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Department of Health Services

Sonoma County Animal Services

Before and After Care for Spay or Neuter Surgery

Pre-operative Care

  • All animals must have food and water withdrawn the night before surgery at 12:00 midnight.
  • Animals must be in good health, so if your pet is showing any signs of illness such as coughing, sneezing, runny eyes, or diarrhea, it is possible that they will be declined for surgery.
  •  If you have current vaccination records, please bring them with you.

Post-operative Care

  • Your pet has just been spayed or neutered which includes general anesthesia and surgery. The following instructions should be followed carefully to ensure a safe and quick recovery.
  • General instructions for all animals:
  • Keep your pet confined where it will be quiet and warm.
  • DO NOT place it on a bed or other high place.
  • Keep your pet away from other animals and children for at least 12 hours.
  • Offer water and food in very small amounts for the first 12 hours. If vomiting occurs, do not give anything else by mouth until morning.
  • In general, lack of appetite, vomiting, or depression are related to anesthesia and may be normal following surgery. After 24 hours, any one of these symptoms may indicate a problem.
  • Check the incision daily for excessive swelling, redness, oozing, or separation. Some swelling is expected. Do not allow your animal to lick the incision area. If your pet licks the incision site you need to get an Elizabethan Collar from your veterinarian to prevent problems.

Follow These Rules for 10 Days After Surgery

Since the utmost care and superior surgical materials are used on our surgery patients, a post surgical problem seldom exists. However, because an animal walks horizontally, tremendous weight and pressure is exerted on a surgical incision. For this reason, the following rules should be followed for 10 days after surgery:

  • Your animal should be kept as quiet as possible.
  • Your animal should be kept in a clean indoor environment.
  • No suture removal is required, unless otherwise stated. Suture material will absorb.
  • On female animals, there may be green or black colored tattoo ink in the surgical glue sealing the incision.
  • Do not bathe, dip or flea spray your animal for a period of 7 days; Advantage, Frontline, etc., are okay.
  • Dogs must be walked only on a leash when outside and not allowed to jump or run.

Questions or Concerns?

Should any problems arise involving your animal's surgery within the first 72 hours only, please contact Sonoma County Animal Services at (707) 565-7100 and ask to speak with one of the veterinary technicians.

If it is after hours or in case of an emergency, have the on-call officer paged by calling the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department at (707) 565-2121 or for Santa Rosa City residents, call the Santa Rosa Police Department at (707) 528-5222 for further instructions.

  • If after 72 hours, take your pet to your vet if there are any concerns.