Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."
Dr. Rachel Barrack, Veterinarian & Certified Veterinary Chinese Herbalist
Whether your dog was just spayed, neutered, or had a recent laceration repair, he/she will be sent home with an incision closed with stitches, sutures, staples, and/or suture glue. Your veterinarian should have provided you with aftercare instructions, but you still may have the following questions:
Sometimes, you aren't even given the opportunity to talk to your vet after your dog’s surgery because the team has limited time and other patients to attend to. Let's review some of the most important aftercare instructions for dog spays, neuters, and surgical procedures.
ALWAYS put an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) or cone on your dog when he/she is unsupervised after surgery.
Schedule the surgery on a day your dog can be supervised.
Set up a comfortable, quiet space for your dog to recover.
Keep your dog away from other dogs and household activity.
Leash walk for potty breaks and prevent jumping and running; no running or free play.
No jumping up and down from furniture. Lift your dog up and down onto the couch or bed. Do not leave them unattended. Barricade staircases.
Keep the wounds and stitches clean and dry (no bathing) unless otherwise instructed to do so.
Cones and E-Collars
Keep a cone or e-collar on at all times to prevent chewing, scratching, or licking.
Monitor the Incision
Monitor the incision for signs of infection (heat, swelling, pus, oozing, discharge).
Take Home Instructions
Only cover the incision or apply ointments if your vet advises you to do so.
Monitor your dog for behavioral changes (lethargy, panting, discomfort).
Keep your vet's contact and emergency numbers close by.
In general, within 10-14 days a dog's incision is capable of withstanding tension and stretching. Now, 10-14 days is the average healing time-frame for a typical spay, but activity should be resumed gradually, and the site should be monitored until your next vet visit.
Healing time depends on the surgical procedure, the suture material, suture absorption time, and your dog's health and age. Stitches generally last long enough to promote the healing of tissue. So, whether your dog received absorbable stitches, non-absorbable stitches, or staples, you will need to take good care of the area as it heals.
The moment an injury takes place (surgery is classified as an injury), the immune system activates white blood cells which mobilize to the incision site. The skin will redden, bruise, and swell, but over time, scar tissue will form. Did you know? Incisions heal side-to-side, so this means that a 4" incision will heal at the same rate as a 1" incision.
You may feel compelled to give your dog a bath, but you may want to hold off if your dog has an incision that has to heal. This also means preventing your dog's incision from getting wet in the rain. Do not apply creams, ointments, or disinfectants unless your vet told you to do so. Alcohol and hydrogen peroxide use is prohibited as these chemicals will damage the tissue. You can wipe your dog's body down with natural baby wipes or dog-approved wipes to keep them fresh (do not wipe around the surgical site).
Do not bathe your dog unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian.
Here are some things to watch for that may impair healing. Common causes for prolonged healing times include the following:
In some cases, a dog's body may reject stitches rather than absorb them, triggering inflammation or a suture reaction and a prolonged healing time. A suture reaction is an inflammatory response by the body to a "foreign substance." This reaction may present as localized inflammation. The body is reacting to the foreign substance by either trying to dissolve it, break it down, or push it out. You will often see draining tracts and/or heat and redness.
Abdominal surgeries are closed in layers, so several types of suture material might be used to close the incision. If the suture reaction is deep, your veterinarian may have to go in and replace the suture material with another type. If the suture reaction is superficial and easily accessible, it may be a simple matter of removing the sutures and using suture glue or surgical staples depending on the stage of healing.
It's important to consider the invasiveness and severity of your dog's procedure to gauge healing time (always follow your veterinarian's aftercare instructions):
There are different ways to close an incision in dogs. Just as you stitch pieces of cloth together, a dog's skin can be sutured with needle and thread. The thread is usually made of synthetic material, but non-synthetic suture exists for specific procedures. Stitches can be absorbable or non-absorbable. In the case of absorbable stitches, the dog's body will naturally break down and absorb the suture material over time.
Depending on the type of incision, the stitches may be used to close just skin or several layers of tissue. For instance, in a simple laceration involving just a superficial skin tear, the edges of the skin are stitched together. In the case of a major surgery, the vet may need to stitch up muscles, the subcutaneous layer made of fat and connective tissue, and then finally skin, meaning there will be several rows of sutures in a single incision site.
Muscle and subcutaneous layers and organs, like the intestine. Soft tissue (bladders). Not used for tendons or ligaments.
Does not need to be removed unless suture reaction occurs.
synthetic (polyester) or organic (collagen)
Good for cardiovascular repair. Not for gastric or bladder surgery. Excellent for skin closure, ligaments, and tendons.
Needs to be removed by veterinary clinic generally 10 to 14 days after procedure.
synthetic (nylon) or organic (cotton, silk)
Faster than suturing. Closes incisions of the skin, clamps vessels internally, sternum closure in open chest surgery.
Generally removed 10 to 14 days later (if accessible) using a specialized staple remover.
titanium or stainless steel
Allows wounds to heal more cosmetically. Acts as an additional wound barrier.
Falls off naturally on average within 7-10 days; keep dry.
According to the Journal of Dairy, Veterinary & Animal Research:
"Synthetic absorbable sutures loose most of their tensile strength within 60 days and eventually disappear from the tissues because they have been hydrolyzed."
What does this mean? Most absorbable sutures require 60 days to be completely absorbed by the body (hydrolyzed). Not to fear, absorbable stitches lose (dissolve) between 50% of their strength by 7-10 days, meaning the body is well on its way to healing.
In some cases, your vet may use surgical adhesives to close the wound. Suture glue cannot be used near the eyes and is not suitable for oozing or contaminated wounds. Also, incisions closed with adhesives are more prone to opening up if they get wet. Adhesives are used to close very small incisions or act as secondary reinforcement for a top suture layer. Surgical glue is gradually removed by the body within 10 days on average.
Your vet sent you home with an Elizabethan collar (also known as the "cone" or more humorously, "the cone of shame") for a good reason: to help protect the area from excessive licking. Excessive licking may cause your dog to pull out the stitches or even introduce bacteria to the site, causing an infection. There are several techniques that you can use to prevent your dog from licking:
Dog saliva is not antibacterial and dogs should not be allowed to lick at their incision site.
Depending on the location and type of incision, you can ask your vet about using a bandage to keep your dog from licking the area. If the incision is near the abdomen or shoulder area, you can try to discourage licking by putting a t-shirt on your dog. Simply put your dog's head and front legs through the head and armholes of the shirt. If the problem area is the foot, you can ask your vet about placing a sock on the area. Of course, avoid doing so if you own a dog who would eat the sock or shirt and be at risk of an intestinal obstruction!
As the wound heals and the fur starts growing back, the area starts to get itchy. The Elizabethan collar may not be helpful in this case, as it prevents licking, but won't do much for scratching. Monitor your dog closely for scratching, and if possible, find a way to discourage scratching by using a command such as "leave it."
Crating your dog when you are not around may be helpful if it's snug enough to discourage scratching. Depending on where the incision is, letting your dog wear a t-shirt may also help to discourage scratching. This can be good for incisions on the abdomen and shoulders; check with your vet, as some procedures require the wound to air. Remember that dogs are capable of scratching their front legs with their back legs, so if your dog has an incision behind the front legs, he/she may cause significant damage by scratching!
Keep your dog's cone on for as long as your veterinarian has recommended activity restriction—generally 7-14 days. Neck collars for well-behaved dogs may be more appropriate, as are inflatable donut collars for small, mellow dogs that can be closely monitored. Just know that no collar or cone is foolproof, and dogs can get around the tip of cones with their tongue. Some dogs may react terribly to cones. It is okay to remove a cone while your dog eats if they are struggling to do so, but only if you are monitoring them 100% of the time. You may prefer to hand feed them or elevate their bowl.
Yes, those staples and stitches are strong, but if your dog moves in a way that puts tension on the area or stretches it excessively, this may impair healing and the sutures are at risk of opening and bleeding. Depending on the incision, your vet may recommend activity restriction for anywhere between 7 and 14 days or even longer. How to limit activity:
A big threat to an incision is an infection. The infection prolongs healing time and the pus may put extra tension on the stitches making them more prone to coming out. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics to prevent this complication especially if the area was already infected or you are dealing with a difficult wound such as an animal bite. What to look for:
Do Not Treat the Wound
Alcohol and hydrogen peroxide should not be used on incision sites and stitches as these chemicals will cause cellular damage and slow healing.
What indicates a post-operative medical emergency?
Do your best to keep the area as clean and dry as possible. It's good practice to observe the incision at least twice a day; consider taking pictures of the site in the same light as a reference. Know how many stitches or staples your dog has so you can keep track of them.
A small amount of clear or blood-tinged discharge can be seen seeping intermittently in the first 24/72 hours. According to Assisi Animal Health, it's normal for a little blood mixed with plasma (a clear, yellowish fluid) to leak from the wound site.
Normally, the discharge should have a light yellow tint (serous) or a pink tint (serosanguineous) and it shouldn't have any odor. This can be observed by gently blotting the incision site with clean gauze or a clean paper towel.
At times, dogs may develop a seroma at the incision site. When small blood vessels are ruptured, a seroma (an accumulation of plasma) will form as a pocket of extra space around the surgical site. The majority of these non-painful growths reabsorb on their own with time and the swelling will decrease. This collection of serum may occur because of excess "dead space," and the inflammation is often seen in animals that were too active during the recovery process or who licked and chewed the incision site. Hot or warm compresses (avoid moisture on the surgical site by using a plastic bag or similar barrier) may be helpful as these will encourage blood flow, allowing the body to reabsorb the extra fluid faster. Always test the compress on your skin first to avoid thermal or cold burns.
Question: What can I put on my dog's stitches to limit itching or scratching?
Answer: You can put an Elizabethan collar or a pair of boxers or pants or a shirt on your dog depending on where the stitches are. Close monitoring is still needed, though, as your dog can still reach the stitches if he really wants to.
Question: My dog got neutered three days ago. The vet used absorbable stitches; we noticed today the stitches were gone. How fast do they absorb? He has been licking at the spot, but not obsessively. We stop him every time we catch him. How fast would they disappear, or should we go ahead and take him back to the vet?
Answer: Usually, absorbable stitches are dissolved by the time the area is healed which is within 10-14 days. I would, therefore, expect it to be too early for them to dissolve.
If there is any gaping of the wound's edges and the area look red, swollen or infected, then that would warrant a vet visit. An emergency visit is warranted if there is bleeding/wide gaps or if the dog starts acting ill and lethargic.
If there are no gaps, there are chances that the vet has placed some buried sutures that hold things together. It would be best though to contact a vet just to be safe.
Being a weekend and a festivity, your clinic should have arrangements for after-hours emergencies. If you call your regular clinic most likely, the answering service will inform you about some emergency clinic open nearby. You can then contact the ER clinic and see what they think.
Chances are, if there are no major gaps or signs of bleeding, they may suggest covering the area temporarily with some non-stick bandage and checking the area a couple of times a day. An Elizabethan collar may be needed to protect the area from further licking. Best wishes.
Question: Do I have to stop my dog from itching and scratching after surgery?
Answer: Yes, it's very important to prevent the dog from bothering the incision area. Your vet should have sent you with an Elizabethan collar to prevent him accessing the area.
Question: Do dogs have to be put back to sleep to remove stitches?
Answer: Unless your dog has stitches of the dissolvable type, you will have to see your vet remove your dog's stitches. Usually, all your dog needs is gentle restraint while your vet removes them using a special tool, but if your dog is particularly fractious, the vet may administer a sedative.
© 2014 Adrienne Farricelli
Erika Ortiz on August 21, 2020:
Tomorrow is day 10 post op from my dog being spayed. Is she allowed to resume normal activity such as running?
Tammy Forrester on August 13, 2020:
If you have a small dog you can use a child's onesie for them to wear to keep them from licking and scratching at their stitches
I have a Boston Terrier around 22 pounds a 24 months fit him pretty well .Just remember the label goes to the cheat side of your pup so it buttons on too of the back just above the butt
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 17, 2020:
Hi Lilly, try to take a good picture of it and send it to your vet. Sometimes, if it's just a little gap, they may tell you to wait or if there's more to it, they may tell you to come bring your dog in. Make sure your dog has his Elizabethan collar on.
TravJanet on July 17, 2020:
The emergency vet just told us that we have to bring our dog back to them for staples removal because they put "internal staples" in him and they'll need to anesthetize him to remove them. We would prefer our regular vet do this. I can't find any info about internal staples being a thing in canines and they didn't mention this the night he was at the emergency clinic. Quite frankly seems like a ploy for another outrageous bill.
Lilly on June 26, 2020:
My bulldog was spayed Wednesday, its friday night and one of her stitches opened. We had been fighting to keep her inside all day, and one fo the kids accidentally let her out
The opening is maybe a quarter inch, and a little blood not alot. Shes laying down. And isnt jumping around now, but shes hyper. Im calling vet in morning. Is this normal. My other bull dog didnt have this issue wheb she was spayed.
Lori Gutierrez on April 05, 2020:
My dog was hit by a car a week ago and he licked his stitches open
Ricardoreese on January 15, 2020:
My pitbull got spayed today and the suture looks ok but what is the dark flourrescent green matter in the scar?
Jessica on September 14, 2019:
Hello my pup just got neutered this past Thursday and it is now Saturday just 48 hrs later and the glue is gone also his incision is wide open, as big as a nickel and I can see his internal tissue. When I called the vet she seemed to have brushed it off like nothing! Should I be worried or am I overreacting??
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 29, 2019:
Linda, when in doubt, you can send a picture of the incision to your vet and ask their opinion.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 29, 2019:
Manos, in such a case, you can contact your vet and email them a picture of the incision. This is what I did when a dog in my care had stitches and I wasn't sure if it was worthy of a vet visit. Turned out, in my case, it looked just fine and just needed to keep monitoring it.
Linda on July 28, 2019:
I had my dog spayed and she has just a tiny bit of pus coming out of her incision it's not choosing or dripping or anyting is just bare just a tiny bit was wondering if I should be concerned or if I just continue to observe it to see if it gets worse to go to the vet
Swetha on July 23, 2019:
Can I apply some topical agents like ointments on sutures of my pet
Manos castillo on July 23, 2019:
My dog was neutered on Saturday, 7/13 and today 7/23 my dog let him play outside thinking it was ok. Hes extremely playful and jums and runs alot. I checked his inscion site and it seems pink like if it open already. Should i take him to the vet or would this be considered minor and just monitor it over the days?
My dog had stomach surgery on May 29, 2019:
My dog had stomach surgery because she eat something like 23 days ago and now she has like something hatd next to the cut its this normal
Desirae on April 14, 2019:
My puppy was fixed about 2 weeks ago but the stitches are opened up and i dont know what to do
Brittany. on March 12, 2019:
Why do I do when it looks like a tiny bit of discharge or blood is around her stitches?
Kim on March 09, 2019:
My dog had a cancer lump removed Tuesday. She has 3 layers of stitches on her Bach hip leg . The wound is about 8 inches long . It has opened up . She has been back to vets 3 times since operation. I'm told this is normal??? Now it looks like 2nd layer of stitches has opened up. I'm still told this is normal??? It's absolutely herendous. Please advise me I'm so scarred ,,
Cristina on January 30, 2019:
My 3 year old shih Tzu had her eye removed I took her to get the stitches removed they found some discharge Cleanup her Eye put her on antibiotics now she has a scab is the scab noramal it’s been a month now
Jenna Abazia on January 12, 2019:
My Jack russel was neutered 3 days ago and was healing very well. Today he jumped up on the couch, i ran over to him and the incision looks like it slightly opened but not severely and has a wetness kind of a look to it now. Im very worried and cant speak to vet until monday. What should i do? He also was vomiting after his last pain pill today a white foam. Is this because of the incision?
Karen on November 17, 2018:
My dog has about 5 stitches on the top of paw one has broken with some blood should I cover with a bandage
Madison on September 09, 2018:
My dog had surgery to have a tumor removed a few weeks ago. I followed all of the dircetions given by the vet. At one point there was a pinch of skin between 2 stitches and it came off. Now theres a small hole, maybe 5mm. It's not infected or oozing at all, but I'm concerned that the opening could get infected. He's terrified of the e collar and he's also aggressive with the vet so I'm trying to avoid taking him. What should I do?
Monica Rodriguez on July 01, 2018:
My dog had two surgery's a tumer removed. And she got fixed but she has 3 days she dont want to eat is this normal I make her drink water
Brandy bishop on June 10, 2018:
My dog just had surgery and it's white stuff around the stitches what does that mean please reply quickly
Sharon Blair on June 07, 2018:
I was wondering if anybody could give me some advice please.
My bitchs was spayed 3wks ago and was constantly losing a bloody water from the wound. I took her back 5 days later and the vet told me that the stitches had twisted slightly and gave her antibiotics and said that if no better in 2 days to come back and he would re stitch her. Unfortunately the stitches burst on day 6 and the lining of her stomach fat was hanging out of the cut. We had to rush her down and they keept her in over night due to re stitching. They have given me a bill for overnight stay and the stitches. Do I have to pay this as one of the nurses even said that they used a different stitch in her?
Jackie manchester on May 05, 2018:
Very very helpful site , my dog has had a mass removed from her head , and 1 of the stitches looks a bit weepy , been to emergency vet , but now feel more at ease after reading your advice thank you
Yamielt on March 22, 2018:
my dog just got surgery and the stitches are around his abdominal area and he had a cone but he is blind in one eye so he cant see with the cone off so i took off the cone and put a bandage around that area so he wont pick, was that a good idea? please reply ASAP
Jazmine on March 06, 2018:
My shitzu was attacked by a pitbull bul sat and one puncture wound under her leg has 4 clear stitches she licked 2 out it's oozing clearish pink fluid alot I just put a shirt around her head to stop licking is this normal
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 01, 2018:
Ouch, sounds like the edges of the cones are irritating the eyes, I would be worried about a corneal ulcer. I would take them to the vet to play it safe. Whether or not you can leave them without the cone depends on how well you can supervise them to prevent them from bothering the area. As the scab forms sometimes it gets itchy. You may have to use a soft cone perhaps, like a comfy cone or have the vet get a better sized cone that won't touch the eyes.
Aimee on January 30, 2018:
Hi i just got my two dogs neutered about a week ago and there's a scab on the incision. the only issue is that both my dogs now have eye infections from rubbing their eyes on the cones. would it be too early to take their cones off and let their eyes heal?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 25, 2018:
Samanthi, this is really odd that your dog is crying. I would follow up with your vet.
Samanthi on January 16, 2018:
my dog was operated and the stiches were removed after 18 days. I noticed that some stiches are missing and i am 100% sure that notthing happened to the stiches. I assume some of the stiches have gone inside his skin. Now my dog is crying from time to time. Is this because the stiches have gone inside?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 09, 2017:
Maria, so sorry to hear that. What happened exactly?
Maria on December 05, 2017:
My 10 Year old GSD died the next day after stitches. .
E.j. Vegas on December 04, 2017:
My dog had a couple tumors on his lower abdomen, removed 3 days ago. Every now and again, he has a fit like a bucking Broncos. I'm thinking it's an itch. Anyone else dealt with this on how to ease his trauma?
Bren on November 29, 2017:
my dog was attacked by another dog, he had stitches, skin died and had a second surgery with many stitches in a Y shape on his rear end, now they opened and not enough healthy skin to restitch. Vet is letting would heal without stitches. These are not little wounds, they are infected and he is on antibiotics and pain meds for who knows how long.... will he survive?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 23, 2017:
Doesn't sound normal, could he have got injured jumping in and out of the car?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 23, 2017:
Redd, stitches may pop when dogs are overly active in the first few days after surgery, so the vet may charge you based on that.
G on November 21, 2017:
Our dog was fixed 14 days ago , stitches were removed tday !! He is acting weird shaking and yelping when he is held or starts to walk ! Is this normal ?
Bella on November 18, 2017:
This is a wonderful article. Everything was explained so well that I was left with zero questions.
Redd on November 11, 2017:
I've paid for surgery now a stitch popped the vet wants to charge me another $100 to fix is this all on me or does the vet have to fix there mess up?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 19, 2017:
You would need to keep her exercised and mentally stimulated (interactive toys, stuffed Kong, training, walks) to keep her distracted so that she'll be more likely to rest during the day and you can put the E-collar. on or supervise her. Consult with your vet for the bleeding.
Amy on October 07, 2017:
My female dog just had her right eye removed recently few days ago and she tend to be very active dog and she like to scratch her stitches but still wear E-COLLAR til her stitches removes on October 18th..she still has blood draining all over her right side ..so how to stop her scratching and blood draining??
Tasha on September 20, 2017:
My dog was just neutered 2 weeks ago, and I removed his cone today but I noticed he had been chewing and licking it still and it's started to bleed a little and opened a little. I've put the cone back on for now but I don't know if I should take him back to the vet
Michele on June 10, 2017:
my dog was spayed on Monday and she had tore the cone off she's a pitbull puppy 8 months old had not been bothering the incision but now it is red and open and seeping a light watery blood ish what should I do to prevent her from entering herself more..... she is very active and hyper can't really keep her down
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 27, 2017:
Hannah, would get that checked out by the vet to be safe.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 27, 2017:
Sounds good, what did the vets say when he got the stitches out?
Olga on May 24, 2017:
The stitches are out the area looks normal no drainage should I still worry
HANNAH on May 23, 2017:
My dog got hit by a car 4 months ago and the vet said her stitches will desolve but never did. I pulled them through her already healed wound and it is very red and puffy. When I squeeze it yellow puss comes out. How do I clean the infection out of it is already healed?
Cyndi on January 29, 2017:
Yes this article was helpful. I used to clean dried blood from stitches with hydrogen peroxide and now it is NOT recommended.
We have a small Maltichon mix, 14 lbs, and wears an 18 month baby's onsie. (We usually put a bladder leakage pad in it and have it on her for when guests are coming over. She has a nervous bladder, a subservient trait of some small dogs.) Recently she had 3 sebaceous cysts removed from her back, leaving huge incisions with many stitches. The onside has worked great to keep the wounds clean and dry. No cone of shame needed after we added her Thunder Shirt that securely covered her back and kept her warm. She hasn't been able to reach her wounds to scratch or chew on them. The wounds are healing well and she is calm.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 18, 2015:
Happy to hear this article about stitches aftercare in dogs was helpful to you.
Detective T on October 11, 2015:
Very helpful article. answered all my concerns about absorbable suture care.
Andrew Smith from Richmond, VA on December 27, 2014:
Our dog (Molly, a 12 year old Dachshund) just had minor surgery a couple of weeks ago. We're thinking of removing the stitches ourselves this time!
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on December 26, 2014:
We've had both the dissolving and removable types of stitches used. And it is tough to keep them from licking, scratching and pulling 'em out. The cone collars can help, but they don't like those too much either. Tough as it is, this is a constant monitoring situation for the days of healing. Thanks for the tips!
The purpose of this handout is to provide you with general information about the routine care of your dog's surgical incision. If your dog's incision requires special care, your veterinarian will discuss the details of this care with you.
Are there different methods of closing a surgical incision?
Yes. If a surgical incision extends through several layers of tissue, each layer will be closed separately. Therefore, there may be multiple rows of sutures in a single incision site. The surface or skin layer of your dog's surgical incision may have been closed with surgical glue or with one of several different types of sutures and suture patterns. The suture pattern that is used to close the skin depends on the length of the incision and how much tension is present across the incision, or on the preference of the veterinary surgeon.
As long as there is minimal tension on the surgical incision, your dog's veterinarian will use regular suture material and a standard suture pattern. In these cases, the stitches may be placed on the skin surface using a non-absorbable suture material, or they may be buried beneath the skin surface using absorbable suture material. Some surgeons prefer to use surgical glue or stainless steel staples to close routine incisions.
If the surgical procedure involved removal of a large mass, repair of a large wound, or debridement (cutting away) of infected or dead tissue, the loss of tissue may mean that the surgical incision is under a lot of tension. Excessive tension across an incision line may cause the wound to gape open and will delay healing. To minimize the tension on the incision line, your veterinarian may have used a special tension-relieving suture pattern or a type of skin suture called a 'stent suture'. If the surgical site was contaminated or infected before surgery, a surgical drain may have been placed within the incision to drain away any infectious material.
" The general instructions for incision care are the same for all surgical incisions. "
The general instructions for incision care are the same for all surgical incisions.
Under no circumstances should a dog with a fresh surgical incision be allowed to run off leash. Restrict your dog's activity for a period of 7-14 days, to allow the incision to begin healing. When you do take your dog outdoors, keep him or her on a short leash, and avoid long walks. Do not allow your dog to jump, rough-house with other dogs, or engage in any strenuous activity that could cause excessive stretching of the surgical incision, especially in the first few days after the operation. Excessive activity may cause the stitches to break apart, or may cause the incision to start bleeding.
Your veterinarian may prescribe cage rest or confinement in a small room in certain circumstances.
"Do not bathe your dog or allow the incision to get wet."
Do not bathe your dog or allow the incision to get wet. Never apply any cream, ointment, disinfectant or other substance to the incision unless specifically instructed to do so by your veterinarian. In particular, NEVER clean the incision with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol since these products will damage the cells and delay healing.
Do not allow your dog to lick or scratch at the incision, as there is a danger that the dog may pull out the stitches or may introduce an infection into the incision.
As long as the incision is not bandaged, inspect it at least twice daily. If a surgical drain was placed in the incision, you may be instructed to clean the drain several times per day.
The incision should normally be clean and the edges should be touching each other. The skin should be a normal or slightly reddish-pink color. It is not unusual for the incision to become slightly redder during the first few days, as healing begins to take place.
In pale-skinned dogs, bruising is often seen around the surgical site. This may not appear until a few days after the operation and in some cases can seem excessive in comparison to the size of the incision. This is due to seepage of blood under the skin edges and it is normal.
In some cases, a small amount of blood may seep intermittently from a fresh incision for up to twenty-four hours, especially if the animal is active.
You should be concerned and should contact the hospital immediately if you see any of the following at the surgical site:
In the first few days after surgery, your dog instinctively may try to clean the operation site by licking. The incision may become itchy as the wound heals and the fur begins to grow back in. Your dog may respond to this itchiness by licking or chewing. It is a misconception that dog's saliva is somehow antibacterial or will promote healing of a wound.
"It is a misconception that dog's saliva is somehow antibacterial or will promote healing of a wound."
I f your dog chews or licks excessively, there is a danger of the stitches being pulled out or of infection being introduced into the wound. If your dog persists in licking its incision, you may have to purchase an Elizabethan collar to prevent this behavior. Not surprisingly, many dogs find these collars strange at first and will attempt to remove them. However, after a short period most pets will settle down and tolerate wearing the collar. It is better to keep the collar on all the time, rather than to take it on and off. It only takes a few seconds of chewing for a dog to undo its stitches or damage the surgery site. If your dog does succeed in removing any of its stitches then please call the hospital as soon as possible.
If your dog's skin incision was closed with sutures that were buried beneath the skin surface, they do not require removal. If your dog's incision has non-dissolving skin stitches, stainless steel sutures, or stent sutures, they should usually be removed seven to fourteen days after the operation the actual time depends on the type of surgery performed. Your veterinarian will tell you when the sutures can be removed from your dog.
This will depend upon the type of operation your dog underwent. In the case of a minor procedure involving a small incision, some restriction of exercise should be maintained until a few days after the skin stitches are removed. However, if a major operation has been performed or a large incision is present, a longer period of convalescence will be required, which may involve keeping your dog housebound for a number of weeks. Your veterinarian will give you detailed instructions on how long you should restrict your dog's activities following surgery.
What follows below is a checklist of things that you may need to do, depending on your dog's particular case:
O Administer the prescribed medication(s) ______________________________________ as directed on the label.
O Clean the discharges that accumulate around the surgical drain at least twice daily.
O Bring your dog in for removal of the surgical drain in ____________ days.
O Confine your dog to a crate for the next ___________ days.
O Other _______________________________________________________________________
We will provide a 10% discount on a Dayton area veterinarian's estimate for similar services that we offer.
Providing safe, quality surgery and dental care at affordable prices is the foundation of Pets In Stitches’ mission. In fact, we prove it with our Low Price Guarantee!
Elizabethan collars are easy to remove and place back on when necessary. Unless instructed by your veterinarian, the collar should only be removed when your pet is under full supervision. Most pets will learn to eat, sleep and be their normal selves after a day or so. A few days of persisting with a collar can reduce the risk of serious self-injury and prevent further veterinary intervention. Read more about Elizabethan or Buster Collars here
We all need assistance and lots of TLC following surgery, and our furry family members are no different. After dental surgery, your pet will rely on you for loving aftercare. Our veterinary dentists at Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery in Loveland want to support you in giving your pet the best care possible. Here are some tips for providing quality, compassionate aftercare for pet dental surgery:
Preparing a quiet, warm, and comfortable area for your pet to rest after surgery will help in the healing process. Your pet should begin recovering from the anaesthetic within a few hours, though it can take 24-48 hours to fully recover. During this time, your pet will most likely seem drowsy and may lack an appetite. If she remains drowsy, disoriented, or lacking in appetite after 24 hours, give us a call right away.
Most likely, you and your pet will be sent home after surgery with pain relievers. It will be important to discuss pain relief administration in detail with your veterinary dentist before taking your pet home, and to follow the instructions on the bottle during homecare. If your pet refuses her at-home pain-relievers, give us a call so we can help you find a solution.
Following your pet’s dental surgery, check with your veterinary dentist to see if she will require a postoperative check-up. If your pet requires this, make sure to schedule a follow-up postoperative appointment with us before taking her home.
Talk to your veterinary dentist about postoperative feedings before taking your pet home. Typically, she will need a very small meal two hours after surgery. Depending on the type of procedure, she may need to avoid hard kibble and treats for a few days until an appropriate level of healing has occurred. Kibble can be softened with water, or canned food can be given. Some pets may need a watered-down or liquid diet for a prescribed amount of time. Make sure to encourage her in drinking water as soon as possible—and as regularly as possible—as water is essential to the healing process. If she refuses to eat 24 hours after surgery, give us a call right away.
Once your pet has recovered from anesthesia and is back to eating a (mostly) normal diet, it is important to continue keeping a close eye on her healing in case infection occurs. Pets often show no signs of pain, even when they are suffering. There are some subtle signs of pain to look out for following a dental surgery. If you notice any of the following signs in your pet, give us a call:
At Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery in Loveland, we want to support you in giving top-notch aftercare for pet dental surgery. We would love to help you create a care plan, and we’re always a phone call away if you have any questions or concerns regarding your fur baby’s healing.