Castration is one of the most common operations in the veterinary clinic. Doctors constantly repeat that it is an easy, low-traumatic procedure that will not cause the dog any trouble. But how does a male dog’s recovery from castration actually go? Is it necessary to leave the pet in the hospital, for how long?
I have personally encountered owners who were willing to stay home on their next vacation to take care of their pet after surgery. They were very worried about complications. This couple would call me almost every day to let me know how Tyson had eaten, pooped, taken his collar off, taken a walk. It began to annoy me, because the dog was young and healthy, the surgery went perfectly, and I gave detailed written recommendations. Now I am ashamed of myself. The owners of that chihuahua were puzzled about one thing – the welfare of the dog. And how would they know, really, what was normal and what was not. General anesthesia and stitches can be scary and embarrassing when you’ve never dealt with it before.
So in addition to the article about the pros and cons of neutering a male dog, I wrote this “guide”. How a dog’s recovery should take place, and what complications are possible.
The technique of castration of male dogs is different from that of rabbits or cats, there is no comparison of these surgeries. There is only one thing in common: if both testicles are in the scrotum (a male dog is not cryptorch), castration is not an abdominal operation.
Why-why are we going to the clinic?
A very important point: the surgeon should not cut through the skin of the scrotum. There are many nerve endings and even more blood vessels. The incision is made “along the white line” in front of the scrotum, and both testes are removed through it. A ligature is placed over the feeding vessel and the spermatic cord, and it slips into the pelvic cavity. The skin wound is sutured.
The suture can be cosmetic (all the threads are inside the skin, gradually resorbed) or removable, external. It depends on the skill of the surgeon, the availability of suture material, and how the surgery will go. I never tell the owners in advance exactly what the “makeup” will be. There are times when the skin is too loose and diverges, sometimes you need to “pinch” an external suture to a bleeding skin vessel. If the removable sutures are neatly placed, they will not cause any problems.
The whole operation lasts about 15-20 minutes. But the dog will be in the operating room longer. This is due to the fact that you have to shave-wash-disinfect the skin, isolate the area with an operating field, and do local anesthesia. After the surgery, you have to wait until the patient starts to wake up. Only then is the pet taken out to its owners – or placed in a cell in the hospital. As it is customary there.
About the types of anesthesia would have to write a separate article. Therefore there are no single recommendations. After gas (inhalation) anesthesia you will receive your dog almost fully conscious. If intravenous anesthesia (propofol) was used, the animal also regains consciousness within half an hour.
Intramuscular anesthesia is another matter. If you don’t use a special drug to get the dog out of anesthesia (Antisedan, Antimedin, Alzan), the animal will be “drunk” for a long time. This is the kind of unconscious patient that needs constant supervision.
Labrador wakes up after anesthesia
Don’t try to pick up your dog right away. If the dog is still asleep, it is much safer to put it on a flat surface, on its side. Doctors pull the tongue out of the mouth with it hanging sideways. It can be moistened with a wet hand so that it does not dry out. Upon awakening, vomiting may occur, though it is almost non-existent with a proper starvation diet.
The dog should breathe smoothly and deeply. Particular care should be taken to monitor breathing in brachiocephalic breeds. In a bulldog or pug, the long palate can block the entrance to the trachea. A half-asleep dog will be quietly panting and only by the purple color of his tongue will the owner know it is time to sound the alarm.
When a dog wakes up from anesthesia, he may behave completely inappropriately – not recognizing his owner, biting the hand that strokes his face. Some dogs begin to bark and whine, not because they are in pain, but because of the excitement of the nervous system.
The dog will try to get up, fall down, twitch his legs. It is very important to prevent injury. Do not put the pet on a slippery floor, encourage activity. The dog is reassured with a voice and is seated, not allowed to thrash around. Decorative dogs are gently picked up.
Large dogs are put to sleep on the floor
If clinic facilities permit, owners should not be left alone with a pet that has not fully recovered from anesthesia. He should always be supervised by staff.
No matter what kind of anesthesia was used, the dog’s body temperature drops during surgery. The smaller the dog is, the more he cools down. If the clinic uses special warmers, that’s wonderful, but it’s also very important to make sure that your dog is not cold after he wakes up. Be sure to bring a warm fleece blanket to wrap or cover your dog. Feel his paws and ears – how cold are they?
Set up a cozy nest at home, avoid drafts. Warmth and rest are the best conditions for a male dog to recover from castration.
Do not leave the dog on the bed/couch! Movement coordination after anesthesia can be impaired, with the risk of injury. Only on the floor!
Labrador comes to his senses after castration
It is not necessary to rush to feed or drink the pet, and you can not pour something into the mouth by force. Let water be freely available, he can drink it if he wants to. Your doctor will tell you when you can feed him, but recommendations vary according to the type of anesthesia used. The minimum starvation diet is 4 hours (after inhalation anesthesia), 6-8 hours after intravenous, and 10-12 hours after intramuscular.
Give your pet a quarter instead of a full portion. If he does not vomit within an hour, feed another quarter. This is enough. The next time you feed him, you can give him a full portion.
The main rule is no exotic treats. Wanting to comfort or pamper the dog, the owners sometimes buy expensive canned goods or allow them to eat a piece of sausage. The only thing you will achieve is disruption of the digestive system. The food should be habitual. If he ate dry food, let him eat it, no need to soak him. The dog had his testes removed, not his teeth.
On the first day, walks are purely sanitary in nature. You have to pee, poop and go home. Until the stitches heal, the dog will be led on a leash. Games with other dogs and active games should be postponed.
If there are no medical indications, the scrotum is not removed when neutering a male dog. Immediately after the operation, this leather pouch remains empty. Doctors may place an ice pack on the scrotum for a short time to cause vasoconstriction.
Don’t worry about aesthetics – in a few months the skin will magically tighten. Where there were testicles, there will be a smooth spot.
Bulldog after castration
True, it takes time. And the body does not tolerate any emptiness and seeks to fill it. Therefore, lymph may accumulate in the scrotum. On the third or fourth day it looks as if the testes are back in their place! This is normal.
Sometimes the swelling can be too much, painful. This happens in several cases:
- Blood clots accumulated in the scrotum because a vessel had been damaged and not ligated.
- An infection got into the wound and inflammation started.
- The suture material is rejected (the latter situation is very rare, usually it is all the same in violation of sterility).
In which case you should see a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible:
- The scrotum is purplish or livid in color;
- The swelling is so severe that the scrotum is larger than before the surgery, the skin is stretched;
- discomfort when walking in the dog, signs of soreness.
The doctor may prescribe novocaine blocks with antibiotics or systemic antibiotics, and sometimes a surgical wound revision (under local anesthesia) is required.
This Labsky (mongrel Labrador and Husky) was neutered at 7 months
I do not prescribe any treatment of the suture after a male dog is neutered. The less people get into it, the better. This statement is true for a cosmetic suture. It cannot be drenched with iodine or green, so as not to burn the edges of the skin. The maximum that can be recommended – is to apply every 2-3 days, antiseptic spray that creates a protective film (Aluminum, Alu-spray, Second Skin). But buying it for two or three treatments is not advisable.
Dalmatian wakes up after surgery
If you have skin stitches, you need to take care of them. But also gentle, without fanaticism. The task of the owners – to ensure that the threads do not stick to the skin or to each other. To do this, it is enough to wipe the seam once a day with an aqueous chlorhexidine solution, removing the crusts.
Sometimes iodine is prescribed, but then the 5% alcohol solution is diluted 1:1 with boiled water or saline solution.
No ointment should be used until the stitches are removed, unless an ointment has been prescribed by a veterinarian. You can be sure of the healing properties of panthenol or levomecol, but the ointment base itself is not suitable for treating the suture.
While the skin is healing, you should not bathe your dog. If your pet flopped in a puddle on a walk and the dirt got on the seam, you need to rinse it thoroughly with chlorhexidine or aqueous solution of furacilin (one tablet per glass of boiled water).
Not allowing the stitches to lick is the most important recommendation you’ll get from your vet. For bitches after castration, it may be enough to wear a blanket. But it is almost impossible to cover the area where the stitch is after a male dog is neutered with a cloth. The panties come off instantly and also interfere with going to the toilet.
Pomsky looks amazing in these briefs, but they won’t help protect the seam!
There are special postoperative tights – they fit tightly around the body and have a hole for the penis. But the most reliable means of protection remains the collar.
Special dog blanket
Collars come in different qualities and materials. You can choose the appropriate model and size yourself before the scheduled surgery. Plastic cones are not expensive, but large dogs can break such “decoration”.
This beagle looks very unhappy in his collar
Pillow collars are more comfortable for the dog, but are rarely available.
Postoperative cushion collar
The collar should be on the dog 24 hours a day! Myths about the therapeutic properties of dog saliva sometimes cause owners to disregard the doctor’s instructions. They feel sorry for the pooch. But after the licked stitches fester and fall apart, the “pity” instantly moves to the bee’s ass. For then the wound will take several times longer to heal, requiring daily treatments and a course of antibiotics.
Double protection: collar + tights
If the doctor has skin stitches after castration, the collar must be worn until the stitches are removed (usually 10-12 days). After the doctor removes the threads, he will assess the condition of the suture and tell you how many more days to wear the cap. Usually it is another 1 day to allow the holes from the threads to heal.
If the suture is cosmetic, in the absence of inflammation, 7-10 days is enough for complete healing.
The collar must not be removed before the stitches are removed!
I often hear “he doesn’t lick there at all,” “he can’t reach it,” and “I’ll watch him. As much as veterinarians love to prescribe a protective collar, owners resist it stubbornly. Don’t. Put up with a week of strict regimentation so you can forget about it forever.
If you don’t have a follow-up appointment, it’s up to you to decide when to remove the collar. Take it off when you see pink, healthy skin at the seam. The suture should be dry and clean, and the fur should be starting to grow back.
The doctor examines the postoperative suture
The most important thing is to keep a close eye on your pet on the 3rd-4th day after surgery. During this time the shaved skin begins to itch, the stitch itself itches as it begins to heal, plus the scrotum swells.
Only the doctor who performed the surgery can prescribe medication to a male dog after castration. I sometimes do not prescribe anything – if the dog was young and the incision was tiny. In the clinic, the dog receives an anesthetic that lasts for a day and a prolonged antibiotic. If the surgery was done in a sterile operating room, that’s enough.
If castration was performed for medical reasons (e.g., prostatitis), or there was an abdominal intervention (cryptorchus), a course of antibiotics may be required.
Painkillers are also prescribed at the doctor’s discretion for the first 1-3 days after surgery.
Most dogs show no signs of soreness after surgery
After the removal of the testes, the hormone levels in the body change gradually. Therefore, within 1-2 months after castration you can feed your pet the same things you fed before the operation. And in the future the diet will not have to change dramatically. Your task is to keep an eye on the total amount of calories, as the risk of obesity in males increases after castration.
A neutered male can be fed both natural food and quality dry food.
If you read an article like this, you might not want to take your pet to a surgeon at all. But the truth is that normally a male dog’s recovery after castration is quick and unnoticeable. The dog is sad as long as he has to wear “that shameful thing” (I mean the protective collar). As early as 2-3 days after surgery, the dog should eat, drink, sleep, and play as usual.
The pet will not require any specific care, only limited physical activity and wearing a collar.