Spay or Neuter Your Dog

Although there are risks involved with any surgery the health benefits to having your dog spayed or cat spayed outweigh the risks.

There are many benefits to spaying your dog or cat. The dog and cat spay surgery eliminates unwanted pregnancy, messy heat cycles, and risks of pyometra and mammary tumors. Your pet will not become fat and or lazy from this surgery. Obesity in dogs and cats comes from overfeeding and lack of exercise. In some cases a thyroid problem or genetics is to blame but the spay surgery is not to blame for a fat dog or cat.

When should you have your dog/cat spayed?

The best age to spay your dog or cat is under debate but most veterinarians agree that the surgery should be preformed before the first heat cycle. Generally the age of the pet will be between 4 - 6 months of age. If the surgery is preformed before the first heat the chances of later developing mammary tumors, or breast cancer, are eliminated and if the surgery is performed before the second heat the chances of later developing mammary tumors are greatly reduced.

If your dog or cat was used for breeding purposes and has gone through numerous heat cycles don't think that there are not any health benefits to spaying your pet. Dogs and cats can develop an infection in their uterus called a pyometra that is life threatening, and in many cases requires emergency surgery to remove the infected uterus. If you spay your pet the risk of developing a pyometra is eliminated.

Early dog and cat spay/neuter surgeries:

Many veterinarians have started to perform spay and neuter surgeries on pets as young as 6 - 8 weeks of age. These surgeries have been performed on young puppies and kittens for many years without any health problems developing later in life. Usually early spay/ neuter programs are used for the Humane Society and rescue groups so that pets can go to their new homes already altered.

Dog and cat spay surgery:

The surgery should be performed with sterile instruments and with a sterile field. If the procedure is performed sterilely then the risk of infection is decreased. Your pet will be intubated and under general anesthesia throughout the procedure. During the dog or cat spay surgery an incision is made in the abdomen and the ovaries and uterus are removed, the blood supply tied off. The incision is then sutured closed.

Risks involved:

The dog/cat spay surgery should not be considered a routine surgery just because it is performed daily in most animal hospitals, there are risks involved during any surgery. The risks of the surgery, and the price, go up if the animal is overweight, in heat or pregnant. If the animal is in heat or pregnant there is more blood supply to the uterus therefore increasing the risk of the pet bleeding out, and the surgery is messier. Most veterinarians prefer not to perform this surgery on in heat pets, and some will refuse.

Pre-surgical blood work:

Pre-surgical blood work will be recommended by most veterinarians. The blood work will check for anemia and infection as well as kidney and liver function and your pets blood sugar. This information is always nice to have before your pet goes under anesthesia, your pet may look healthy on the outside but no one knows what is happening on in the inside unless blood work is done. Keep in mind that blood work will check what the veterinarian cannot see on a physical exam.

Post-surgical care:

When your pet is brought home from the hospital it should be kept calm for at least a week. Look at the incision daily and check for signs of infection. If redness, swelling, or discharge is noted call your veterinarian. If you think the incision is open, don't wait to call, this is an emergency and needs to be seen by your veterinarian immediately.

Leash walk your dog to go potty and don't allow free running for at least a week. This means that outside only dogs and cats should be kept in-doors (or at least in the garage) for at least a week post surgery. This gives your pet a chance to heal before going back to normal life.

It is also recommended that your pet not swim or have a bath for at least a week, possibly two weeks if external sutures were used. Some veterinarians will send pain medication home for your pet along with post-surgical care information, their advice should be followed closely to avoid any complications.