Neutering is a minor surgery, but it’s still surgery. Your male dog will need some time to recover before he can walk and exercise like usual. That, however, can be a bit of a challenge, especially for younger dogs. They’re not usually very good at keeping still for long periods.
You can’t just give in to your dog, though. You must take care of your male dog during his recovery period and force him to take it slow after neutering surgery, even if he doesn’t want to. Your canine friend has no self-discipline when it comes to surgical recovery, so you have to have enough for the both of you.
The Three-Day Rule
Your dog should routinely get a checkup three days after neutering to see how his recovery is coming along. No walks during these three days! No matter what. A second checkup is recommended 10 days after neuter surgery. Your dog can probably go for a short walk at some point before this second appointment. Exactly when depends on your dog’s breed, physical fitness level, and age.
The First 48 Hours
For the first 48 hours after the surgery, your dog needs to be on complete rest. Not only does this mean no walking, this means no exercise of any sort, and no jumping or even stretching. The more your dog can keep still during this critical period, the faster the healing process will be.
For a while, your dog will probably cooperate during the recovery period. But you may need to serve as your dog’s nursemaid during this time, making sure he doesn’t overexert himself. You’ll also need to ensure that your dog has food and water nearby so he doesn’t have to exert himself to get to them during the recovery process.
Pro tip: Keep your neutered dog confined during this period, so he has no room to go anywhere. This will give him no room to exercise. A small room or large closet can work very well. A large comfortable crate can work even better, as long as your canine friend doesn’t get worked up by being crated.
Crating will be necessary at night when you can’t keep an eye on your recovering patient. You should crate your dog any time you have to leave him alone for 30 minutes or more during the first two days.
Days Four to Ten
After the first three days, you can let your dog start getting some light exercise, walking around the house a bit, as long as your vet says it’s all right. It may even be possible to start taking your dog outside for a short leash walk. Ask when the walks can resume at the first follow-up appointment at the veterinary clinic.
However, you need to keep a close eye on him when you do. At the first sign of fatigue or discomfort, it’s time to head back inside. At first, just walk your dog around the yard, so he doesn’t have far to go if he suddenly needs to return home. During these first walks, keep it to five minutes or less, even if your dog seems like he’s doing fine and wants to keep walking.
Your dog might not show any interest in going out for a walk even when he can, especially if your dog is older. Don’t try to get him moving before he’s ready. Some dogs just need more time to heal than others do.
During the week between the first and second follow-up vet visits, your dog should get stronger and stronger, able to walk a little farther each time. You can stretch the walk times out to ten minutes or so. Later in the week, you can start going for trips around the block. By day ten, he might seem like he’s back to his old self.
It’s not a good idea to use a retractable leash during this time. If your doggy friend gets overly enthusiastic, he could just take right off, tearing his stitches in the process.
Also, if your dog keeps throwing himself against the leash and struggling to run, you need to calm him down, especially early on. His struggles could rip the stitches in the incision area.
After Day Ten
Ten days after the neutering surgery, you should bring your dog back to the vet for his second, and hopefully final, checkup. Your vet will most likely say that your dog is fully healed and he can go back to a normal activity level, including walking.
It is possible, though, that some complication means that your dog still has some more healing to do. As a dog owner, it is your job to be patient and follow your veterinarian’s instructions. Don’t worry, some dogs just take longer to heal, especially older dogs. Your doggy pal will be back to normal very soon.
Your vet will give you instructions for your dog after his operation. In addition, you should also keep an eye on the stitches. If you see any sign of oozing or crust around the stitches, it could be a sign of infection. Call your vet right away.
The more you get your dog to rest, the faster he’ll heal and be ready to get back to walking. Try giving him a lot of treats and chew toys during the recovery period to distract him from wanting to get up and play. The extra calories could help him heal faster, too.
No running or playing for the first ten days after the operation! No matter how well your dog is doing at walking, no matter how happy and energetic he seems, running and playing could easily reopen the surgical wound, causing the whole process to start over again. Even after the ten-day period, you should ask your vet if running and playing or OK before letting your canine friend indulge himself.