This is How Long Your Dog Should Fast Before Getting Spayed
Alex Vicente • Updated on October 23, 2022
Spay surgery to stop female dogs from having puppies is considered major surgery. Just like humans, dogs need to be prepared for this surgery. Consult with your vet if you have questions but there are some recommendations to follow.
Your dog should fast for at least eight hours before the surgery due to the anesthesia. If they have food in their belly before the surgery, they might get sick. A good rule-of-thumb is to hold off on feeding them eight hours before.
Spaying differs from neutering because the veterinarian has to cut into the female dog and remove a little more than male dogs. It is important to be prepared as a dog owner for the days leading up to the surgery, as well as the days after the surgery.
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Table of Contents
Can a Dog Eat or Drink Before Getting Spayed?
Depending on when your surgery is during the day, some veterinarians are a little more lenient with the 6-8 hour fasting guidelines. These guidelines are for the health and safety of your dog.
Dogs that are 16 weeks and younger should not fast and can eat and drink before the surgery. They need every nutrient that they can get when they are young.
During the surgery, the dog might be carried around to get their x-ray, to the table to get the surgery, to go to a crate after the surgery, or elsewhere. All of that moving around could cause a little stomach ache.
This nausea could lead to vomiting, which is dangerous when any living thing is under anesthesia. If they are undergoing surgery and they start getting sick, your dog might start choking.
Letting your dog drink water is okay before the surgery but it is also up to your veterinarian. If it is still okay with your veterinarian, monitor their water intake, especially the morning of the surgery, to avoid being waterlogged on the big day.
Something to keep in mind is to always check with your veterinarian if you have questions about this surgery. Also, be honest with your vet clinic before the surgery as well. If the dog accidentally gets into something just let the staff know.
Your veterinarian should provide you with some instructions on food and water before surgery. Depending on how old your dog is, they might give your dog a little food to line their stomach before spaying.
Puppies need a different level of nutrition than older dogs because their metabolism is extremely high when they are puppies. They need more nutrients to continue to grow. Talk to your veterinarian about their age and if you can feed them.
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How Much Can the Dog Eat or Drink?
It is recommended that dogs that are 16 weeks old and over do not eat before any surgery. Dogs can have water until the time of the surgery, according to the ASPCA. Water is okay to give dogs, as long as it is not an excessive amount right before the surgery.
As always, discuss any changes with your veterinarian or the clinic staff on the day of the surgery. If your dog accidentally gets into food the day of the surgery, there are some recommendations that veterinarians can provide you.
Be prepared to reschedule your appointment to get your dog spayed if your dog gets into food. If a dog has a lot of food in their stomach and they get sick while under anesthesia, the food could cause a blockage in their windpipes.
Water is okay to give dogs before they get spayed. But monitor how much water so they do not have to go to the bathroom during surgery.
How to Prepare a Dog for Spaying?
The ASPCA has a video on how to get your dog prepared for a spay or neuter operation. It is recommended to have your dog crate trained before the surgery. That way, you can bring your dog to the clinic in a crate with their favorite toy or blanket.
The night before surgery, it is recommended that you keep your dog indoors so you can monitor what it eats or gets into. If your dog is outside it might ingest something it should not, especially before surgery.
Remember to withhold food at least 8 hours before the surgery. Most veterinary clinics schedule their surgeries in the morning. This benefit allows for dog owners to keep food away from their animals without really having to think about it.
It is okay to keep the water bowl out for the dog before the surgery. Just be honest with your veterinarian about what is in the dog’s stomach before spaying.
Put dog toys away for now. When your dog comes home after the surgery, you do not want your dog to be tempted to play with toys because of the stitches.
Make your dog comfortable. In the crate, make sure you have their favorite toy or stuffed buddy and blanket before the surgery. This way, the nerves might be down when going into the surgery and your dog will be comfortable afterward.
Why Should My Dog Fast Before Getting Spayed?
When dogs get spayed, they go under anesthesia. Just like humans, there is a risk of vomiting during major surgery. When dogs go under, they go through similar experiences as humans.
Withholding food before surgery will take out that risk of getting sick during a surgery. If dogs are under anesthesia, they do not have the same control over their bodily functions. If something were to happen, it would be a serious risk.
That being said, there are a few things that dog owners can do to help:
- putting the food bowl away
- refilling the water bowl – remember that water is still safe for the dog to consume; just keep an eye on the amount of water intake
- hiding the dog food and treats/bones
- keeping the dog inside as much as possible to monitor if the dog accidentally gets into something
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When to Start Feeding After Spaying?
Your dog just went through major surgery. They might not be ready for their regular food routine, but it is recommended to transition them back to their scheduled diet 24 hours after the surgery. Changes in their diet could present some complications.
Your dog will be prescribed pain medication after the surgery. Depending on what medication your veterinarian gives your dog, be aware that it might make them lose their appetite or get a little nauseous.
Some of the medications given after surgery could make your dog lethargic or tired with no appetite. Just remember to get them back to their feeding routine. Your dog will let you know when they are ready to eat, no need to force it upon them.
Your veterinarian will give you recommendations as to when to give them food based on your dog’s size, diet, and health. Make sure to consult with them if you have any questions.
It is recommended to give your pet a half-size meal after you bring them home. In the evening, continue to feed them to line their stomach. If they are not prepared to accept a whole meal yet, do not be concerned.
The Bottom Line
As always, follow the instructions of your veterinarian. It is recommended that you do not give your dog food the night before their surgery but water is okay.
The most important thing to remember is that your dog just went through major surgery. Just like humans, they might need a little extra care, attention, and love post-surgery.