Dog itchy after surgery

Dog itchy after surgery DEFAULT



What should I do when my dog arrives home after its operation?

On arriving home you should keep your pet warm and comfortable by providing a soft clean bed, ideally in a quiet and draught free room at approximately °C.  Unless otherwise instructed, your dog should be offered a drink of fresh water.  After a few hours a small amount of food may be given, such as white fish or boiled or BBQ chicken.  Please keep your dog indoors overnight, or longer if instructed, and allow the use of a litter tray.  You should discourage any jumping or activity that will cause excessive stretching of the wound, especially during the first few days post-operatively.

My dog seems very sleepy, is this normal?

Your dog has been given a general anaesthetic and/or a sedative.  These drugs can take a number of hours to wear off and may cause some patients to appear drowsy for a day or so.  Over the next day or two their behaviour should return to normal, however if you are at all concerned do not hesitate to contact the surgery.  Most dogs sleep even more than normal in the first week after surgery.

Why has my dogs foreleg been clipped?

This is where the anaesthetic or sedative was administered.  There may also be a small dressing on the leg; if so this can be removed the following day unless otherwise instructed.

My dog has developed a slight cough since the operation.  Is this anything to worry about?

Your dog may have had a tube placed in their trachea (windpipe) during the anaesthetic - this can occasionally cause mild irritation and a slight cough as an after-effect.  If so, it will settle down over the next few days, however should it persist then contact the surgery.

What should I do if my dog is licking its wound or chewing the stitches?

It is only natural that your dog may try to clean the operation site, however, if this becomes excessive, then there is a danger of the stitches being pulled out or infection being introduced into the wound.  If you have been given an Elizabethan-type collar to prevent the dog chewing then please ensure it is used, otherwise please contact the surgery and ask for one.  Not surprisingly, many dogs find these collars strange at first and will attempt to remove them.  However, after a short period most animals will settle and tolerate wearing the collar.  Once accustomed, it is better to keep the collar on permanently, rather than to take it on and off.  Remember - it only takes a few seconds of unobserved chewing for a dog to undo its stitches.  If your dog does succeed in removing any of its stitches then please call the surgery as soon as possible.

What should the wound look like, and when should I be concerned?

The wound should normally be clean with the edges together and the skin a normal or slightly reddish/pink colour.  In pale skinned dogs bruising may be seen around the wound.  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, however this is due to seepage of blood under the skin edges.  In some cases a small amount of blood may seep intermittently from a fresh wound for up to 24 hours, especially if the animal is active.

Please contact the surgery if you see any of the following at the wound:-

Continuous seepage or a large quantity of blood.

Intermittent blood seepage continuing for more than 24 hours.

Any swellings, excessive redness of the skin or discharge.

When do the stitches need removing?

In general most skin stitches (also called sutures) are removed days after the operation depending on the type of surgery performed.  You will be instructed when is the most appropriate time for your dog.

When can my dog resume a normal active life?

This will depend upon the nature of the operation.  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 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 house-bound for a number of weeks.

If you have been given any medication

Please READ THE LABEL CAREFULLY and ensure that all medication is administered as instructed.  If you are experiencing any difficulty in dosing your dog please contact the surgery for advice.


After Surgery Care

Your pet&#;s surgery

Just like humans, a pet&#;s recovery after surgery can be an uncomfortable experience. Observe the following information to ensure your furry pal recovers as quickly and comfortably as possible.

To ensure full comfort during surgery your pet has been given a general anaesthetic and/or sedative. They have also been given pain relief to aid any soreness after surgery, particularly for sterilisations.

The anaesthetic was administered through an intravenous injection in the front leg (you may notice a clipped area on the foreleg) and/or by gas through a special tube in the windpipe. Occasionally this tube causes some irritation, which results in a mild cough following surgery. This usually clears up within 24 hours. If it continues we ask you to please contact our healthcare team.

My pet seems very sleepy, is this normal?

The general anaesthetic and/or sedative can take a number of hours to wear off and in some cases can cause patients to appear drowsy for a day or so. Over the next couple of days, their behaviour should return to normal. If you are concerned at any time please call your local Greencross Vets team.

Can I feed my pet tonight?

Your pet may feel a bit ‘off colour&#; and sometimes eating can cause vomiting. However, if you notice they are up and about in search of food, a small amount may be offered unless indicated otherwise by your veterinarian. Ensure they have plenty of fresh water at all times, particularly if you have been instructed to restrict their food.

How do I care for my pets wound?

During the postoperative period (approximately 10 to 14 days) the wound needs to be kept clean and dry. Check bandages, casts, and sutures daily and don&#;t bath your pet or let them swim. Also check the wound for excessive swelling, discharge, gaping or self-inflicted damage. If you have any concerns please contact our healthcare team.
If your veterinarian has inserted a drain into the surgery site, you will notice that it may ooze over the next few days. This is normal and has been placed to encourage the movement of fluid away from the surgery site. If a wound or drain looks dirty, only use salty water to clean unless instructed otherwise by your vet.

What should I do if my pet licks or chews the stitches?

If your pet has stitches they may chew or lick them causing harm and in some cases infection. If your pet shows an interest in the wound, we recommend an Elizabethan collar (a bucket-like device that is worn around the neck).
Bitter tasting sprays are also available to apply to the wound to discourage licking. Just consult our healthcare team for the right product for your pet. Please remember you are responsible for your pet&#;s aftercare. Re-suturing of wounds may incur an additional cost.

Something&#;s not right, what should I do?

If you have any doubt about the health of your pet following surgery, please contact our hospital immediately to speak to one of our healthcare team. Signs you may see that can indicate problems include:

  • extensive lethargy (particularly after 24 hours)
  • vomiting
  • excessive redness around the surgery site
  • swelling or lumpiness around the surgery site
  • bleeding or discharge from the wound.
  • continuous licking
  • odour from bandage site

About the Elizabethan collar

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.
Your local Greencross Vets team is available to assist you with any questions you may about preparing your pet for surgery

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Whether your dog has undergone major or minor surgery, nursing them back to health is a big challenge for any owner. With adequate pet cover helping to take care of the financial pressures you can focus on giving your four-legged friend the nurturing they’ll need.

After all, even a simple straightforward operation like neutering or spaying will still require you to follow your vet’s post-surgery advice carefully.

Fortunately, with just a little preparation and a bit of helpful information, caring for your dog’s stitches should be stress free.

Before your furry family member returns from the vet’s surgery, ensure that the rest of the household understands the plan for your pet’s post-op care.

Everyone will need to play their part to keep doggy’s stitches safe and clean.

Restricting activity

From day one, your dog’s activity levels will need to be restricted. These limits should remain in place for at least one to two weeks.

Even minor wounds need plenty of time to heal, and too much activity could cause stitches to stretch or even rupture.

Consider the side effects of any medication, too, which can slow your dog’s reflexes and make even everyday activities risky.

If you’re worried about how to restrict your playful pup’s activity, then follow these simple steps:

  • Only take them for short walks and always use a short leash.
  • Don’t leave them unsupervised with other dogs.
  • Stop any rough play immediately and don’t let other dogs lick the wound.
  • Discourage jumping on furniture.
  • Block stair access.
  • Consider temporary confinement in a crate or by tethering.
  • Provide a small, quiet, confined room for them to rest.

A dog recovering from surgery laying on a fluffy dog bed

Inspect stitches regularly

There are many potential risks and problems resulting from surgery so keeping a close eye on your pooch is important.

If the wound isn’t covered by a dressing, then at least twice a day check to make sure it’s healing correctly and not becoming infected.

Healthy stitches could have:

  • No gaps around the operation site —the edges should be touching and clean.
  • A slightly reddish-pink colour to the skin.
  • Bruising and some swelling is normal and should go down after a couple of days.
  • A small amount of blood from a recent operation is okay.
  • A clear or light pink or yellow discharge may be present for the first few days. This is normal provided it’s pale in colour, there isn’t too much and it doesn’t smell bad.

Causes for concern include:

  • Persistent blood or fluids seeping from the wound.
  • Excessive swelling under and around the wound site.
  • Excessive pus or seepage of white or yellow fluid.
  • Excessive redness of the skin around the wound.
  • A bad smell around the wound or discharge.
  • The wound site is hot to the touch.
  • Pulled-out stitches.
  • The sides of the wound aren’t holding together.
  • Lumps or abscesses.
  • Lethargy, a high temperature or lack of interest in food.

These are unmistakable signs of an infection and your vet must be contacted immediately. Having adequate pet insurance already in place means you can feel confident to ask for help sooner rather than later.

However, don’t worry unduly as most dogs that undergo surgeries will not suffer any complications.

If you make sure your dog has plenty of time to rest and keep their stitches clean and dry, they’ll soon be back to their old self.

A dog sitting on a grass patch with a bandage around its front leg and a cone around its head

Follow medical advice

Following your vet’s post-operation instructions is essential for keeping your pet fit and healthy when they’re convalescing. After all, when you’ve gone to the effort of getting the best professional help, it’s vital to heed their advice.

Some wounds require a surgical drain to be fitted so that blood, pus and other fluids can drain appropriately from the wound. If your vet has done this then follow their instructions for keeping them clean.

Try not to bathe your dog as keeping the surgical incision and stitches dry is important. Unless instructed by your vet, don’t use any lotions, hydrogen peroxide or alcohol to clean the stitches as this can lengthen the healing process.

In the likely event your dog has come home with antibiotics and/or painkillers then follow any medication instructions.

Just as with their human owners, dogs need to be kept to a strict schedule for administering the medicine and the correct dosage.

Dogs can easily introduce infection or remove the stitches if they’re allowed to bite or lick their wound. To prevent this from happening the vet may send them back to you wearing a cone-shaped collar.

Dogs do not appreciate the importance of wearing this somewhat humiliating and uncomfortable contraption, but they must wear it!

To make yourself feel better remember that the longer they wear it, the sooner they’ll get used to it and the quicker they’ll get better.

If you’re unsure of anything be sure to ask for further explanation. Pet insurance policyholders with Purely Pets can contact our free hour Vet Helpline at any time for advice from registered veterinary nurses who have a minimum of three years’ practical experience.

Plenty of cuddles

Okay, this is an easy one and doesn’t require much explanation.

After surgery your pooch will be feeling sorry for themselves and sorely in need of some TLC but be careful not to lift or pull them and rupture any stitches.

Beware also that they still might be in a lot of pain so they might act more aggressively than usual.

A dad and daughter stroking their pet dog as it recovers from surgery

Recovery time

Recovery time from any surgery will depend on the procedure. Obviously, something routine and less invasive should heal within a couple of weeks.

A more complicated surgery could take several months. Also, depending on the type of stitches used, your dog might need a follow-up visit to the vet to remove any remaining sutures.

Protect your pet with Purely Pets

Unfortunately, operations can be a fact of life when it comes to veterinary treatment, but

large bills don’t have to be.  With Purely Pets, you’ll always have the support to help you deal with the unexpected.

With 15 levels of lifetime cover, including cover for vets’ fees ranging from £1, to £15, per year, we have pet insurance policies to suit every budget.

In addition, our online Manage My Policy portal allows you greater flexibility to manage your policy at a time that suits you.

Get a quick quote from Purely Pets today.

Dog Skin Allergy Home Remedies - Cure their Itch!

How to Care for and Keep Dog Stitches Clean After Surgery

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Dr. Rachel Barrack, Veterinarian & Certified Veterinary Chinese Herbalist

Caring for Dog Stitches After Surgery

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:

  • How do I care for my dog's stitches?
  • How long do dissolvable stitches last and what is the healing time?
  • How do I keep stitches clean?
  • What if my dog chews, licks, or scratches the stitches out?
  • How long should my dog wear a cone?
  • Is this normal? What if the stitches bleed, ooze, or have pus?

Sometimes, you aren't even given the opportunity to talk to your vet after your dog&#x;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.

How to Care for Your Dog's Surgical Incision



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 Walks

Leash walk for potty breaks and prevent jumping and running; no running or free play.

No Jumping

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.

No Baths

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 Behavior

Monitor your dog for behavioral changes (lethargy, panting, discomfort).

Emergency Contacts

Keep your vet's contact and emergency numbers close by.

What Is the Healing Time for Dog Stitches?

In general, within 10&#x;14 days a dog's incision is capable of withstanding tension and stretching. Now, 10&#x;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.

The Stages of Wound Healing

How to Keep Dog Stitches Clean and Free From Infection After Surgery

Keeping the Incision Site Dry and Clean

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).

No Bathing

Do not bathe your dog unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian.

Why Is My Dog's Wound or Incision Not Healing?

Here are some things to watch for that may impair healing. Common causes for prolonged healing times include the following:

  • Pre-Existing Health Conditions: diabetes, kidney and liver failure, hormonal imbalances, cancer
  • Excessive Activity: post-surgical activity (i.e., jumping and play)
  • Medications: i.e., corticosteroids, aspirin in high doses
  • Age: senior dogs take more time to heal
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, protein deficiencies

What Is a Suture Reaction?

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.

Consider the Type and Severity of the Surgery

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):

  • Dog Neuters: Many puppies that are neutered at two months of age will bounce back the next day, and healing will seem almost immediate as their incision site is small. You should still allow for a minimum of seven days for healing. Neutering in adult male dogs is less invasive than a spay surgery, however, post-operative care should still be followed for seven days minimum.
  • Dog Spays: As for an adult female dog who is spayed, a minimum of seven days is mandatory, as the procedure is more invasive, the surgical incision is larger, and healing time is prolonged. A dog's age and size are a huge factor in female dog spays. Large female dogs, older female dogs, and deep-chested dogs tend to have more difficult spays, require longer recovery times, and may be more sensitive post-operatively.
  • Orthopedic Surgery: Knee surgery in dogs, which is quite common, requires rehabilitation. Your dog's incision may start to improve at the one-week mark but mobility must be limited, so this type of healing will be parsed out according to your veterinarian's designated rechecks. By two weeks, the wound should have closed, however, there will often be a two-week recheck and a six-week recheck. Immobilizing dogs who have undergone orthopedic surgery is a must as is keeping the surgical site clean. Bone plates can become infected and must then be removed in a second surgery.
  • Mass Removals: When a large mass is removed, not much tissue may remain to close the incision. In this case, there may be lots of tension which can ultimately cause the incision to open up despite being stitched. To prevent this, your vet may use a special tension-relieving pattern to stitch up the area. Mass removal wounds should also be given a minimum of seven days healing time.
  • Emergency Surgeries: Emergency surgeries often involve a dog that is already compromised on a systemic level, and recovery can be much longer than one week. Each case will vary, so be sure to consult with your veterinarian for week-by-week instructions as some medical emergencies require extensive post-operative care.

Compare Healthy and Infected Surgical Incisions

What Type of Stitches Does My Dog Have?

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 a 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 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.

Types of Stitches or Sutures Used in Dog Surgeries

TypeUseCare/Healing TimeMaterial

Absorbable Stitches

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)

Non-Absorbable Stitches

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)

Surgical Staples

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

Suture Glue

Allows wounds to heal more cosmetically. Acts as an additional wound barrier.

Falls off naturally on average within 7&#x;10 days; keep dry.


How Long Do Dissolvable Stitches Last?

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&#x;10 days, meaning the body is well on its way to healing.

Surgical Adhesives or Suture Glue

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.

How to Stop Your Dog From Licking at Stitches and Pulling Them Out

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:

  • Elizabethan collars (e-collars), cones, or similar devices
  • t-shirts and socks (if approved by your veterinarian)
  • supervision and commands such as "leave it"
  • vet-approved anti-lick strips or sprays
  • dog puzzles and distracting toys (frozen kong treats)
  • sedation or tranquilizers in extreme cases

Dog saliva is not antibacterial and dogs should not be allowed to lick at their incision site.

Can I Cover My Dog's Stitches?

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!

How to Stop Your Dog From Scratching at Stitches and Opening Them Up

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!

How Long Should a Dog Wear a Cone After Stitches?

Keep your dog's cone on for as long as your veterinarian has recommended activity restriction&#x;generally 7&#x;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 % of the time. You may prefer to hand feed them or elevate their bowl.

Important: Restrict a Hyper Dog's Activity After Surgery

Limiting Activity

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:

  • Always take your dog out for potty breaks on a leash.
  • Discourage running around and jumping especially during the first days. Jumping up and down in the house or on furniture may cause swelling and pain.
  • Barricade stairs or carry your dog up and down depending on necessity.
  • Avoid long walks and rough-housing with other dogs.
  • Your vet may recommend cage rest or keeping your dog in a small room.
  • Tranquilizers or sedatives may be prescribed for particularly hyper dogs.

When Dog Stitches Open Up, Come Out, or Look Infected

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:

  • Signs of an Infection: If you see active bleeding, oozing, and bright green pus or odorous discharge, take your dog to the veterinarian right away. Behavioral changes, fever, panting, and loss of appetite, are all indications that your dog may be harboring an infection and should be seen ASAP.
  • Open Wounds: The most serious complication of an incision is protruding tissue. Stitches are meant to keep the dog's underlying tissues in place, and when the stitches come out, there's the risk that the protruding tissues will trigger a serious and even potentially fatal infection.

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.

Signs That Your Dog Needs Medical Attention

What indicates a post-operative medical emergency?

  • Excessive swelling or redness at the surgical site
  • Fresh blood seeping for over 24 hours
  • Discharge or drainage dripping from the incision site
  • Foul odor, pus, or off-color drainage
  • Missing sutures with redness/swelling and discharge
  • Edges of the skin are no longer together or a wide gap exists over ¼ inch
  • Protruding tissue (medical emergency)
  • A dog that is listless and not eating

When Discharge From Your Dog's Stitches Is Normal

Know What Normal Is

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.

Characteristics of a Normal Incision

  • Clean with edges touching.
  • Reddish/pink color that intensifies during the first days as the area heals.
  • Some bruising along the edges in pale dogs as the area heals.
  • Clear, serosanguinous (clear liquid mixed with blood) discharge in small amounts (first 24/72 hours).

Clear, Blood-Tinged Discharge

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.

Why Did My Dog Get a Seroma After Surgery?

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.

Veterinarian Explains How to Prevent Problems With Your Dog's Stitches


This article is accurate and true to the best of the author&#x;s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

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 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.

© Adrienne Farricelli


Erika Ortiz on August 21,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

My dog was hit by a car a week ago and he licked his stitches open

Ricardoreese on January 15,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

Can I apply some topical agents like ointments on sutures of my pet

Manos castillo on July 23,

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,

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,

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,

Why do I do when it looks like a tiny bit of discharge or blood is around her stitches?

Kim on March 09,

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,

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&#x;s been a month now

Jenna Abazia on January 12,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

After noon.

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

Samanthi, this is really odd that your dog is crying. I would follow up with your vet.

Samanthi on January 16,

my dog was operated and the stiches were removed after 18 days. I noticed that some stiches are missing and i am % 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,

Maria, so sorry to hear that. What happened exactly?

Maria on December 05,

My 10 Year old GSD died the next day after stitches. . .

E.j. Vegas on December 04,

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,

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,

Doesn't sound normal, could he have got injured jumping in and out of the car?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 23,

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,

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,

This is a wonderful article. Everything was explained so well that I was left with zero questions.

Thank you.

Redd on November 11,

I've paid for surgery now a stitch popped the vet wants to charge me another $ to fix is this all on me or does the vet have to fix there mess up?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 19,

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,

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 how to stop her scratching and blood draining??

Tasha on September 20,

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,

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,

Hannah, would get that checked out by the vet to be safe.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 27,

Sounds good, what did the vets say when he got the stitches out?

Olga on May 24,

The stitches are out the area looks normal no drainage should I still worry

HANNAH on May 23,

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,

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.


Itchy after surgery dog

Post-Surgery Instructions

Before your dog was spayed she first received a combination of long-lasting analgesics to preemptively prevent any pain. She then received a general anesthetic to induce sleep. An incision was made through the skin and abdominal wall, into the abdominal cavity, and the three points where the ovaries and uterus attach were tied off and cut. Both ovaries, the fallopian tubes and the uterus were removed. The procedure is called an ovario-hysterectomy. Because of the seriousness of the operation, your dog requires and deserves proper care and observation for the next several days.

  1. When you bring your dog home on the day of surgery, she will be feeling the effects of the anesthetic. Keep her away from all other animals and children when you first bring her home. She may feel a little wobbly and not be in complete possession of her senses. It is important this first day that you confine her indoors and disturb her as little as possible. This is equivalent to the strict bed rest you would get in the hospital if you had received abdominal surgery. She should return to her normal self in a few days.
  2. Your dog has been given one of the most effective combinations of analgesics for this type of surgery. We have sent home three additional days of anti-inflammatory pain relievers to help her remain comfortable throughout her recovery. These are to be started the day following surgery. Follow the instructions on the prescription label. Dogs are individuals, and there are some dogs that are more sensitive to pain. Please let us know if you feel your dog needs additional pain relievers following surgery. These are available to purchase.
  3. Keep your dog safe on the ride home. Make sure your dog is safely confined. Animals recovering from surgery may be more susceptible to problems associated with both warm and cold weather. Brachycephalic dogs and cats, whose nose is smaller than normal, are particularly prone to problems associated with heat.  It is important that all pets remain comfortable on the way home, especially during periods of warm or cool weather.
  4. Do not feed your dog until the effects of anesthesia have passed and she has fully regained her coordination. How quickly this happens depends on each individual dog. Many can eat the first night after surgery. Some even awaken fast enough to have had a small snack here at the clinic before going home. When she is ready to eat, give her a small amount initially and then space out the rest of the meal over the remainder of the day. Some dogs feel nauseated the first few days so don't be alarmed if she does not want to eat immediately. If your dog is not eating by the third day after surgery, please let us know about it. Fresh, clean water should always be available.
  5. Keep her as quiet as possible for one week. Too much activity too soon will disrupt the healing process and can lead to swelling and/or the formation of a fluid pocket under the incision. If a fluid pocket does form (seroma), it should go away on its own in a few weeks. Short on-leash walks are okay. Running or off-leash yard play should not be allowed.
  6. Observe the incision daily. A small amount of redness and swelling is normal. Any drainage or discharge or excessively large swelling is not normal and should be reported to the clinic.
  7. She may have a slight cough for a few days. We put a breathing tube in her trachea to give her oxygen and gas anesthesia. Sometimes this tube causes a little irritation resulting in a cough.
  8. Do not let your dog lick her incision. She could open the incision or cause an infection by doing so. If your dog insists on licking her incision, it may be necessary to place a collar (often called an "Elizabethan" collar) on her to prevent her from doing so. These collars are available from our clinic, other veterinary clinics and pet stores as well in several different styles.
  9. Avoid getting the incision wet until the skin has healed completely, about 14 days. This means no baths. Your dog will love us for forbidding baths! This also means no swimming or wading in belly deep water or playing in the rain/park fields for long periods of time.
  10. Your dog does not require removal of any sutures. These are buried beneath the skin. You may feel or see the sutures just underneath the skin for several weeks to months as they resorb over time.
  11. If your dog was in heat at the time of surgery, she should be kept away from male dogs for the next eight to 10 days. She will retain the odor that attracts male dogs, and she may still be receptive to them. If a male dog mounts her, there is a risk that this may rupture her internal sutures and cause them to begin to bleed. If she was in heat or near the beginning of her estrus cycle at the time of surgery, you may see some small amount of blood tinged vaginal discharge for a few days after surgery.
  12. If your dog was pregnant at the time of surgery, it may take her longer to recuperate. She will probably be slightly anemic and a little run down. To help her recover as quickly as possible allow her access to plenty of fresh, clean drinking water and a high-quality dog food for the next few weeks.
  13. Keep your dog's surgery report. It is verification that she has been spayed. It also indicates whether your dog was vaccinated and for what. If a rabies vaccination was given the report contains your Certificate of Rabies Vaccination. This document may be required for travel with your dog. Check the rabies certificate to see when the next rabies vaccination is due. Check with your regular veterinarian to see when additional boosters of other vaccines are recommended.
  14. If a problem should develop contact us immediately. If the clinic is closed, contact your private veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic.

We anticipate your dog will have a normal, uneventful recovery. If you have any questions regarding her progress, please call us at

How to Treat Itchy Skin in Dogs -- Home Remedies for Itchy Skin in Dogs

Tips for Managing Your Dog's Pain After Neutering

Our Bartlett vets at Hillcrest Animal Hospital understand that for some pet parents, deciding to have your dog spayed or neutered can be an emotional decision. However, try to keep in mind that the pain from neutering is typically short lived and easy to manage.

Benefits of Spay & Neuter

Our vets know that you may not feel like it at the moment, but going through the emotional process of having your dog spayed or neutered is worth it, both for you as a loving pet parent, and for your canine companion.

Having your dog 'fixed' can help to curb undesirable behaviors such as roaming, mounting and animal aggression. Spaying and neutering may also offer your dog a number of health benefits including a decreased risk of some serious illnesses, as well as preventing unwanted puppies.

An estimated million dogs enter shelters every year! By having your dog spayed or neutered you are doing your bit to help reduce the overall number of unwanted pets in your neighborhood.

Is spaying or neutering safe for my dog?

Yes. These surgeries are common veterinary medical procedures that most vets get a lot of experience performing. Nonetheless, as with people, there is some level of risk involved whenever an animal is put under anesthesia for a procedure.

For that reason, throughout the procedure, your vet will closely monitor your dog and be on the lookout for any signs of illness or possible complications.

What's the difference between spaying and neutering?

The terms 'spaying' and 'neutering' both refer to surgical procedures that render your dog unable to produce puppies. Both of these surgeries are commonly referred to as 'neutering' or being 'fixed' although the surgeries are very different.


  • The neutering or castration of male dogs involves the surgical removal of the testicles while the dog is under general anesthesia. 


  • Spaying is the surgical sterilization of a female animal through the removal of both ovaries and the uterus, while under general anesthesia.

How do I help my dog feel more comfortable after neutering?

After your dog has been neutered you are going to want to help them to rest and feel as comfortable as possible. Here are a few things that you can do to help comfort your dog after neutering:

  • Provide your dog with a quiet place to recover indoors and away from other pets.
  • Prevent your pet from running and jumping for two weeks after neutering. Be sure to follow your vet's instructions regarding activity after these procedures, since your dog may require further restrictions. 
  • Have your dog wear a cone (Elizabethan collar) or post-operative jumpsuit (recovery suit) to prevent your pup from licking the incision site. Licking the incision may cause an infection.
  • To help your dog's incision to heal as quickly as possible, do not bathe your dog (or allow your dog to swim) for at least ten days after their surgery.
  • Check the incision site every day for any signs of infection and to be sure that the incision is healing well.

Contact your vet if you notice any redness, swelling or discharge at the surgery site, or if the incision has opened. Also contact your vet if your dog seems lethargic, stops eating, has diarrhea or begins vomiting.

How long will my dog be in pain after neutering?

When you pick your dog up from the vet's office after surgery, your dog may be tired, queasy, or just not seem like their usual self - those are all typical side effects of the general anesthesia. The next day your pet should begin behaving more like themselves and be showing little or no sign of any pain. 

While spaying your female dog is more involved than neutering male dogs, these surgeries should take about the same amount of time to recover from.

Any discomfort caused by having your dog fixed lasts for just a few days and should be completely gone after about a week. If your pup is experiencing pain or discomfort for more than a couple of days contact your vet for further advice.

Will my dog have pain meds after surgery?

Yes. Throughout the surgery your dog will be unconscious and not feel any pain. Once your dog wakes up after the surgery, medication will be needed to help manage pain. Directly following the surgery, your vet will administer long-term pain medication via an injection which should last for about hours.

The vet will prescribe any take-home medications required to help relieve your dog's post-operative pain. Some of the most common medications prescribed by vets to help manage pain after neutering include Torbugesic or Rimadyl.

Follow your vet's instructions carefully when it comes to giving your dog pain medications. Never administer human pain medications to your dog! Some pain medications that work for humans can be poisonous to dogs.

If your pet has been recently spayed or neutered and is showing signs of discomfort, contact our Bartlett area vets to book an appointment for your pet to see one of your compassionate vets. 

Manage your dog's pain after neutering, Memphis Vet

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Post-op Licking :: How to stop it!

rockerconeHelp! My pet is licking post-op! How much licking is too much? What do I do?

One of the most important steps you can take to make sure your pet heals correctly is to keep him or her from licking. It is CRITICAL that you keep your pet from doing this, or you could be facing a lot of problems post-op.

Sometimes, our furry friends lick because the place feels weird or tastes interesting. Or they may lick because it hurts (in the first few days) or because it itches (as we approach days ). Contrary to the old wives’ tale, our pets mouths have a lot of germs in them and saliva does not heal wounds—instead it becomes a source of infection. If your pet licks at the incision more than even once or twice—especially if you have to tell your pet to stop—you need to do something right away to get this cycle stopped. Because pain could be part of the equation, if you haven’t gotten your pet any post-op pain medication, we recommend you do so as part of helping stop the lick. Medications we give at the time of surgery last for up to 24 hours. Contact us or your regular veterinarian about what might help your pet.

The best way to get your pet to stop is to get an Elizabethan (or “E”) collar, AKA “Lampshade”, or “Cone of Shame”. These stay on your pet during the healing cycle and prevent your pet from licking. We carry them at our clinics and they can be purchased at the time of surgery, but regular vet offices and many pet stores carry them. Because of the different shapes of our pets, it is best to take the pet where you plan to purchase the collar, because it needs to be matched up to your pet’s size correctly to work.

Another option is to use something around the incision to stop licking from happening. We carry one product that we like, but there are many different products on the market that are available through pet stores and even in grocery stores/general merchandise stores. Common ones are Bitter Apple, Bitter Orange, and so on—the label will generally say something about “to stop licking”. These are applied to unbroken skin AROUND the incision, so use a cotton swab to help with that. Also, when you apply this stuff, it helps to give your dog or cat a good full-strength taste of it so they will know how bad the stuff you are painting on them will be. A big yucky taste plus seeing you put it on them can often be enough to stop the licking right then. Occasionally, a pet may actually LIKE the flavor. If you give them a good taste of it before you use it and they want more, that would help you know to look for a different product.

Wait. It is late and all the stores near me are closed. What can I do?

Solid deodorant sometimes will work to stop licking—same thing, apply it around the incision. Too much of this can be bad for your pet, though, so if he or she continues licking, you will need to find another solution.

T shirts and onsies can also work to help block licking. Gather the t-shirt over the back near your dog’s waist, to keep it from hanging, and wrap the gathered bunch with white tape (do not tape to your pet!). Onsies need to be months, and these work well on little dogs and some cats. Snap between your pet’s back legs and tail between snaps. Unsnap and roll forward at potty time.  For male dogs, sometimes toddler underwear or pull-ups can be used. Finally, for some smaller pets including cats, you can take a tube sock and modify it by cutting holes for head and legs—just make sure it is long enough to cover the affected area.

-Dr. Lisa Chassy, Director of Public Spay/Neuter Programs, Young-Williams Animal Center Spay/Neuter Solutions


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