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May 20, 2011 9:07 AM   Subscribe

My 2 year old Cocker Spaniel, Molly, is at the vet right now getting spayed. I know she's going to get fat, what other changes can I expect?

I'm a bit of a hypochondriac for my dog, if her habits change even a little I watch her like a hawk to make sure she isn't dying (yes, she's my first dog). So I'd like to know what might be normal so I don't freak out and abnormal so I can help her. Right now she's a social, noisy, easily excitable and completely silly puppy. What has been your experience with your dogs behaviour post-fixing?


PS - Any tips for her recovery the next couple days would be appreciated as well.
posted by Carlotta Bananas to Pets & Animals (21 answers total)
Nonono - don't take 'getting fat' as a given. Fight it! Overweight is just as harmful to dogs as it is to people, causing all kinds of health problems. Remember, your dog can't drive herself to McDonald's! Her weight is in YOUR control. Portion control and exercise are where it's at.

As for behavioral changes, well, I dunno. My Kenda obligatory pic was spayed at six months. She was a nutso puppy before and she was a nutso puppy afterward. Follow your vet's advice about post-surgery recovery and keep an eye on the incision for infection. Spaying is a completely routine surgery, so try not to get too stressed about it.
posted by workerant at 9:18 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry, I should have said "she'll try to get fat". I keep her exercised and portion-controlled.
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 9:22 AM on May 20, 2011

My dog was a pretty shell-shocked for a few days. Shaking, etc.

To be honest, she was a nutso puppy before, not afraid of anything, and while her littermate brother is still a nutso 3 year old, not afraid of anything, the little girl has never been exactly the same. She's afraid of noises, kids ,and all sorts of stuff her brother is not) and it really happened right around that time. Could be coincidental, but I've always thought she has never been the same as pre-spaying.
posted by Pax at 9:26 AM on May 20, 2011

It's very difficult to answer the question without a picture.
posted by bluejayway at 9:35 AM on May 20, 2011 [12 favorites]

She will be woozy for a little bit. She might have a personality change for a bit, as she did just have surgery and is recovering. But that shouldn't last that long. Then she will be back to playful. That is the hard part, as you want to keep her mellow so as to not pull out the stitches. Maybe give her activities that involve chewing instead of running around.

Also, yes. Hard to tell without a picture.
posted by Vaike at 9:40 AM on May 20, 2011

My dog is a boy, but I took a few days off work and spent every minute with him. He was all woozy and I put a futon mattress on the ground and we would just hang out and watch movies, etc. I tried to be pretty relaxed around him and make him feel safe.

This probably sounds basic, but I've found that my dogs FREAK if they are sick and feel like you might leave them behind (like they'll get ditched from the pack because they are weak), so I've found that the staying with them as much as possible until they are better approach works well at reducing anxiety...
posted by Acer_saccharum at 9:50 AM on May 20, 2011

When my Manchester terrier was spayed, many years ago, I feared she would have several days' worth of pain and I made arrangements to stay home with her. I was supposed to pick her up at 5 pm from the vet's, but I got a call at 2 pm saying "would you please come pick her up?" Odd, I thought, and went there.

The vet said "she woke up, and started bouncing around in the cage. She won't settle down and she is trying to get the other dogs to play."

During the recitation of aftercare, it went: "make sure she doesn't try to pull out her stitches, here's a radar dish if you need it; keep her calm (good luck), make sure she has plenty of water and a soft place to lie down."

She came home and wanted to play just as always. She never ever got fat. I did have to use the radar dish after a few days, but only until the end of the week when she got her stitches out.
posted by jet_silver at 9:54 AM on May 20, 2011

FWIW our seven-year-old Boxer is spayed, is quite sleek and not at all fat, and self-regulates her own food. When her bowl is empty, we fill it. It is not a given that a spayed or neutered pet will gain weight or need extra-ordinary measures to stay in good form.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:03 AM on May 20, 2011

My puppy, Teyla, was spayed at 6 months and even though I was worried sick during the surgery (because even though I knew that the likelihood of her dying is low, I just can't stand the idea of it) she didn't have any behavioral changes.

Pax's dog's surgery may have triggered the change in their dog's personality, but most likely the dog was going through a fear stage. (Note: I don't know if that stuff is developmentally tested or not but it was very true for my puppy.)
posted by saveyoursanity at 11:29 AM on May 20, 2011

My puppy is calmer but still a puppy, still likes to jump and play.

Immediately following the spay, she was very mellow. The pain medication they give dogs has a sedative in it, so the first 72 hours or so are calmer than usual. Which is good, because unless your dog is wearing an e-collar, you need to keep an eye on them so they do not lick/bite their stitches.

My puppy is no heavier and no less puppy, though.
posted by anya32 at 11:32 AM on May 20, 2011

Our adult cocker spaniel got spayed a few weeks after we adopted her from a shelter. It's hard to know how her behavior changed since she hadn't really settled in before getting the surgery. Here are some things about her though: She would get fat if we didn't limit her food. She is very food motivated. This may be due to a traumatic neglect situation in her past and not hormonal. She is social and noisy, with some anxiety around strangers.

I wouldn't worry too much about behavioral changes tbqh. Also apparently being spayed reduces her risk of some cancers, so yay!

For short-term recovery: if the painkillers make her constipated, give her some canned pumpkin. Yumyum.
posted by thirteenkiller at 11:38 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a fixed springer spaniel. He doesn't have any weight issues as long as I watch his food intake. He's 8 and as playful as a puppy.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:10 PM on May 20, 2011

Gert, who is now a ripe old 14 years, never got fat and is still the (relatively) crazy dog she was before spaying. I was heartbroken when I picked her up to find her muzzle all stained and teary - totally anthropomorphizing, I thought she was horribly traumatized. Fast forward to this year, when we had Sally spayed (at a different vet), who told me not to worry about her eyes, post surgery.. they just put an ointment in them to keep them moisturized. Both dogs were pretty mellow the first day or two, but recovered in a remarkably short time.
posted by sarajane at 2:29 PM on May 20, 2011

Lara (Siberian Husky) was spayed at 6 months, and is well within normal weight at 3 years. I didn't notice any type of personality change (once she recovered).

She spent a couple of days pretty laid back on the meds. The cone of shame did NOT work for a husky, I finally gave up, and spent about 4 days watching her so she wouldn't lick/chew the stitches. Trying to keep her from running meant she was on the leash all the time for a few days, then I gave up on that as well.

She was fine and doesn't hold it against me unless someone starts talking about puppies and I get a "why did you do that to me?" look. I then remind her that the little buggers would be attached to her stomach for weeks with sharp little teeth and she thinks about it and forgives me.
posted by tomswift at 3:04 PM on May 20, 2011

Update! Molly is a sad, sad little dog. She needed help into the car, but took the eight front steps willingly. I put her in her clean blanketed crate (which she normally is perfectly fine hanging out in) and she lies down (yay!) but cries (boo!). So I let her out and she stands and sways alarmingly in the middle of the living room and stares at the floor for prolonged periods. But she's not crying. I think she's asleep on her feet. One side of her belly is quite a bit larger than the other, but not taut or hot or tender. She's shown no interest in food, had a small drink and doesn't need the cone yet as movement of any kind isn't high on her list. She was trembling a little so I modified a cardigan into a dog coat (doesn't touch her belly). I think I expected her to be more alert by now (8 hours later), she doesn't flinch at sounds or movement around her.

Also, mock me if you like, I... *cough* don't know how to post a picture...
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 4:58 PM on May 20, 2011

She probably doesn't want to be alone in the crate right now. Can you move her blanket/bed to where you're hanging out and let her lie down near you? And re her alertness, she really just needs to sleep off the anaesthesia; she'll probably be much perkier in 24 hours. And hungry!
posted by DarlingBri at 5:54 PM on May 20, 2011

Make sure you have pain meds for her (more than just an NSAID like Rimadyl or Deramaxx, although you should have an NSAID too) and give them as prescribed. If your vet didn't give you any, demand some, only vets who are completely out of touch with modern thinking about pain management eschew pain meds for abdominal surgery these days (ESPECIALLY for a mature spay). If she is shaking, she may be painful.

Keep her quiet for at least a week, and anticipate that her appetite will increase pretty much right away. She will feel better before she is truly ready to run around. NO LICKING THE INCISION! Try a t-shirt or something if she is trying, or make your own bite-not collar.

She is lucky to have you!
posted by biscotti at 6:15 PM on May 20, 2011

When we had our dog fixed she found a spot she could hide and slept, they know they are vulnerable and want a safe quite place to recover. She recovered nicely and was her normal self in a couple of days.
posted by sandyp at 6:50 PM on May 20, 2011

Late to the party here, I never noticed a permanent change in behavior with the female. The males did tone down the aggressiveness and scent-marking, but even that took at least a month to really see a difference.

I've always thought my dogs were more freaked out by the whole vet/medical experience, because they'd never stayed somewhere and let someone else poke and prod like that before. And it's not like you can explain to the dog what's going on. In fact, I felt like they were resentful (talk about your anthropomorphism) because I left them there and when they woke up, they hurt, and it WAS YOUR FAULT, LADY! So for breakfast the next day I usually scramble them an egg and cuddle until they forgive me.

(My dogs generally stayed at the vet overnight after the surgery, but it sounds like Molly came home earlier than that. One of the reasons I had them stay was that the vet keeps them sedated the remainder of the day after the surgery so they sleep, so I bet Molly is still feeling that anesthesia pretty strongly. Or was last night, anyway. )
posted by Jaie at 11:41 AM on May 21, 2011

How's she doing?

Lara hid under furniture for a couple of days after the surgery... and made some pretty pitiful sounds.... sad puppies....
posted by tomswift at 7:12 PM on May 21, 2011

Kaylee (then & now) was subdued for a couple days, but had no permanent personality change. I lived in an RV at the time so there wasn't really an issue of giving her a smaller area to lounge in. I also had to have her on a leash for potty breaks (no fenced yard), so that wasn't an issue as well.

Do you have a flickr account? Or any other photo hosting account? Just copy/paste the url into a comment here and you'll have posted her photo.
posted by deborah at 12:13 PM on May 23, 2011

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