I have an emergency?

If your pet had surgery at the Community Animal Center:

  • During business hours (Mon - Thurs, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM), please bring your pet to the LifeLine Community Animal Center clinic (3180 Presidential Dr, Atlanta, GA 30340).
  • Outside of business hours, you may take your pet to Village Vets (217 N. McDonough St., Decatur, GA 30030), a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital.

If your pet had surgery at the College Park Spay & Neuter Clinic:

  • During business hours (Mon - Thurs, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM), please bring your pet to the LifeLine College Park Spay & Neuter Clinic (2533 Sullivan Rd College Park, GA 30037).

  • Outside of business hours, call Union City Veterinary Medical Center & Emergency Clinic (6702 Shannon Pkwy, Union City, GA 30291) at 770.964.0700.

LifeLine will only cover costs related to the spay or neuter surgery emergency, but are unable to cover any 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.


To address questions or concerns related to your pet’s recent spay or neuter surgery not covered within these frequently asked questions, please reach out to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thank you for spaying or neutering your pet!

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Founded in 2002 and now managing DeKalb and Fulton County Animal Services, LifeLine Animal Project is the leading non-profit organization working to end the euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in metro Atlanta shelters. Together, we will make Atlanta a no-kill community.

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