Neutering Preparation

Before the procedure is performed, the fur in front of the scrotum is clipped and the skin is washed with either povidone-iodine (e.g., Betadine, a potent antiseptic) or chlorhexiderm (an antiseptic commonly found in animal shampoo).

Sterility is essential to prevent infection. The surgeon scrubs his or her hands and forearms and puts on a sterile gown and gloves. The instruments and tools used before, during, and after the surgery are sterilized.


Neutering is performed under general anesthesia, which means that the pet is unconscious while the surgery is performed. In most cases, the animal is given an intravenous injection and then is intubated (i.e., a tube is inserted through the nose or mouth into the airway). Intubation maintains a patent airway and allows mechanical ventilation throughout the procedure.

Anesthesia poses a small risk for death, although it is generally safe. The drugs that are used are also used in people. The animal is closely monitored throughout the entire procedure (e.g., EKG, blood pressure monitor).


Neutering takes from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the animal. Pets that have only one descended testicle may require more extensive surgery if the undescended testicle is inside the abdomen.

Complications of Neutering

Possible complications following surgery include bleeding and infection. Pet owners should monitor their pets carefully for several days following surgery. Bleeding, swelling, redness, or discharge from the surgery site, should be reported to the veterinarian.

Neutering Recovery

In some cases, the animal can go home shortly after surgery and, in other cases, it must remain in the hospital overnight. This policy varies among veterinary hospitals. Whether the animal stays in the hospital, or goes home, the incision should be checked twice daily for signs of infection.

The pet's activities should be restricted for the first week or so following surgery. Dogs should be walked on a leash and not allowed to run or roam. Pets should be protected from stressful environments (e.g., excitement, extreme temperatures). After the first week, the animals can resume their normal activities. Pets can resume regular meals the day after surgery. Pet owners who are concerned about their pet's appetite or weight should talk to the veterinarian.

If the pet has external sutures or staples, they are removed by the veterinarian, usually 10 to 14 days after surgery. If medications are prescribed, label directions should be followed carefully. Call the veterinarian if there are any problems or questions.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 01 Mar 2001

Last Modified: 02 Feb 2015