It’s a common right of passage for many female dogs—and as owners, we want to ensure the spaying procedure goes as smoothly and as pain-free as possible.

So what exactly is involved in spaying, what can owners do to ease the spaying process?

What is Spaying?

Spaying is the sterilization of a female animal, which is normally accomplished by the removal of the ovaries, uterus, or both. In medical terms, spaying is referred to as ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy. The male version of spaying is usually called neutering.

Why spay my dog?

Beyond the obvious reasons for sterilization, female dogs are spayed to prevent them from entering heat, which can occur twice a year. When a female dog is in heat, they can exhibit many unwanted behaviors and become difficult to control—including aggression, erratic behavior, and wandering away from the home or becoming lost.

Spaying also helps to stave off infections and diseases related to reproductive organs, such as cancers and uterine infections. Check out this article from WebMD for the Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet.

What’s the normal recovery time after spaying?

Assuming all has gone normally with your dog’s spaying (and the overwhelming majority of surgeries do) you can expect your pup to be a little sluggish, grumpy, and unresponsive for the hours immediately following discharge.

Over the next day, they should be up and walking around, although they may be tired and feeling quite sorry for themselves—especially if they’re required to wear a cone.

At this point, your dog may be experiencing some mild discomfort, which can be alleviated by medication prescribed by your veterinarian.

Alternatively, you can treat your dog’s minor pain with home remedies, such as CBD for dogs or antihistamines.

Between two days and two weeks after surgery, you can expect your dog to return to normal. In fact, your dog is likely to feel back to normal long before their stitches fully heal. This is why it’s important to restrict any strenuous exercise or rough play until at least two weeks after their procedure.

Read: The best CBD oils for dogs in pain

How can I care for my dog during recovery?

Owners can help with their dog’s recovery after spaying in three main ways:

I think there’s an issue with my dog’s recovery. What warning signs should I be looking out for?

The overwhelming majority of spaying procedures occur without issue—after all, it’s a surgery performed multiple times per day across the country. However, there are some red flags owners can look out for, based on the expected recovery timeline of patients.

Approximately one day after surgery, your dog should be standing, walking, and responding to your commands.

If not, we’d recommend a quick phone call with your vet to discuss next steps.