What is the normal recovery time for neuter surgeries?

We just had our 4.5 pound Maltese male nutered. What shoud we expect? He has eaten and drank, however he just stands with his tail...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Feb 16th 2008


We just had our 4.5 pound Maltese male nutered.
What shoud we expect? He has eaten and drank,
however he just stands with his tail down and
seems very out of it. How long will this last?
When should we worry ? He did also have 4 baby
teeth pulled at the same time.

Jennifer
Port Huron, MI

The scenario you describe is quite common. To neuter a pet humanely, anesthesia is required. Following anesthesia, some pets will have “hangovers.” They may be sleepy, nauseated, reluctant to eat, have difficulty walking, and be more (or less) affectionate than they normally are. The strength and duration of this phenomenon depends on the type of anesthesia used, the animal’s age (younger animals generally recover faster), and the animal’s individual susceptibility to anesthesia side effects.

Most dogs are young when they are neutered. And, modern anesthetic agents have much shorter hangover periods than those used ten years ago. Most dogs and cats do not display residual effects from anesthesia for more than 24 – 48 hours after they are neutered. (Spays, which are the female equivlents of neuters, have slightly longer recovery periods.)

In addition to residual anesthesia effects, pain can occur after surgery or dental procedures. And, based on your description, I am worried that your dog may have been in pain at the time you wrote to me. Some dogs whine or pant when they are in pain. Others act shy and withdrawn, and may be reluctant to move or lie down.

Most vets I know are happy to answer questions from people whose pets are recovering from surgery. If you suspect that your pet is in pain, or if you are worried about lingering effects from anesthesia, I recommend that you call your vet.