My Dog Ate Before Neutering What Should I Do

My Dog Ate Before Neutering What Should I Do?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Your doctor needs to know if you offer your pet a quick treat after the deadline set by your veterinarian. It's crucial for the welfare of your dog! A vet will usually decide whether or not to proceed with the surgery in most cases. However, you are the one who disobeyed him, so he will give you the stink eye.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “My Dog Ate Before Neutering What Should I Do?“.

The process of preparing your dog for neutering can be a very stressful one. 

My Dog Ate Before Neutering What Should I Do

Its not just the pre-surgery instructions you must follow to the letter but also the feeling that you must somehow make him up. 

When you know what kind of surgery your beloved pet will have the next day how can you refuse him a small treat?

What can happen if your dog ate small treat before surgery? Is it bad? What if my dog ate a treat before surgery Should it be rescheduled? 

As you can see there is no simple answer to this question and if you check out what various experts say you’ll find that their opinions and recommendations differ.

Hopefully we can shed some light on this question that so many pet parents have.

What can happen if my dog ate small treat before surgery?

When dogs are under general anaesthesia vets will instruct owners to keep food and water away from them before surgery (not just neutering but any type of surgery). This will prevent the animal from vomiting.

Various types of anaesthetics are used by doctors but they all work the same way. 

The problem is that the brain does not maintain all of the dogs vital functions such as breathing and heartbeat while the dog is under anaesthesia

These include the gag reflex which is suppressed. If the dog vomits during surgery there is a risk that the stomachs contents will be inhaled into the lungs by the anaesthetic. 

There is the possibility that your dog will get aspiration pneumonia which is bad enough but treatable. 

The worst thing is when the stomach content gets into the lungs and the dog chokes to death.

In summary the vet advised you to remove your dogs food and water the night before surgery so that he goes into surgery on an empty stomach.

He would not suffocate even if he vomits if there isnot anything to regurgitate.

How long should a dog be starved before going into surgery?

The reason why a dog should not eat before surgery is easy to understand but deciding how long to let him starve is a bit more complicated. 

It isnot uncommon for vets to say no food (or water) after 6 pm others to set an 8-9 pm deadline while others extend the time limit to midnight.

You as a pet owner are not only confused but also frustrated by this situation. 

At the end of the day you have to take away the dogs food at 6 pm refuse him any water and then take him to the vet the next day again without giving him a bite to eat or a drop of water.

How reasonable is it? Let’s find out!

In its ‘What to Expect’ handout the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends practitioners decide for themselves how long dogs should be without food and water.

You will be instructed to withhold food for a certain period of time to reduce the risk of regurgitation and aspiration. 

Additionally depending on the veterinarian you might be instructed to keep your pet from drinking.

There is no official guidance offered by them. 

The choice is up to the vet which is why some tell you to starve your dog starting at 6 pm and others recommend midnight. 

Yes those six hours do make a huge difference for you and especially for your dog. 

How does the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) view the issue? 

In their clinics they also perform spaying and neutering and are definitely more humane. 

It is told to you that you do not have to starve your dog before scheduling a procedure with them. 

You can give him something to eat in the morning before you leave for the clinic. Your dog can drink water all the way up to the time of surgery.

How long should you starve a puppy before neutering it?

If you look at the AAHA client handout mentioned above they clearly admit that young dogs don’t need to fast as long as older ones before surgery. 

The reason is that older pets have a slower metabolism and it takes them longer to digest food. 

Besides their energy reserves are greater than those of younger animals. 

Now most dogs undergoing neutering or spaying are young and healthy with a good metabolism. 

A small dog should not be made too fast from 6 pm if hes going to have surgery at noon the next day.

According to the ASPCA puppies four months of age or younger should be given half their usual breakfast on the day of their surgery while dogs five months or older should receive a quarter of their usual meal. 

As far as the ASPCA is concerned there are no restrictions on water and this makes sense especially when it comes to young pups who are at a greater risk for dehydration. 

What to do if your dog eats before surgery?

ASPCA guidelines may look good but you might put your veterinarian in trouble by following them. 

Its important that you tell your doctor about offering your pet a quick treat way past the deadline set by your veterinarian if you cannot resist the pleading eyes. 

You can not let that happen to your dog!

Most of the time the vet will decide whether or not surgery can be performed. 

As the one who disobeyed their order he will give you the stink eye. 

In reality a dog can be anaesthetized even if he ate something but that will require a lot of effort on the part of the doctor. 

They will need to keep an eye on the dog in case he vomits and make sure he does not choke.

Even if the dog ate a large meal an hour before a vet will perform emergency surgery if the animal needs it. 

When doctors are very strict and insist a dog should not eat anything from 6 p.m. the previous day onward they just want to make sure they would not have any problems with the dog vomiting during the procedure. 

If your vet would not perform the surgery because you did not starve your dog you can only reschedule or find another more understanding vet.

Should I give my dog his meds before surgery?

Your veterinarian should be consulted about this. In the event that your dog has a condition that requires daily medication the vet will review the medications your pet is taking. 

The veterinarian might tell you to skip one or two doses but in other cases they will tell you to administer the drugs as prescribed. 

At the same time if your dog has diabetes you should speak to your veterinarian about how starving might affect him and how to adjust his insulin levels. 

Should I bathe my dog before surgery?

That would indeed be an excellent idea. 

You should first make sure that your dog is as clean as possible to prevent infection. 

It will take a few days for the wound to heal and you will not want it to come in contact with dirty fur. The vet will shave and disinfect the surgical area. 

Meanwhile you would not be able to give your dog a bath until the wound is completely healed so it will probably be at least a week before you can bathe him. 

The dogs bedding should also be cleaned and disinfected for the same reasons you should let him rest in a nice clean bed once he gets home from surgery. 

I suggest letting him rest in a clean bed when he gets home from surgery.

Should I take the dog out before surgery?

The day before surgery many vets recommend that the dog be restrained. 

Its meant to prevent him from getting sore muscles after surgery which would only make things worse for him.

Take the dog out the night before surgery on a leash so he does not eat anything he might find on the street. 

The same is true for the morning of the procedure especially if he hasnot eaten since sunset the night before.

You could also consider crate training your dog for a few days or sectioning off part of your house. 

To allow the wound to heal properly the vet will probably recommend that the dog limit their physical activity. 

Can I feed the dog after neutering surgery?

You may find that your pet is not interested in food after the procedure since he will still be confused by the anaesthetic. 

However there are dogs that are ravenous when they get home.

Even if you know your dog is famished avoid giving him a large meal. 

Feed him small portions of his normal meal at regular intervals like every hour or so. 

Make sure the food will be easily digestible and would not cause any problems. 

Its not the time to give your dog treats that could make him sick or foods that he hasnot had before.

Continue to feed him his normal chow for the time being.


Theres nothing wrong with giving your dog something to eat past the time indicated by your vet.

When your veterinarian told you to take your pets food and water away at 6 pm remember that other doctors say 9 pm is fine while others see no issue with a treat right before midnight. 

Please note that these instructions are not definitive. 

You should inform the vet if you do not follow the instructions in the letter. 

During surgery they are responsible for your dog so they need to know if there is a risk that the dog might vomit. 

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

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Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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