Spaying or neutering a dog is just part of responsible pet ownership. Male dogs can be extremely aggressive if not neutered, and female dogs are difficult to deal with when they are in heat. Spaying and neutering end most of the behavior problems as well as most of the mess associated with dogs in heat and canine sexual drives.
However, as a responsible pet owner, you will also want to take good care of your dog after the surgery. Healing is important, but most dogs will get in the way of proper healing by over-licking or biting the surgical site. Here are a few products that to consider purchasing in preparation for your dogs recovery.
5 - The Recovery Cone
Yes, the clear plastic cone, this has historically been the most common solution to preventing a dog from licking sutures of getting to a sensitive area. Most vets will provide you with a cone to put over and around your dog's head. If not, they can easily be purchased at any pet store and even some large grocery stores. The plastic cone is a good first line of defense. The problem with cones is that they can be very uncomfortable and disorienting for your dog. Many pets find is challenging, to eat, drink, and maneuver throughout the house. Even curling up for a nap can be a stressful experience.
Soft, adjustable recovery cones are easier to put on, and certainly comfier to wear around the house. The recovery cone adjusts to fit any dog's neck, making it ideal for any dog of any size. The easy-to-release Velcro tabbing means you can get it off your dog in a hurry, if need be, and your dog cannot get it off without opposable thumbs (which he/she doesn't have). Soft cones do tend to be less durable than their plastic counterparts, which means your dog will tear through it that much quicker when they decide it’s something to chew. Soft cones also obstruct your pet’s field of vision, so these are two things to consider when choosing between the two.
PRO: Readily available. Most Affordable.
CON: Disorienting. Uncomfortable.
Here is a link to my favorite recovery cones.
4 - The Inflatable Donut
If you are looking for a cone alternative, there are a lot of products that fall under this category. One of the most popular cone alternatives is the Inflatable Donut (also know as “Comfy Cone” or “Soft Collar”). This soft ring fits around the dog’s neck, and is much less invasive than the traditional cone. The collar discourages the dog from licking or biting, while allowing them to eat, drink and maneuver around the home with relative ease.
Although certainly more comfortable to the touch than a plastic cone, many dogs react the same and simply will not tolerate the inflatable donut. Understandably, I would be quite bothered by the foreign object around their neck as well. Also, be sure to keep an eye on your pooch, long narrow dogs especially may be able to wrap around and get at sutures even with the inflatable donut around their neck.
PRO: More comfortable than the traditional “Cone of Shame”
CON: Not recommended for longer dog breeds.
3 - Belly Bands
Doggy belly bands are usually used for male dogs who you are trying to prevent from breeding, or male puppies that are not fully potty-trained yet. However, these belly bands are equally effective at covering surgical sites in both male and female dogs. They wrap around your dog's torso back by the back legs and secure with velcro or snaps on your dog's back. Ensure that the band is attached tightly or it may slide and begin to irritate the sutures, or allow enough room for a snout to weasel its way inside.
For female dogs, it leaves them free to go to the bathroom while protecting their spaying site. For male dogs you could insert urine collection pads just in case your dog pees before you are able to get the belly band off in time. Male dogs are free to defecate with this product on too, and because the product only goes around the belly, no fecal matter ever touches the band.
Belly Bands is not made of a fully breathable material, due to the water proof coatings which keeps accidents from escaping. Monitor your dog, make sure there is no discharge from the sutures, and that your dog is not sweating. If that is the case, give the surgery site time to air out and dry or a rash may develop, or worse, the sutures may dissolve prematurely. Breathability is very important post-surgery as the incision site needs to remain dry in order to heal properly.
PRO: Minimal disruption. Easy to put on.
CON: Non-breathable. May irritate surgery site.
2 - Doggy Diapers
This solution isn't for every pet owner as it is the most labor intensive option, but it may be the right solution for you. You will need multiple disposable Doggy diapers that come up far enough on your dog's belly to cover the surgery site.
The diapers themselves should leave no room for your dog to bite at the wounds. The diapers have to be secured well enough that they do not come loose or cause friction over the wounds. The best disposable product is the one that fits and stays put. One may go through 3 or more disposable diapers per day depending on your pet bathroom break frequency. Checking and replacing soiled dog diapers is likely not your pastime of choice, but we do what we need to for our beloved pups.
Pro: Minimal disruption.
CON: Expensive. Labor intensive.
1 - Belly Guard Dog Recovery Onesie
A dog recovery onesie is an excellent recovery solution because it doesn't draw attention to the fact that your dog has had surgery and it is easy to use. Most people like dressing up their pooches anyway, and these recovery onesies allow you to protect your dog's surgical site while dressing him/her. It is perfect for any size dog because it is made of stretchy, flexible material that moves with your dog.
The "rear flap" piece wraps up from the belly around the tail and snaps to the back of the onesie on either side of the tail. When and if your dog needs to go to the bathroom, simply unsnap the rear piece, pull it back to snap to another snap on the back and let your dog go out. When he/she is done, simply re-snap the tag piece to the two snaps on the back end and your dog is good to go. No need to completely remove the onesie! The comfortable cotton completely covers the surgery site for male and female dog and is enough to deter the dog from licking or biting. Do be sure to monitor your dog, especially if they are a known chewer. Like with any recovery product, if the dog is determined enough, they can overcome the protection and get at the surgery site.
PRO: Comfortable, Minimal Disruption.
CON: Requires measurement of Dog.
Ultimately, it is your choice what you choose for spay and neuter care after your dog has had the surgery. You may have to try more than one option, or decide that one of the best options above is the best of the best. Keep in mind that whatever you choose, you may want to get more than two weeks' use out of the product, and that many of these products are very temporary use items despite being the best on the market. Others, like the recovery onesie for spay and neuter care, can be used indefinitely since it looks and fits just like a doggie sweater.
Whichever product you choose, do be sure to monitor your dog, especially if they are a known chewer. If the dog is determined enough, they can overcome the protection of any recovery product and get at the surgery site.