Why do Pets Cough After Surgery?


Ever since my female cat went to be fixed, she has had a cough. I was wondering if there is any thing I can do to help her. Also, she has become more aggressive since she has been fixed. Is that normal?

Kansas City, KS

Cats and dogs often cough for several days after surgery or anesthesia for dental work. This occurs for two reasons. First, to safely perform anesthesia, a special breathing tube must be inserted in the throat. The tube ensures that animals are able to breathe properly. It also protects the lungs from foreign material during the procedure. However, it occasionally causes minor irritation to the windpipe that leads to coughing for several days.

Also, remember that all major medical procedures are stressful. Stress weakens the immune system and makes pets more susceptible to minor respiratory ailments.

In either case, the coughing should not be accompanied by symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, or difficulty breathing. If you see these symptoms, or if the coughing persists for more than a few days, contact the vet who performed the surgery.

Pets that undergo spay or neuter surgeries before puberty should not experience permanent personality changes. In fact, one of the benefits of early spaying and neutering is the prevention of undesirable personality changes that occur at puberty.

Temporary personality changes can occur after surgery, especially if proper pain management isn’t utilized. Aggression can be a sign of pain in both cats and dogs. I strongly recommend that you talk to your vet as soon as possible about your cat’s new aggressive tendencies.

It should be noted that when pets are spayed after puberty personality changes are not uncommon. The most frequently encountered changes are decreased levels of aggression and decreased interest in sexual activity.

Photo: Zipper shows off the site of her spay surgery.

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