How long does it take for spay incision to heal?

A spay surgery, also known as an ovariohysterectomy, is a procedure performed on female dogs and cats to remove their ovaries and uterus. This prevents them from going into heat, getting pregnant, and developing certain reproductive cancers. After a spay surgery, the incision site will go through a healing process before it is completely closed up and recovered.

Quick Answers

It typically takes 7-14 days for a spay incision to fully heal. However, the healing process can vary depending on factors like the size and health of your pet, surgical techniques used, and how well you care for the incision site.

Here is a quick overview of the spay incision healing timeline:

  • Days 1-2: Incision is swollen and mildly inflamed. Your pet wearing an E-collar to prevent licking.
  • Days 3-7: Swelling goes down. Incision site looks less red. Sutures may be removed around day 7-10.
  • Days 7-14: Incision continues closing up. Only a thin scar remains. E-collar can be removed once fully healed.
  • Day 14+: Incision fully healed. Fur starting to grow back over the area.

What Does a Healing Spay Incision Look Like?

Here’s what to expect as your pet’s spay incision goes through the healing process:

Days 1-2 After Surgery

The incision site will be swollen and mildly inflamed. Your vet likely used surgical glue and dissolvable sutures under your pet’s skin to close the incision, so you won’t see stitches on the surface. Mild bleeding and bruising around the incision is normal.

Your pet will be sent home wearing an E-collar to prevent licking and biting at the incision site. You may notice some bloody discharge on the E-collar as the incision oozes slightly.

Days 3-7 After Surgery

The swelling, inflammation, and discharge from the incision will decrease during this time. The area may look less red, though some bruising could still be visible.

Your vet will have you bring your pet back around day 7-10 to be checked and have any skin sutures removed if necessary. Deeper sutures will dissolve on their own.

Days 7-14 After Surgery

The incision will continue closing up, leaving only a thin pink scar along the healing skin. In some cases, surgical glue may still be visible. Any bruising, tenderness, and oozing should be minimal.

Once the incision is fully closed with no discharge, the E-collar can be removed as the risk of licking and irritation decreases. However, some pets may try to lick at the site and require the E-collar for a longer duration.

2+ Weeks After Surgery

After 14 days, the incision should be fully healed, with only a thin scar remaining. The skin has sealed over the surgical site. Fur will begin growing back over the area, covering up the scar.

Your vet may recommend returning 2-3 weeks after surgery for a recheck exam to ensure proper healing. But in most cases, you can consider the spay incision healed by 14 days post-op.

What Factors Affect Healing Time?

While the typical recovery timeline for a spay incision is about 7-14 days, several factors can influence the healing process:

Size of the Pet

Smaller dogs and cats require a smaller incision than larger breeds. This may lead to slightly faster healing time in smaller pets. Large and giant breed dogs have longer incisions that take more time to fully close up.

Age and Health

Puppies and kittens heal quicker than older, senior pets. Any health issues like obesity, diabetes, or immunosuppression can delay wound healing.

Surgical Techniques

Simple techniques like skin glue may heal faster than more invasive suturing methods. Less surgical trauma to the tissues can promote quicker healing.

Activity Level

Pets should be restricted from running, jumping, or playing for 7-14 days post-surgery. More activity and movement can disrupt the incision healing.

Licking the Incision

Dogs and cats trying to lick, chew, or scratch at their incision will delay healing. E-collars are important to limit this behavior.

Caring for the Incision Site

Proper at-home care after your pet’s spay surgery is crucial for proper and timely healing. Here are important tips for caring for the incision site:

  • Use an E-collar at all times until the incision is fully healed to prevent licking.
  • Check the incision twice daily for redness, swelling, discharge which could indicate infection.
  • Avoid bathing and getting the incision wet for 7-10 days.
  • Restrict activity like running and jumping for at least 10-14 days.
  • Give any prescribed pain or antibiotic medications as directed.
  • Keep your pet indoors away from dirt and debris that could irritate the healing incision.
  • Attend all recheck vet appointments for incision checks and suture removal.

Call your vet if you notice increased swelling, oozing, bleeding or signs of pain at the surgery site, as these can indicate complications.

Recovery Timeline & Checklist

Here is an approximate recovery timeline for a routine spay incision, with healing milestones and at-home care tips:

Recovery Timeline Incision Appearance At-Home Care
Days 1-2 Swelling and mild discharge E-collar on at all times. Limit activity.
Days 3-7 Less swelling/redness Check incision site twice daily. Give medications.
Days 7-10 Scabbed over Return for possible suture removal.
Days 10-14 Incision continues closing Call vet if increased swelling/discharge.
14+ Days Fully healed incision E-collar can be removed. Fur regrowth.

Signs of Infection

While most spay incisions heal without issue, improper healing and infection are possible complications. Contact your vet if you notice any of these signs:

  • Unusual swelling at incision site
  • Green/yellow discharge or pus oozing from incision
  • Foul odor coming from incision
  • Hot to the touch around incision
  • Bleeding or increased redness at incision
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating
  • Loss of appetite or lethargy
  • Persistent whimpering/crying from pain

Symptoms of infection typically arise 3-5 days after surgery but can occur any time during the healing process. If treated quickly, antibiotics can clear up most incision infections.

When to Call the Vet

Contact your vet promptly if you notice any of the following issues which may require an urgent recheck appointment:

  • Signs of infection like pus, fever, or foul odor
  • Bleeding that won’t stop or large hematomas
  • Loss of sutures or reopened incisions
  • Difficulty urinating combined with vomiting/lethargy
  • Abscesses or granulomas forming near incision
  • Weakness in legs or dragging of limbs indicating nerve damage

Severe complications from spay surgery are not common but can become serious without quick treatment. Alert your vet to any abnormal healing.

Long-Term Aftercare

Once your pet’s spay incision has fully closed and is deemed healed by your vet, there is minimal aftercare needed. Monitor the area for any signs of swelling or discharge which could indicate an underlying issue.

The shaved fur should regrow in 1-2 months, completely covering the incision site. In some cases, a visible scar may remain long-term.

There is no need for re-suture or additional surgery unless the incision reopens. Follow up with annual vet exams to ensure proper healing internally.

Having your pet spayed eliminates the risk of reproductive cancers and infections later in life. Overall, the long-term outlook is excellent post-spay with your pet enjoying a healthy life!


A spay surgery is a routine procedure with a typical recovery period of 7-14 days until the incision fully heals. While swelling and mild discharge early on is normal, contact your vet promptly about signs of infection or excessive oozing/bleeding from the incision.

Careful incision monitoring, restricted activity, and E-collars are key to proper external healing. Follow all your vet’s advice and instructions for medications, rechecks, and limiting activity during the recovery period.

Most spay incisions heal without issue as long as licking is prevented. Within 2-3 weeks, your pet’s incision should be a sealed scar and their health can benefit long-term from the spay surgery.

Leave a Comment