Sheila is a responsible dog owner. As soon as he reached six months old, she took her healthy (adorable) puppy, Archie, to the veterinarian to be neutered.
Everything was going well when Archie came home after his neuter surgery. He was a little sleepy but ate some food for dinner and didn’t seem to be in much pain.
Then at 4:00 a.m. Sheila is awakened by the smell every puppy owner dreads–doggy diarrhea. All. Over. The. House.
And this time it has streaks of red blood mixed with the puppy’s loose stool.
As soon as the vet clinic opens, she’s on the phone asking the vet tech, “My dog has bloody diarrhea after neutering. What should I do?”
Do Dogs Normally Have Diarrhea After Neuter Surgery?
Gastrointestinal disorders like vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon in dogs recovering from anesthesia and surgery. (1) But I wouldn’t call it normal. Veterinarians go out of their way to ensure a smooth recovery after neuter surgery. Some dogs still develop stress colitis.
Common factors that lead to a dog having diarrhea after surgery:
- Physical stress from surgery and anesthesia
- Emotional stress and anxiety from time spent in the vet clinic
- Medication like pain meds and antibiotics given before, during and after surgery
- Untreated pain is an ongoing physical and emotional stressor
Diarrhea with Mucus After Dog Neutering
Mucus in a dog’s feces indicates that the large intestine (colon) is not happy. The colon always produces a certain amount of mucus to lubricate stool so it is easier to pass.
When the colon is irritated, it produces more mucus. You might see it on the surface of a formed stool kind of like jelly. It can also be mixed into unformed or liquid stool.
If your dog has loose stool with or without mucus after neutering, it might not be an emergency. If he is still eating, drinking and acting normally–call your vet then monitor him closely for worsening symptoms.
Is Bloody Diarrhea After a Dog’s Neutering an Emergency?
It’s not uncommon to see a little bright red blood in a dog’s poop when their large intestine is irritated. If you see a few red streaks on partially or fully formed poop, don’t panic but do monitor for worsening symptoms.
If your dog is passing stool that looks like red strawberry jelly, i.e. it contains lots of blood and mucus, IT’S AN EMERGENCY. Get to a vet clinic right away. The condition is usually treatable but your dog can get very sick if you don’t get him treated pronto!
Dog Has Vomiting and Diarrhea After Neutering
The same things that cause diarrhea can also cause a dog to vomit after surgery. Sometimes the entire GI tract seems upset by such a stressful experience.
Vomiting dogs present more of a concern than those who only have diarrhea. Not only are they losing important fluids and electrolytes through loose stools, but they also aren’t able to replenish them by eating and drinking.
If your adult dog or puppy has vomiting with or without diarrhea after neutering, it’s extremely important that you call or visit the vet clinic for help right away. They can check for more serious problems than stress-related intestinal tract upset. The vet may also give your dog fluids subcutaneously or intravenously as well as administer anti-nausea medication.
If your dog develops severe vomiting and diarrhea during the hours that your regular vet’s clinic is closed, seek help from a 24-hour emergency vet clinic. It may be inconvenient and more costly, but treating these symptoms quickly can make a big difference. And timely vet care will save money and time in the long run!
How Long Do Dogs Have Diarrhea After Surgery?
Veterinarians aim for no loose stool after surgery, but it still happens to a few puppies and dogs. Stress-induced diarrhea usually resolves within 24-48 hours after a dog’s neuter surgery.
If there are other factors causing your dog’s diarrhea, it could last longer than that.
My Dog Still Has Diarrhea a Week After Spaying/Neutering
Stress colitis usually resolves within a couple of days. So if your dog has diarrhea a week or longer after spaying or neutering, it’s time to consider other causes.
Common causes of diarrhea in dogs and puppies include:
- Intestinal parasites (worms, coccidia, giardia)
- Viral and bacterial diseases (including parvo)
- Food intolerance
- Dietary indiscretion (a.k.a. Garbage gut from eating the inedible)
- Medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, etc.)
Warning Signs to Watch for After a Dog’s Neuter Surgery
It might take a few days for your dog to feel back to his normal, happy self after being neutered. But what’s normal and what’s a warning sign that he needs help?
Normal Post-Surgery Symptoms:
- Lower energy level
- Sleeping more
- Less active
- Mild tenderness around the surgical site
- Mild changes in appetite
- Trying to lick incision
- Soft stool for 24 hours
- Occasional mild cough from tracheal tube
Abnormal Post-Surgery Symptoms:
- Constant whining or crying out in pain
- Severe lethargy
- Not peeing or pooping for more than 24 hours
- Poor appetite
- Frequent passing of watery loose feces
- Very bloody diarrhea
- Red, hot incision area
- Pus coming from incision area
- Significantly swollen incision area
- Fever with rectal temperature above 102.8 degrees F.
- Persistent or harsh cough
When You Should See a Veterinarian
If your pup has one or more of the abnormal symptoms listed above, you should definitely call your vet for advice. If it’s after hours, try calling a local 24-hour emergency vet clinic to ask if they recommend bringing your pup in for an exam.
But remember, it’s not wrong to take your dog in for a quick vet check if you are at all concerned about his recovery. Don’t worry that your vet will be annoyed, they want to know that your pup is recovering well. And if there is a problem, early intervention can often get your dog back on the road to a swift recovery from surgery.
- Torrente, C., Vigueras, I., Manzanilla, E. G., Villaverde, C., Fresno, L., Carvajal, B., … & Costa‐Farré, C. (2017). Prevalence of and risk factors for intraoperative gastroesophageal reflux and postanesthetic vomiting and diarrhea in dogs undergoing general anesthesia. Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 27(4), 397-408.