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Posted on 03-21-2017

Why Should I Spay or Neuter my Pet?

If you’ve ever adopted a rescue dog or cat, chances are they were already spayed or neutered, meaning they will be unable to reproduce. According to the Humane Society, of all the animals sitting in shelters awaiting a home, only half will find one. The other half will be euthanized. In their article, “Myths and Facts About Spaying and Neutering” they feel that deciding to spay or neuter your pet is a way to save lives.

No surgery is without risk, but the benefits far outweigh the small chance of complication. Pets who are spayed and neutered at a young age have a much lower risk of certain types of cancers. Females who are spayed before having a heat cycle have dramatically decreased risk of mammary cancer compared to pets that experience even just one cycle. Males decrease their risk of prostate and testicular cancers once neutered. Undesired behaviors (running away, aggression) associated with the male hormone testosterone are also greatly diminished with neutering.

There are those who believe that by not spaying or neutering their dog, they will be better for “working” (hunting, protection, herding). The ability for a dog to perform a task has nothing to do with sex hormones and everything to do with personality and training. Another misconception is that “fixed” pets become overweight and lazy, but did you know that once spayed or neutered your pet requires 25% fewer calories per day? Being overweight and lazy is usually a sign of simply being overfed and under exercised.

Still on the fence? Check out these links for more information!

Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter  Your Pet

Spaying and Neutering - AVMA

Discuss your options at your next appointment with one of our doctors!

When should I spay and neuter

At our hospital we recommend having your pet spayed or neutered anytime after 4 months old. There are very few exceptions to this rule, but it is always best to discuss the right time for your pet with your veterinarian. For instance, large breed dogs take longer to mature than small breed dogs, which may become a factor in deciding the appropriate age for sterilization.

If you suspect that your pet is coming in to heat, delay surgery until after the cycle has finished. When a female pet is in heat, there is added blood flow to the reproductive organs. Spaying a female who is in heat not only increases the duration and cost of surgery, it also increases your pet’s chance of complications, like excessive bleeding during and after surgery.

Before Surgery

Once you’ve made your appointment for surgery, we advise no food or water after midnight the night before. This reduces the risk of your pet vomiting and aspirating fluid while under anesthesia. If you happen to accidentally feed your pet, let your veterinarian know before you bring your pet in so your appointment can be rescheduled if necessary.

The morning of surgery, a member of the surgical team will go over paperwork with you and answer any of your questions. Plan to leave your pet for the majority of the day. This allows for any required blood work to be performed and analyzed, intravenous fluid therapy to be started, and the actual surgery to be performed as early as possible. Though surgeries are typically finished before the afternoon, we continue to monitor your pet’s vital signs for several hours following anesthesia to ensure they will be recovered enough to be returned to your care.

During Surgery

If your pet is being spayed, the procedure itself is called an ovariohysterectomy in which the ovaries, uterine horns and the body of the uterus are removed. If your pet is being neutered, the procedure is an orchiectomy, meaning both testicles are removed. This DOES NOT include the scrotum, though typically the loose skin eventually shrinks down.

Regardless of the procedure, each pet is monitored extensively for any changes in temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygenation level. The types of anesthetics we use are designed to be the most safe for your pet and are determined based on your pet’s needs. We use specific protocols to make sure your pet is pain free and comfortable before, during, and after surgery.

After Surgery

After the surgery is completed, a technician will wrap your pet in blankets and continue to monitor and comfort them until they fully come out of anesthesia and can be safely left in recovery. 

Once your pet is fully alert and awake, they will be taken outside to use the bathroom and be offered a small amount of food and water. This is also a great time for us to observe your pet and let you know if they have been bothering their incision site during their stay.

When you come to pick up your pet, you will receive a set of instructions as well as pain medications to take home. Listen closely! If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at any time. It is also a good idea to write down the name of the technician who assisted with the procedure so you can ask for them when you call.

The Cone of Shame

Nobody likes it, not even us! The dreaded ‘cone of shame’ a.k.a  an Elizabethan collar, helps prevent your pet from traumatizing the surgical site. This is absolutely critical to your pet’s recovery! Even if you don’t think your pet is licking, they always find a way to do it when you aren’t looking. I can’t tell you how many people think they can stop their pet from licking during the night. You can’t, trust me. If your pet licks his or her incision, they will create infection, prolonged healing time (that means even more time in the cone), damage to internal structures, and long-term problems. Not to mention, more vet visits to fix the damage, possibly more surgery, and more medications.

If you are having difficulties with your cone, please call our office before trying anything else. We’ve usually ‘seen it all’ and might come up with solutions that you hadn’t thought of.

Who You Gonna Call?

This obviously doesn’t cover everything you need to know about your post-surgical care, but that’s because we don’t have a one-size fits all style of veterinary medicine! Please give us a call if you have any questions, concerns, or comments regarding this surgery for your pet. We love our patients and want to give them the best!

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