As a cool pet owner, think carefully about every decision you make when it comes to your dog’s health. Sterilization surgery is one of the most common surgeries on dogs, and although it offers many benefits to a dog’s health, it still carries some risks. If you are considering sterilizing your dog, take a minute to identify potential complications so you can discuss it with your veterinarian before surgery.
Risks and Complications
Fortunately, the risks and complications of this surgery are rare. Sterilization and testicular surgery are among the most common surgeries performed in a regular small animal hospital and a regular veterinarian has extensive experience with these procedures. Risks and complications, though rare, may include:
- Damage to or obstruction of a ureter
- Incomplete removal of the ovary or uterus
- Urinary incontinence
- Dehiscence (the incision opening up)
- Post-operative trauma to the incision by the patient
- Excessive blood loss – the risk of blood loss is higher in those animals who are pregnant, have a pyometra or are in heat at the time of the surgery
- Anesthetic complications
The most common complications
The good news is that the most common complication of sterilization is the dog’s trauma to the surgical site. This can be completely prevented by keeping your dog quiet after surgery and by making your dog wear an electronic collar as directed by your vet.
Dogs that are not forced to wear electronic collars may remove their strings, or cause skin infections by licking or scratching them in their hind claws. Allowing your dog to be overly active can tear his strings away.
The best way to help your dog avoid complications from sterilization is simple: follow the instructions of your vet. Make your dog calm and quiet while recovering and make sure that he is wearing his electronic collar and that he cannot reach the crevice site while he is recovering.
Constipation after surgery
Your dog may experience some constipation after being sterilized. Many dogs do not experience bowel movements for two to three days after surgery. This is due to a number of factors, including the fact that your dog has fasted before surgery and may not have an appetite when returning home. If your dog is in pain, he will also not like a bowel movement.
While many dogs will resume regular bowel movements on their own, if your dog does not have bowel movement at home on the fifth day, you will need some treatment. You can add Metamucil to its diet to help soften stools. Metamucil can be given in a dose of half a teaspoon twice a day for small dogs, and larger dogs can contain two teaspoons twice a day, but check with your veterinarian for an accurate dose of your dog.
You can mix Metamucil with canned food, which makes it more palatable. If your dog appears uncomfortable or continues without a bowel movement, seek advice from your vet.
Hernia after sterilization surgery
Dogs can also develop hernias after sterilization surgery. If the dog is very active after surgery, it can tear the sutures into the abdominal wall. This can lead to a severe hernia that may need to be corrected with a second surgery.
If your dog has a hernia following sterilization surgery, you may notice a soft tumor on his stomach that gradually changes in size and shape. Your veterinarian will take x-rays on the dog’s abdomen to diagnose hernia and will recommend either surgical correction or the use of medications to help the hernia recover.
Urinary incontinence in infected dogs
In some cases, dog sterilization may lead to enuresis. While enuresis can be caused by multiple factors, the hormonal imbalances that can result after sterilization surgery are one of the possible causes of the condition.
Dog urine tissue must be exposed to enough estrogen in order for it to function normally, but removing the dog’s ovary reduces estrogen levels. When the dog’s body does not have enough estrogen, the urethral sphincter – the muscles that control urine excretion – can relax, which leads to urinary incontinence. Enuresis often occurs when the dog sleeps, and his muscles are relaxed.
Urinary incontinence in dogs can be treated with a number of different medications including diethylstilbestrol, the synthetic estrogen hormone. Diethylstilboestrol can be given only once per week, while other drugs like Phenylpropanolamine should be given two to three times a day.
Weight gain after sterilization surgery
Sterilization surgery may increase the dog’s weight. Dog metabolism changes caused by sterilization surgery can lead to obesity in dogs. One study found that infected dogs were twice as likely to be obese than healthy female dogs.
Unfortunately, obesity can cause many other health problems in the dog including the risk of torn cruciate ligament, mouth diseases, hypothyroidism, pancreatitis and more.
If your dog is overweight after sterilization surgery, it is important to discuss weight management techniques with your veterinarian. Your dog may need diet changes, increase exercise, and more actively manage weight to help keep him healthy.
Complications of sterilization anesthesia
Sterilization is a very common procedure but requires sedation. Anesthesia is performed at any time, and the anesthesia itself carries some risks to your pet. Anesthesia carries a risk of serious complications, including death. Ensuring your pet’s health before undergoing surgery can help reduce the risk of complications from anesthesia.
Note that the risks of anesthesia are very low. Modern anesthesia and monitoring equipment that the vet will use reduces the possibility of a problem during surgery. It is often said that your dog will have a greater chance of getting into a car accident than having complications during anesthesia for surgery.
The risks of complications in different pets
You are right to be concerned about the possible sterilization complications your dog may face, but it is important to understand the individual risk factors for your pet. Some pets are at increased risk of complications, and this may affect your decision about whether or not your dog has been sterilized. Older dogs, or those with additional health problems, or who feel hot at the time of sterilization, are more likely to experience complications during sterilization surgery than other dogs.
To keep your pet safe, discuss any concerns you have about complications with your vet before your dog undergoes surgery. Warn the vet of any medications your pet takes, including nutritional supplements that you may give that the vet does not know. Your veterinarian can discuss any risk factors your dog has together, and you can weigh the risks and benefits of sterilization surgery.
What do you expect after dog sterilization?
Sleeping, sleeping, or agitated on the first day. A small amount of blood around the site of surgery on the first day and a small amount of swelling and redness for a week. If your dog is hot, he may have secretions for a few days. A green tattoo that distinguishes it as disabled.