Is Spaying or Neutering Painful for Dogs?

Your dog will be under general anesthesia while getting spayed or neutered. Their vet will prescribe medications to help with discomfort afterward.

Feb 22, 2024By Sara Payne
is spaying or neutering painful for dogs

Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures to sterilize a dog to prevent unwanted pregnancies. You may wonder if this surgery is painful for your dog.

Since your dog will be anesthetized during the procedure, they will not feel pain. But, as with all surgeries, your dog may experience some pain and discomfort for several days to a week after.

Read on to learn more about spaying and neutering, the benefits of these procedures, and how to help your pup manage post-operation discomfort.

What Is the Difference Between Spaying and Neutering?

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Neutering and spaying are often used interchangeably. Another word often used for these procedures is “fixed.” However, there is a technical difference between neutering and spaying.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, neutering is the castration of male dogs. In this surgery, the surgeon removes the testicles. This prevents the male dog from being able to impregnate a female. This procedure reduces the sex hormones in the dog’s body, reducing aggression and other sexual behaviors, like humping.

When a dog is neutered, he will undergo anesthesia through a breathing tube. Then, a small incision is made in the front of the scrotum. The testicles are removed through that incision. The vet will typically use internal sutures to close up.

Spaying refers to the removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus in a female dog. This renders the female unable to become pregnant. It also eliminates the female’s heat cycle. After anesthesia, the surgeon will make an incision below the belly button to remove the reproductive organs.

Both procedures are routinely performed by veterinarians and are deemed safe.

How Should You Take Care of Post-Spay/Neuter Dog?

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Once your dog returns home from the vet, it will be groggy for the first day or so as the anesthesia wears off. Your vet will provide your dog with an injection of pain medication while still in the office. They may also prescribe pain medication to administer for the next few days.

Be sure to follow your vet’s instructions about how often to administer the medication. Never give a pet medicine intended for a person. These medications may react differently in a dog than they do in a human.

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Those first few hours after the procedure, your dog will need a quiet and calm place to rest. They need to avoid jumping and running, so they do not open up their incision. They will want to sleep and rest for at least the next day or so. Make sure to provide your dog with a safe place away from other animals and children in the home.

Your dog will be put in an Elizabethan cone for a few days to prevent the dog from chewing at the incision site. This may be cumbersome for your dog, but it is a key step in the healing process. Chewing at the incision site can cause additional pain and issues.

How Long Will Your Dog Be in Pain?

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Pain and discomfort should only last a couple of days to a week after getting spayed or neutered. Typically, pets begin to act more like themselves the day after the procedure. If your pet continues to be in pain after a week, seek out a veterinarian to do a follow-up.

Prolonged pain could be a sign of an infection or other problem. Symptoms of possible post-surgical complications include:

  • Redness, swelling, or discharge at the incision
  • Lack of energy
  • Reluctance to eat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

An open incision or infection can lead to further complications and should be treated as soon as possible.

Should You Get Your Pet Spayed/Neutered?

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Although spaying and neutering might sound scary, veterinarians routinely perform these procedures. They are the most common surgery that vets perform, so they have lots of practice.

You may also worry that taking away your dog’s reproductive organs is cruel or will make your dog feel less like themselves. These procedures do not make your dog less masculine or feminine. These characteristics are determined by hormones in early development and cannot be undone. However, these procedures do reduce aggression and some other common behavioral problems.

Castration also reduces the risk of reproductive-related diseases, such as prostate and ovarian cancers. Additionally, dogs only reproduce due to instinct. They don’t have any feelings of loss or regret at not having puppies. Dogs only exclusively care for their pups for around two months anyhow, so they do not have the same relationship with offspring as humans do.

Above all, spaying and neutering prevent unwanted puppies, which helps reduce the number of dogs in shelters, puppies mistreated, and dogs on the streets.

Does Spaying or Neutering Change a Dog’s Personality?

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Spaying and neutering do not alter your dog’s personality. The personality is set by genetics and cannot be changed. These procedures do reduce the production of sex hormones in your dog.

Sex hormones are responsible for causing females to go into heat. They are also responsible for the territorial behaviors that males exhibit towards other dogs. Neutering will make a dog less aggressive and less motivated to wander away from home because they are not trying to search for or protect a mate.

Spaying/Neutering Offers Many Benefits

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Spaying and neutering are procedures where a dog has their reproductive organ removed. This surgery is performed under anesthesia, and the initial incision should not be painful. After the operation, your dog may have slight discomfort or pain for a few days while they recover. Your vet will prescribe pain medication to manage this. Your dog should be back to normal after a couple of days.

Spaying/neutering your dog may seem scary, but it is a beneficial procedure that prevents unwanted pregnancy, reduces aggression, and mitigates a dog’s risk of certain diseases. You can find many low-cost spay and neuter clinics that will perform the surgery without breaking the bank.

Sara Payne
By Sara Payne

Sara is a mother of two and a high school English teacher who rediscovered her love of writing during the pandemic. She has 5 rescue cats: Neville and Luna, who are white cats with black and grey spots, and Ginny, Blue, and Fairy, who are calicos. Besides taking care of humans and fur babies, Sara enjoys gardening, crafting, and spending time in nature.