Dog Spay Incision Lumps: Are Those Normal? Should You Be Worried?

If you’re a dog owner (especially a female dog), you’re probably aware of “spaying” and dog spay incision lumps. Also known as “ovariohysterectomy,” spaying is the surgical procedure of sterilizing female dogs. A veterinarian will “spay” your dog by removing her ovaries and uterus. While this procedure has various medical and behavioral benefits, it’s not 100% risk-free. The main risk? The appearance of lumps under stitches after spaying. 

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Post-Surgery Lumps on Dogs after Spaying 

Dog spay incision lump – these four words scare all dog owners who spay their dogs. What are swollen spay incisions in dogs? Should pet owners be worried about this common side effect of ovariohysterectomies? To fully comprehend these risks, dog owners must first understand the process of spaying. Dog owners ask veterinarians to spay their dogs for various reasons –

  • Female dogs live longer, healthier lives after getting spayed.
  • Spaying reduces the risk of female dogs developing uterine infections.
  • The incidence of cancerous breast tumors is significantly lower in spayed dogs.

Approximately 50% of all breast tumors in female dogs are malignant or cancerous. That’s why many pet owners spay their pets before they enter heat for the first time. The procedure gives female dogs the best protection from various diseases. But, spaying comes with one common health risk – swollen spay incisions in dogs.

Swollen spay incisions are also known as seromas. These bumps, lumps, or swellings result from poor incision healing. If your dog’s surgery incisions don’t heal well, they may collect serous fluids and become swollen. 

No pet owner wants to see suspicious lumps under stitches after spaying their dog. Is your dog experiencing swelling after spay? You may find it helpful to look at this video of seromas in dogs to understand what they typically look like.

Dog Spay Incision Lumps: Is It Normal to Have A Lump After Spaying?

It’s 100% normal to feel bumps and lumps under your dog’s skin after spaying. That’s because vets attach dissolvable sutures under the surface of their skin. These sutures dissolve away with time. But, not all post-spaying lumps fall under this “normal” category. All surgical procedures are prone to complications, including the ones performed on animals.

To prevent the formation of serious, “abnormal” lumps after spaying of the dog, modern-day vets take various precautionary steps. From performing bloodwork to careful post-spaying monitoring, they do it all. But, “abnormal” or serious seromas or lumps may form on your dog’s incisions due to various uncontrollable factors.

  • Seromas or dog spay incision lumps are deposits of lymphatic fluid. They accumulate in incisions that are not closed optimally.
  • When lumps under spay incisions are not “abnormal” or infected, vets ask pet owners to let them heal naturally. But, seromas can get infected.
  • Infected seromas could lead to tumors, severe mobility issues, and other risks. Before swollen spay incisions in dogs become infected, pet owners must seek professional care.
  • Vets drain the seromas regularly until the lumps disappear. They also frequently apply warm compresses on the incisions to prevent further infections or complications.

Although dog spay seroma is seemingly normal and common, pet owners must beware. Always inform the operating veterinarian about the evolution of the lumps or seromas. Look out for signs of “abnormality” like excessive redness or pain. Take the dog to the vet if you spot any signs of serious complications.

Incision lumps after neutering a dog are also quite common. Like spayed female dogs, neutered male dogs often have bumps on their incisions after surgeries. 

Is It Normal for A Spay Incision to Swell?

A bit of redness, small bruises, and slight swelling. These are all typical symptoms that female dogs exhibit after being spayed. Things get “abnormal” when your dog starts displaying the following symptoms –

  • Her incision wounds exert heat.
  • Small, protruding red bumps on spay incision.
  • There’s visible excessive swelling around the incisions.
  • The spay incisions ooze pus and other ugly discharges.

These abnormal symptoms of swelling after spay need to be diagnosed by a vet as quickly as possible. Typically, excess activity disrupts the spay incisions’ healing process. 

These disruptions lead to the formation of fluid pockets under the incisions. If these “seromas” get infected, they may exert heat or ooze pus. That’s why early vet intervention is so important. 

But, even more important is avoiding these risks in the first place. Veterinarians ask dog owners to take the following steps to prevent swollen spay incisions in dogs from getting too serious

  • Observe the incision every day. Don’t worry about the sutures buried beneath her skin. You may feel them on or underneath her skin, but they’ll dissolve on their own in a few weeks.
  • Don’t let her lick the incision. Or else it may get infected. If necessary, use Elizabethan collars to prevent her from being able to lick her surgery incision.
  • Don’t let water near the incision until her skin heals (it usually takes 14 days). This means – no playing in the water, no baths, and no swimming for at least two weeks.
  • Was your dog in heat at the time of spaying? If yes, keep her away from male dogs for the next two weeks. She may retain the hormones that attract male dogs to heat. You don’t want a male dog to mount her while her internal sutures are still healing.

On average, swollen spay incisions in dogs heal naturally within 12 to 14 days. Pet owners must be as disciplined as possible during this period. They must limit their dogs’ activity levels for at least 14 days after surgery.

Can A Dog Get A Hernia After Being Spayed?

Yes. The possibility of seroma in dogs after spay is much more common than hernias. But, hernias are the second-most common post-spaying complication that female dogs experience. Thankfully, neither seromas nor hernias are hard to treat. But, like seromas, dogs usually get hernias after spaying because of improper post-surgery healing. For instance, your dog may overexert herself and accidentally tear the internal stitches along her abdominal wall.

Hernia Vs. Seroma After Spay

Hernia after spay is not an uncommon occurrence. Hernias can occur in all dogs – whether spayed or neutered. But, spayed and neutered dogs are at a higher risk of getting hernias, especially during their post-surgery healing processes.

  • Post-spaying or neutering hernias can develop due to substandard surgical management by veterinarians. Improper at-home care can also be a factor.  
  • Dogs may strain themselves while recovering, causing their internal stitches to rupture.
  • Since hernias are internal tissue/muscle tears, they’re hard to spot. Many times, hernias don’t even cause any pain to dogs.

So, how do you know for sure your dog has a hernia? How to determine if the lump on your dog’s abdomen isn’t a hernia or something more serious? Observe your dog every day. Does she feel pain when you touch the incision lump? Is the lump changing in size and shape? If your answers are yes and yes – there’s a high chance it’s a hernia. Take your dog to a vet immediately.

Vets use X-rays to diagnose hernias. If a hernia is detected, the vet will first use anti-inflammatory medication to allow the hernia to subside on its own. If the medication doesn’t work, the vet will perform hernia surgery. Hernia surgeries are safe and have very high success rates. Dogs typically take 4 to 6 weeks to recover from this surgery.

If your dog has a lump after spay, don’t worry. Veterinarians ask dog owners to let nature take its course when treating these common post-spaying symptoms. But, pet owners must constantly observe their dogs’ incisions for at least 2 weeks after spaying. 

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