Post-Surgery Care

Post-Surgery CareAfter your animal's spay or neuter surgery, you should provide the following care at home:

  • For the first 24 hours after surgery, it is especially important to keep pets warm and quiet. Keep your cat confined to the house for seven days and walk dogs only on leash for seven days.
  • If your pet seems interested, offer a small amount of food and water after 7:00 p.m. If your pet is still drowsy or vomits, wait until the following morning to offer food. If your pet keeps this down, you may repeat another mini meal in an hour or so. If your pet is not eating or drinking by the next afternoon, please call us.
  • Pets under four months of age should eat as soon as you get home. If they reject their regular food, try canned or baby food to entice them to eat.
  • No swimming or bathing allowed for ten days after surgery.
  • Do not permit rough handling or exercise for seven days.
  • Warn children not to touch the pet's stomach.
  • Discourage biting, scratching, or licking at the incision site, which can cause inflammation or oozing. If your pet is licking at the incision, please use the cone that you received or return to the clinic to obtain one.
  • For male cats, use newspaper instead of litter for the first 24 hours after surgery

Your animal may experience side effects following spay or neuter surgery; here are a few things to watch for:

Anesthesia Effects

  • Cat owners will notice some head bobbing and weaving, and your cat's eyes may have a glassy appearance. Cats may be a little quiet but should return to normal by the next day.
  • Dog owners may notice that their dog shivers, trembles or salivates. Dogs may break their housetraining so you may want to keep them confined to the bathroom or kitchen until the anesthetic has worn off.

Bleeding, Bruising and Licking

  • There may be a small amount of blood seeping from the incision. If this persists, please call us. Bruising under or near the spay site is normal, this should resolve itself, but if it seems extensive, please call.
  • DO NOT let your pet lick the incision site. All pets, with the exception of male cats, will go home with a cone (sometimes referred to as an e-collar, “Elizabethan collar”). Your pet needs to wear this while the incision is healing.


  • The sutures we use are self-dissolving. Some female cats and dogs develop swelling about the size of a walnut around or under the incision site within the first week. It is usually a reaction to the underlying tissue sutures. This is NOT a problem and can take up to a month to resolve, but if the swelling increases or you notice other abnormalities, please call us.
  • Check the incision area daily for redness, swelling or discharge. Any problems directly related to the surgery will be treated and covered by the SF SPCA Spay/Neuter Clinic under the following guidelines:
    • For any complications arising between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., 7 days per week, please call 415-554-3030 and return to the SF SPCA Mission Campus for follow-up care.
    • For after-hours emergencies, 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., 7 days per week, please call 415-554-3030 to seek care at our Pacific Heights Campus, 2343 Fillmore Street. 

If you choose to seek veterinary care at any other facility, the financial responsibility will be solely yours.

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