When Can I Let My Dog Go Swimming After A Spay/Neuter?

It’s summertime and you’re ready to head to the lake with your dog! Only problem is – he/she just got spayed/neutered! Can they still go in the water?

When can you let a dog go swimming after a surgery like a spay or neuter? As long as everything has healed normally and there haven’t been any issues, you can let your dog go swimming 10 days after surgery. However, if there’s been any issue with healing – the incision was red or swollen – you want to wait 10 days after the incision actually looked normal.

Why Does A Dog Need To Wait To Go Swimming After Surgery?

For uncomplicated spays and neuters, a dog can start back with its normal activities a week after the procedure. That includes the dog park, long walks, playing ball, etc.

However, for swimming activities or any type of water exposure in which the incision area will be submerged in water, I recommend waiting a total of 10 days. Why? If the incision hasn’t perfectly sealed under the skin, chlorinated or dirty water can irritate and inflame tissues that are trying to heal.

What Could Happen If I Take My Dog Swimming Too Soon After A Spay Or Neuter?

  • Too much activity too soon can cause pain, inflammation, and swelling around a healing incision
  • If there are skin sutures still present, the suture material can “wick” the chlorinated (if a pool) or dirty (if a body of water like a lake) water up under the skin.
  • Most spays and neuters don’t need antibiotics afterwards so getting the incision area dirty after surgery could result in infections

Can I Just Take My Dog To The Beach After Surgery Without Getting In The Water?

You may think it’d be okay with just taking your dog to the beach while you wait out the required time before they can get back in the water. However, if they like to roll in the sand that can be just as bad. Sand in an incision can be very irritating and uncomfortable by the time you get back home from the beach.

Here’s my advice – plan your life around the week that you’re getting your dog spayed/neutered so that you’re not going to the lake, dog park, etc. It’s just a week. Do it right and everything will heal quickly without complications.

What Do I Do If My Dog Jumped In The Water Anyway?

Pat dry the incision area with a towel and examine the incisional line. Are the edges separated? How much redness is there? Problems could develop right away or they may show up the next day.

One thing I would absolutely do if your dog jumped into the water too soon after a spay or neuter is put the e-collar back on if it’s not already on. Your dog will never be more tempted to lick that incision than after getting it wet so be prepared and head off this issue before it starts.

A little antibiotic ointment (a triple antibiotic/polysporin/Neosporin-type ointment) can also be helpful if you’re not sure if things are normal. A thin application right across the incision can help to soothe and soften the area. It might head off a potential infection or at the very least make the dog more comfortable.

When to call the vet? It’s time if the incision is swollen now after the swim, the edges have come apart, or there’s any discharge from the area.

Advice For Keeping Your Dog Quiet After A Spay Or Neuter

Telling a client that they need to keep their dog quiet after a spay or neuter can sometimes be the most controversial thing you’ll ever say to that person. Most dogs that have this surgery are young, playful, and somewhat crazy with energy. How on Earth is the average person supposed to keep their dog from being itself?

Here are my top tips for how to keep your dog quiet:

  • Don’t invite over any friends/family while your dog is recovering. The dog is going to feel great and might be bursting with energy and pent-up exuberance. Don’t tempt your dog into overdoing it by inviting over someone he/she loves.
  • Put away the toys and balls. Your dog loves to chase the ball? Put it away for a week. Has a favorite toy that he loves to toss it the air and go after? Put it away for a week. Your dog doesn’t know it’s supposed to be quiet so you’ll have to remove all the normal temptations for activity.
  • Use that kennel! Hopefully your dog is kennel-trained and will go in easily and willingly. They don’t have to be in there 24/7. If you’re leaving the house or going to go take a shower during his/her normal zoomie time, then the dog goes into the kennel. It’s not punishment. It’s a week out of their lives to make sure their surgical incision heals properly.
  • Better Living Through Pharmacology – if all else fails, sedatives can mean the difference between a one-week healing period and a 3-week bumpy road to recovery because your dog escaped out the front door and chased the neighbor’s cat down the street. I’ve done this for my own nutty Golden Retriever and it really helped. Talk to your vet about the possibility if you think you really can’t keep them quiet.

In Conclusion

Follow your vet’s recommendations on keeping your dog quiet after a spay or neuter. We all have our different ways we do spays and neuters and some ways may require more or less down-time than others. Be sure to alert your vet if the healing doesn’t seem to be going well or if you might need some help with keeping the dog calm.