Dog Bath After Spaying: Tips for Keeping Your Pet Clean and Comfortable

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Picture this: your beloved Ruby has just returned home after her spaying surgery, and despite the vet’s clear instructions, she decided to roll in something utterly unspeakable.

Naturally, you’re itching to give her a bath, but you’re also nervous about harming her delicate, post-op self.

When is the best time for a dog bath after spaying?

Read on as I shed some light on the best practices and what you should look out for.

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When Can I Bathe My Dog After Spaying/Neutering?

When Can I Bathe My Dog After Spaying or Neutering

I recommend you wait at least 14 days before bathing your dog after spaying or neutering.

Don’t be in a hurry to give your dog a bath. Remember that your pet has just undergone surgery and will still be in some pain.

Moving them around will be very uncomfortable even if you try to do it gently. Plus, you are not supposed to get the incision site wet.

It is necessary to wait until the incision wound has healed before giving them a proper bath. This usually takes around two weeks or 14 days. 

Is this a fixed number of days? No. The healing time may vary depending on your pet’s individual situation. 

Some pets could take longer to heal because of their size, age, and general health.

How to Bathe a Dog After Spaying?

How to Bathe a Dog After Spaying?

Spaying is a major surgical procedure, which means that your pet will need some time to heal from the procedure.

So, for the next 14 days, the only bath you can give them is a dry one.

A dry bath uses special products like waterless shampoo (aka dry shampoo) or pet wipes to keep your furry pal clean and smelling fresh.

How Do You Wash a Dog Without a Bath?

Now that you know you’re not supposed to submerge your pet in water right after a spaying procedure, you may be wondering how you’d be able to keep them clean for the next two weeks.

As mentioned above, there is such a thing as dry bathing.

It’s not as good as proper bathing with a tub of water and canine shampoo, but it should be good enough to keep them feeling fresh after a big surgery.

How do I give my dog a dry bath?

The steps to dry bathing depends on what you’re going to use.

If you opt for a dry or waterless shampoo, all you’d need to do is to apply the product all over your pet’s body and gently rub it into the skin. 

Let the shampoo work its magic for a few minutes then gently wipe or brush away the residue.

Wet wipes are simpler to use. Just get one sheet and gently rub your pet’s skin with it. Do this until you’ve cleaned your furry pal all over.

Do not rub the incision site!

Be extra careful when wiping near the eyes, to avoid getting any of the product in them. 

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Should I Bathe My Dog Before or After Spay?

I personally think that it’s a great idea to bathe your pet right before their appointment with the vet.

This is the last time that they can get properly cleaned before their big surgery, so be sure to scrub them really well with their favorite doggy shampoo.

As for after the surgery, stick to dry baths until the surgical site is closed and dried. 

Any further irritation can lead to your dog scratching at the incision site and slowing the recovery.

It is ideal to wait about two weeks, but you still need to check whether the wound is fully healed before giving your pet a wet bath. 

If the wound is still open or is red and swollen, do not bathe your pet even if the two-week period has already elapsed.

Why You Shouldn’t Bathe Your Dog After Spay?

You wouldn’t want to get the incision wet because not only can it cause infection to the wound, but it would also prolong the healing period for your dog.

Most sutures used for closing surgical incisions are now designed to dissolve in time as the incision wound heals, so there is no need to remove them after. 

However, getting the wound area wet may cause the suture to dissolve earlier than it should.

This eventually might lead to the wound reopening and your poor pup will have to be taken back to the vet in case this happens. 

How Do I Clean an Incision Site After My Dog’s Surgery?

How Do I Clean an Incision Site After My Dog's Surgery

Cleaning the incision site should be left to the professionals and unless your vet tells you to do so, it’s best that you stay away from that area especially when giving your pet a dry bath.

Now, if you have been instructed to do so, you can clean the area by pouring a little bit of saline solution onto the incision site using a spray bottle or a bulb syringe. 

Rinse any visible dirt off then dry the area with a clean gauze or sterile pad. Remember to use a gentle dabbing motion.

DO NOT RUB the skin! DO NOT SOAK the stitches as well. 

Repeat these steps until the area is sufficiently clean. 

How Do I Know If My Dog Has an Infection After Being Spayed?

You’ve kept your dog away from dirt and prevented them from licking the wound.

How come the incision site is still not healing properly? 

Well, maybe your pet has caught an infection.

Don’t feel bad. This can happen despite your best efforts.

Key signs that would let you know if your pet’s wound is infected are

  • Excessive discharge
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Emitting foul smell
  • Whimper or tense up in pain when you touch the area near the wound

How to Prevent Your Dog From Having Healing Issues After a Spay/Neuter

Your dog needs to take it easy for at least a week after getting spayed or neutered.

This means no running, jumping, or rough playing.

Do not get the incision site wet. No bathing! 

Personally, I think that the best solution is really to keep your dog rather inactive during these 2 weeks.

No outside walks or excessive activities = no injury or stink!

Stick to dry baths if you think your pet is starting to get stinky and remember to be gentle when you rub in the dry shampoo or use a pet wipe.

The wound will start getting itchy as it begins to heal. This is totally normal.

Unfortunately, the itching will make your pet want to lick or bite the wound.

Do your best to prevent this by using an Elizabethan collar.

You can also opt to use a diaper or a pet onesie to completely cover the wound area.

Keep a close eye on the incision wound and be sure to contact your vet as soon as you see any signs of infection such as excessive oozing or a funky smell.

Lastly, you must pay close attention during this period of time. Observe your furry pal for unusual behavior.

If your pet starts whimpering in pain or suddenly becomes lethargic, consider going to the vet for a quick checkup.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long after spay surgery can I bathe my dog?

Vets recommend that you wait from 10 days to 2 weeks after spay surgery to bathe your dog. By this time, the incision wound should be sufficiently healed even if the stitches are still there (if your vet used the kind that dissolves). 

Can I bathe my dog soon after spaying?

No, bathing soon after spaying may cause the wound to get infected. The skin near the incision could also become too soft to hold the stitch and cause the wound to reopen. It is best to wait for your vet’s go-signal before bathing your furry pal.

How long after spaying can my dog swim?

Any water-related activity should be put on hold for at least two weeks. Bathing and swimming should be avoided so that your pet can fully heal. 

Can I give my dog a bath if it has stitches?

It is best to wait until the stitches are fully dissolved before bathing your pet. Getting the area wet while it hasn’t completely healed yet can increase the risk of infection or reopening of the wound. This will delay the healing process and keep your pet in pain longer.

Why do dogs smell after being spayed?

Your pet’s fur holds bacteria. If this comes in contact with the bloody discharge from the incision wound, it can cause a weird smell. This smell is normal, especially since you can’t bathe your dog until the incision wound is clean. However, if the smell is really bad, then it could be a sign of infection.

Can I bathe my dog 10 days after spaying?

It’s generally best to wait 10-14 days before bathing your dog after spaying to allow the incision site to heal properly. Consult your vet for specific guidance based on your dog’s condition, as they may recommend a longer wait if necessary for your dog’s well-being.

Should I bathe my dog before neutering?

Yes, it’s a good idea to bathe your dog before neutering to reduce the risk of infection and maintain cleanliness during the recovery period. Doing so can ensure your dog is clean and dry on the day of the surgery to minimize complications and improve overall hygiene during the healing process.

In Conclusion: Dog Bath After Spaying

I suggest that you wash your dog before the operation and keep her clean when you’re back home. This way, she will be more comfortable and not stink up anyway.

If you do want to shower your dog, just make sure the wound is healed properly before doing so, or else, don’t risk it!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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