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Desexing for Female Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

Vets and pet owners will tell you that one of the top medical priorities for a puppy is making sure they’re desexed on schedule. 

While the procedure is incredibly common, surgery on such a small animal can often be concerning for first time pet owners. So what do you need to know about desexing a female dog?

Female dog desexing surgery, or spaying, is an incredibly safe and common procedure. Having the surgery done has countless benefits, and in the rare cases that complications occur, this is typically due to an underlying health issue, not the surgery itself.

If you’re concerned about your new puppy having significant surgery, you’re not the only one. That’s why we’ve put together this complete guide covering everything you need to know about desexing your female dog.

Should You Desex Female Dogs?

The answer to “should I spay my dog?” is almost always yes. There are countless health benefits to spaying your dog, and given that long-term side effects or complications are exceedingly rare, there’s virtually no reason not to have the surgery done.

Technically speaking, desexing surgery is a major surgery. It involves your dog being sedated, going under the knife, and being hospitalised while they recover. However, modern veterinary care is incredibly advanced. The process of spaying a female dog is extremely safe in all but the most extreme cases.

You may be concerned that your dog is too small, fragile or weak to undergo intensive surgery. In reality, the earlier you get your dog spayed, the better, starting from around 6 months old. The younger a puppy is when it’s desexed, the quicker and easier the recovery period will be, and there’s no benefit to waiting longer. 

While you may be concerned about desexing surgery, the fact is that close to 95% of all female dog desexing surgeries have no postoperative complications, and those which do occur are typically minor. 

Pros of Desexing Female Dogs

The benefits of desexing your female dog include:

  • Reduced risk of breast cancer and other reproductive diseases – Female dogs that are desexed have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer and other female-specific reproductive diseases because the female reproductive organs are removed.
  • Prevention of female dog heat cycles – When your dog is desexed, she won’t go through the monthly heat cycles and won’t be attractive to male dogs. Heat cycles can be inconvenient and messy for pet owners, which is why desexing is almost always recommended.
  • Fewer cases of unwanted litters – Unwanted litters can be prevented when female dogs are desexed. An unwanted litter can cause financial, emotional and physical strain on both the dog and owner.
  • Decreased aggressive behaviour – Due to the female dog’s hormones being reduced, her aggressive behaviour is decreased too. Your dog will be more content and will likely be less territorial, making her a more pleasant companion overall.
  • Reduced roaming instincts – Female dogs will no longer be driven by hormones to roam in search of male dogs if they are desexed. This will reduce the chances of them getting lost or injured while they are away.

Cons of Desexing Female Dogs

Although few and far between, there are some cons to desexing your female dog, such as:

  • Risk of surgical complications – Although rare, as with any surgery there is a risk of possible complications arising from the procedure. If your dog is healthy you shouldn’t have to worry about surgical complications, but it’s important to know the signs to look for. 
  • Inability to breed – Obviously if your female dog is desexed they will no longer be able to breed. If you were intending on breeding your female dog at some point in the future then desexing may not be the right choice for you.
  • Long-term issues – Like surgical complications, there are some rarer conditions your dog can develop as a result of being desexed, such as urinary incontinence and neoplasias. The chances of your dog developing these conditions is incredibly low, but it is still possible. Choosing an experienced and reliable veterinary surgeon will help ensure your dog’s surgery is a success. 

What is the Process for Female Dogs Getting Desexed?

Getting your female dog desexed includes having them checked by vets beforehand and having them fast. Then they will be taken into the clinic where the surgery is performed, which can take up to a few hours. From there, you’ll need to spend a short period of time dedicated to their rest and recovery.

Before your dog undergoes surgery, they need to be checked by a vet to make sure they are fit and healthy enough for the procedure. This may include blood tests and other examinations to ensure your pet is in good health. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that your dog has not eaten anything for at least 12 hours before surgery as this can lead to anaesthetic complications during the procedure.

Once your dog has been admitted, the vet will perform the desexing procedure. This can take up to a few hours and will involve the removal of your dog’s reproductive organs. If you are worried about your pet’s safety, rest assured that vets use all necessary precautions to ensure the surgery is performed carefully and with minimal risk.

Once the procedure is complete, you’ll need to dedicate some time to your pet’s rest and recovery. This will include observing them closely for any signs of discomfort, ensuring that they are eating and drinking enough, and providing plenty of warmth and comfort. You may also need to administer medications such as antibiotics if needed.

How to Prepare a Female Dog for Desexing Surgery

To prepare your female dog for desexing surgery, you should get her checked by a vet to make sure she is healthy enough for the procedure. It’s also important that you fast your dog prior to surgery, as requested by the vet, as this will help reduce the risk of surgical complications.

You should also talk to your vet about any medications or supplements that could interact with the anaesthetic or could make the procedure more difficult. Lastly, you should talk to your vet about any restrictions you should impose on your dog’s activity level after the surgery is complete.

How Do I Help My Female Dog Recover From Desexing?

The most important thing in helping your dog recover from desexing surgery is to follow the instructions from your vet, including any activity restrictions. It is also important to provide your dog with a quiet and comfortable place for recovery, such as a crate or bed in an area free from too much noise and activity.

You should also monitor their food and water intake to make sure they are eating and drinking enough. You may need to encourage your dog to eat if they are feeling unwell or lack appetite, as it’s important that they maintain their energy levels and continue taking any prescribed medications.

Finally, you should keep an eye on the area where the surgery was performed for signs of infection or abnormal healing. If you notice anything out of the ordinary then contact your vet right away.

What Does a Healing Spay Look Like?

After a few days, you should notice reduced swelling and bruising at the incision site as well as healthy skin tissue that is not red or irritated. Your dog should also be walking, eating and drinking normally.

Generally, your dog should be feeling back to normal after a few days. They may experience some pain at the surgical site, but this is usually relieved with medication prescribed by your vet.

6 Warning Signs After Spaying Dog

If you notice any of the following signs after your dog’s spay surgery, you should contact your veterinarian for advice:

  1. Increased Swelling & Redness at Site – If the incision site is red, swollen, or hot to the touch, it may be a sign of infection.
  1. Pain & Discomfort – If your dog is exhibiting signs of pain or discomfort around the surgical site, such as whimpering when touched or avoiding activities they usually enjoy, then they may need further medical attention.
  1. Loss of Appetite – A sudden loss of appetite can indicate an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.
  1. Vomiting & Diarrhoea – These can be symptoms of a variety of issues, so you should check with your vet if they persist for more than 24 hours.
  1. Fever – A fever in dogs can be a sign of infection and should be checked out by a veterinarian.
  1. Unusual Bleeding – If you notice blood outside of the incision site, then it is important to seek medical attention right away.

What To Do If You Notice Any Warning Signs After Spaying Dog

If you notice any of the warning signs after spaying your dog listed above, it’s important to contact your vet right away and describe what you are seeing. Your vet may need to do further testing or prescribe additional pain medications in order to help ensure that your dog makes a full recovery.

It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your pup over the next few weeks and take note of any changes that could indicate a problem.

The most important thing is to be aware of the warning signs after spaying and seek veterinary advice immediately if you notice any issues. Doing so can help ensure that your dog’s recovery goes as smoothly as possible.

How Does Desexing a Female Dog Affect Her Behaviour?

Female dogs that have been desexed are generally happier, calmer, less anxious and less prone to aggression. Without the desire to reproduce, female dogs that have been desexed will focus more of their energy on being a loving companion.

Your dog’s behaviour will remain mostly the same as before she was desexed, with some subtle differences. For example, her hormones will be in balance, and therefore, she will be less likely to display behaviours such as marking her territory and displaying aggression towards other dogs.

Desexing will also reduce your dog’s desire to roam, which can lead to fewer wandering incidents, and a decrease in the likelihood that she will become pregnant. Additionally, desexed female dogs often have an easier time bonding with their owners and other animals, as they become calmer and more attentive.

In summary, desexing your female dog can lead to a number of positive behavioural changes that will make her a better pet and companion. However, it’s important to remember that the behaviour of each individual dog may vary depending on their personality and past experiences. 

Female Dog Desexing Surgery Complications

Although very rare, there are some desexing surgery complications in female dogs, including:

  • Swelling, bruising and/or bleeding at the incision site
  • Infection at the incision site
  • Damage to surrounding tissue or organs during surgery
  • Postoperative shock from anaesthesia complications

Note that the vast majority of desexing surgery procedures for female dogs go smoothly with no complications, so you should not be overly concerned. However, it is important to discuss any potential risks or concerns with your veterinarian before the procedure.

However, of the complications that can occur, many of them are very minor, and are treatable even if your dog does suffer from complications. The odds of your dog having any of these complications are very low, but they can occur. If you notice your female dog is not behaving normally after her surgery or has any of the above symptoms, contact your vet immediately.

How Successful is Female Dog Desexing Surgery?

The success rate of desexing surgery for female dogs is high, with over 90% of dogs recovering without any complications. Any complications are usually caused by unrelated, pre-existing health conditions.

How Common Are Complications After a Dog Spay?

It’s not uncommon for dogs to experience minor complications after undergoing spay surgery, like pain or bleeding. Serious complications are rare, and the most common is infection. 

The most common complications include infection, bleeding, and pain at the surgical site. Other less-common complications can include organ damage, reactions to anaesthesia, or even death.

It’s important to keep an eye out for any warning signs after spaying your dog in order to ensure they are making a full recovery with minimal issues.

Can a Dog Die After Being Spayed?

While it is rare, complications from spay surgery can lead to death if underlying health issues are present. The best thing you can do to ensure your dog’s safety is to be aware of the warning signs after spaying, and seek veterinary advice immediately if any problems arise.

It’s also important to make sure that your vet is experienced in performing spay surgeries and that they are using the most up-to-date surgical techniques. Additionally, make sure your pup is healthy before undergoing surgery in order to help reduce the risk of any complications after their spay. Vets will typically perform blood tests before surgery to detect any issues which could be a concern. 

Finally, follow all post-operative instructions given by your vet to help ensure a successful recovery for your pup.

Dog Spay Recovery FAQs

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your pup is as comfortable and stress-free as possible during their recovery period. Proper aftercare is essential in ensuring a successful recovery for your dog after spay surgery.

How Long Does a Spay Take To Heal Internally?

It usually takes about two weeks for the internal incisions to heal after a spay. During this time, it’s important to keep an eye out for any warning signs like excessive pain or discomfort, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, and fever.

How Long Does Swelling Last After a Dog Is Spayed?

The swelling at the incision site usually takes a few days to subside after a spay. It’s important to monitor the area and contact your vet if you notice any signs of infection such as increased redness, warmth, or tenderness.

Is It Normal for My Dog to Be Lethargic After Being Spayed?

It’s normal for your dog to be a bit more tired and less active than usual for the first few days after their spay surgery. However, if the lethargy persists beyond this time period or your pup is exhibiting any other warning signs such as loss of appetite or pain, then it’s important to contact your vet.

What Can I Give My Dog for Pain After Spaying?

Your vet may prescribe a pain medication such as an anti-inflammatory to help manage the pain after surgery. It’s important to follow their instructions carefully and make sure you are giving the appropriate dosage. If you notice any warning signs after giving the medication, then contact your vet right away.

What Happens if a Dog Is Too Active After Spay?

Your pup needs to remain relatively inactive for two weeks after a spay for the incision to heal properly. If your dog is too active, then they risk reopening their wounds, causing further complications. To help keep your pup from being too active, you can provide them with comfortable bedding.

It’s also important to monitor their behaviour and make sure they are not exhibiting any signs of pain or discomfort. If you notice any warning signs after spaying, then it’s best to seek veterinary advice right away.

My Dog Jumped After Being Spayed – Is This Bad? 

It’s important to keep your pup as inactive as possible for two weeks post-surgery in order to ensure that the incisions heal properly. If your dog has jumped after being spayed, then it’s possible that their stitches could have been damaged or become infected. 

Watch for any warning signs such as redness, swelling or pain, and seek immediate veterinary advice if you notice any issues. Doing so can help ensure that your dog’s recovery goes as smoothly as possible.

How Should I Lift My Dog After Spay?

It’s important to be gentle when lifting your pup after they have been spayed. It’s best to lift them in a forward motion, using their hind legs as support and keeping their body close to the ground. 

You should avoid lifting them too high or picking them up quickly – doing so could cause further trauma to the incision site.

What Can My Dog Do 5 Days After Spay Surgery?

After five days post-surgery, your pup can start to slowly resume their normal activities such as walking and playing. However, it’s still important to closely monitor their behaviour and look out for any warning signs of pain or infection. 

Additionally, keep their activity levels low until the two-week mark has passed in order to ensure that their incisions have healed properly.

It’s also best to keep them away from other dogs and animals for the first few weeks in order to reduce the risk of infection. Additionally, you should avoid bathing your pup until at least two weeks after surgery or until your vet gives you the green light. Doing so can help ensure that your pup’s recovery is as smooth and successful as possible.

Female Dog Desexing FAQs

Do Female Dogs Change After Desexing?

Other than not being able to litter, there should be minimal change to female dog behaviour after desexing and no long-term side effects. Desexed female dogs will still enjoy the same activities and retain their temperaments, if not, improve their temperament. 

How Do Female Dogs Act After Being Spayed?

After spaying, female dogs will be calmer and less aggressive because their hormone levels are decreased. They may also become more attached or friendly towards their owners. However, the overall personality of your dog should remain the same. 

Should I Crate My Dog After Spaying?

After your dog is spayed, it is important to take extra care of her and limit her activity for at least 10 days. This includes using a crate, as crating will help your dog rest and recover after surgery and prevent them from climbing, jumping and walking around which could otherwise inhibit their recovery.

How Long Does It Take for a Dog’s Hormones to Balance After Being Spayed?

Your dog’s hormones will begin to balance within a few days of surgery and should be completely balanced within two weeks. In some cases, it may take up to three weeks for the hormones to fully balance. It is important to continue monitoring your dog’s behaviour and providing support during this time.

Should I Let My Dog Have a Litter Before Spaying?

There is no reason to wait for a female dog to have a litter before spaying her. In fact, it is often recommended that you spay your pet prior to having any litters as this can reduce the risk of health issues in your dog.

Getting Your Female Dog Desexed

In conclusion, getting your female dog desexed can be a beneficial experience for both you and your pet. Although there are some very rare risks associated with the procedure, when done properly and by a qualified vet, it will almost always result in improved behaviour and health for your pet.

If you’re considering desexing your female dog, speak to your vet about the best course of action for your pet. Your veterinarian can answer any questions or concerns you may have, and ensure you’re feeling confident about your decision to desex. 

Related Questions

What Is the Best Age to Desex a Female Puppy?

The best age to desex a female puppy is between 4 and 6 months of age. By this point, the puppy should have completed most of their vaccinations, allowing them to safely go through the desexing process. 

What Age Do Female Dogs Go Into Heat?

The age most female dogs start going into heat is between 5 and 12 months old. However, some dogs may go into heat as early as 4 months of age or as late as 18 months. It is important to keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour during this time in order to be prepared for their natural cycle.

How Do You Tell if a Dog’s Wound Is Healing or Infected?

If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge around the wound, then this could be a sign that the wound is infected. Additionally, if your pup is exhibiting any signs of pain or discomfort near the incision site, then this too could indicate an infection. In these cases, it’s best to seek vet advice right away.

Is There Anything I Should Avoid Feeding My Dog After Spay Surgery?

It’s best to avoid giving your pup any treats or people food for the first two weeks post-surgery. This is because these types of foods can be difficult to digest and may cause stomach upset. Additionally, refrain from giving them any bones, rawhide chews, or other hard objects as these could damage their stitches.


This article is published in good faith, for general informational and educational purposes only. Paws and More Vet Centre does not make any warranties about the ongoing completeness and reliability of this information. This article should not be used as a substitute for veterinary advice, including for diagnosis or treatment of a pet’s medical condition. Always consult a veterinary professional before making decisions on your pet’s health.