Post-Surgery Care

After your animal's spay or neuter surgery, you'll want to provide the following care at home:

  • Keep your cat confined to the house for seven (7) days, dogs on leash walks only for seven (7) days. For the first 24 hours after surgery, it is especially important to keep pets warm and quiet.
  • If your pet seems interested, offer a small amount of food and water after 7:00 p.m. If your pet is still drowsy, or if he/she vomits, wait until the following morning to offer food. If your pet keeps this down, you may repeat another mini meal in an hour or so. If your pet is not eating or drinking by the next afternoon, please call us.
  • Pets under four months of age should eat as soon as you get home. If your pet does not eat his/her regular food, try feeding canned or baby food to entice him/her to eat.
  • No swimming or bathing allowed for ten (10) days after surgery.
  • Do not permit any rough handling or exercise of your pet by anyone for seven days.
  • Be especially careful to warn children not to touch the pet's stomach.
  • Discourage biting, scratching, or licking at the incision site; it can cause a great deal of inflammation or oozing around the site. If your pet is licking at the incision, please use the cone that has been dispensed or return to the clinic to obtain one.
  • For male cats, use newspaper instead of litter for the first 24 hours after surgery.

On occasion, an animal may experience side effects following spay or neuter surgery; here are a few things to watch for:

Anesthetic Effects:

  • Cat owners will notice some head bobbing and weaving, and your cat's eyes may have a glassy appearance. S/he may also be a little quiet but should return to normal the next day.
  • Dog owners may notice that their dog shivers, trembles, or salivates. Your dog may break his/her housetraining so you may want to keep him/her confined to the bathroom or kitchen until the anesthetic has worn off.

Bleeding / Bruising:

  • There may be a small amount of blood seeping from the incision. If this persists, please call us. Bruising under or near the spay site is normal, this should resolve itself, but if it seems extensive, please call.


  • DO NOT let your pet lick the incision site. All pets, with the exception of male cats, will go home with a cone. Your pet needs to wear this while the incision is healing.


There is no need to return to the SF SPCA clinic for suture removal; the sutures that we use are self-dissolving. Some female cats and dogs develop swelling about the size of a walnut around or under the incision site within the first week. It is usually a reaction to the underlying tissue sutures. This is NOT a problem and can take up to a month to resolve, but if the swelling increases or other abnormalities are noted, please call us.

Check the incision area daily for redness, swelling or discharge. Any problems directly related to the surgery will be treated and covered by the SF SPCA Spay/Neuter Clinic under the following guidelines:

  • For any complications arising between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., 7 days per week, please call 554-3030 and return to the SF SPCA for follow-up care.
  • For after hours emergencies, 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., 7 days per week, please seek care at Pets Unlimited Veterinary Center at 2343 Fillmore Street, 415-563-6700.

If you choose to seek veterinary care at any other facility, the financial responsibility will be solely yours.

Download this information on post-surgery care in a PDF format:

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For an appointment, call 415-554-3030.
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Leanne B. Roberts Animal Care Center
201 Alabama St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
For an appointment, call 415-563-6700
Open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Pets Unlimited
2343 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115-1812