When it comes to the health of your pet, we believe that spaying or neutering is one of the best things you can do for them. At our clinic, we prefer to spay or neuter cats and small dogs around six months of age and large dogs a bit later, after they’ve finished growing. In general, we recommend spaying or neutering all pets who won’t be bred but appreciate that it can be a big decision for a pet owner.
Here are some things you should know about spaying and neutering that might help make the decision a bit easier.
The difference between spay and neuter
Spaying involves removing the uterus and ovaries of a female pet. Neutering involves removing a male pet’s testicles. In both cases, the purpose of these procedures is to sterilize pets so they can no longer reproduce.
Benefits of spaying and neutering
The biggest advantage to spaying/neutering your pet is that it reduces their risk of many health and behavioural issues. Spaying will stop females from going into heat, having discharge, suffering from hormonal fluctuations that can cause medical and behavioural problems, and becoming pregnant. As a result, they avoid associated health complications, some of which can be life-threatening.
On the male side, neutering may help prevent aggression and reduce or eliminate undesirable behaviours such as fighting, mounting, marking (spraying urine) and escape attempts to find mates.
Risks of not spaying/neutering your pet
Dogs and cats that aren’t spayed or neutered are at higher risk for certain cancers. Removal of reproductive organs in both female and male pets eliminates the risk of ovarian or testicular cancer, and dramatically lowers the risk of breast (mammary gland), and uterine cancer.
Intact (not spayed) female dogs and cats can also get pyometra, a life-threatening bacterial infection of the uterus. Once spayed, pets have almost zero chance of developing this potentially deadly condition.
If you’ve read this far and decided to spay/neuter your pet, here’s what to expect…
- Before your cat or dog’s surgery appointment, we’ll tell you what time to start withholding food and water and any other pre-operative preparations.
- Your pet will be assessed by their veterinarian the morning of their surgery, and if all is well, they will be given an injection that includes a light sedative (to help them relax) and pain medication.
- Once relaxed, they will be anesthetized. We closely monitor all pets during their procedure to make sure they stay safe, comfortable, and their heart rate and breathing remain normal.
- Neutering (removal of the testicles) is usually a relatively quick procedure. Spaying takes a bit longer. Since it requires removing the uterus and ovaries (both of which are internal organs), it’s abdominal surgery and therefore a more complicated procedure.
- Once your pet’s procedure is complete, our veterinary team closely monitors them as they awaken from the anesthesia, to ensure they are safe and comfortable. We send most pets home the same day as their surgery, along with pain medication and clear instructions on how best to care for them as they recover.
Your pet’s first night at home following surgery
Besides keeping a close eye on your pet that first evening and night, here are some tips to help avoid complications and ensure a smooth recovery:
- If your vet has recommended one, make sure your pet’s Elizabethan collar (or other device designed to prevent your pet from bothering their incision), stays on. If you must remove the collar so your pet can eat, watch them the entire time to make sure they do not lick or chew the incision area.
- Limit your pet’s activity as recommended specifically for your pet. Some pets (especially female pets and older pets) may need to have their activity restricted for longer. Movement causes friction along the incision; this can slow the healing process and cause fluid swelling or worse, breakdown (dehiscence) of the incision.
- Keep your pet from rubbing the incision against furniture, the floor, or other surfaces.
- Consider switching to a padded or inflatable collar if your pet is having trouble adapting to the Elizabethan collar (E-collar). Be aware that some pets (such as Dachshunds and other pets with long bodies) can physically get around these alternative recovery collars and reach their incisions. Some dogs or cats may also outsmart or chew through soft collars.
Debunking myths about spaying/neutering
While we’re at it, let’s clear up a few myths about spaying and neutering:
- Spaying/neutering does not make pets fat. A pet’s metabolism may slow a bit after the procedure, but you can adjust for this by continuing to watch your pet’s food intake, cutting calories if needed, and making sure your pet gets enough exercise.
- Neutering does not make male dogs less masculine.
- Spaying or neutering will not change your pet’s natural instincts, intelligence, playfulness, or personality.
Spaying/neutering benefits you, your pet, and your community
Spaying or neutering benefits both you and your pet by reducing your pet’s risk of certain diseases, reducing the risk of other health complications, and cutting down on undesirable behaviours. Your dog or cat will not only have a healthier life after the procedure, but they may even live longer!
Another benefit of spaying/neutering is preventing unwanted pets. We have stray pets and community cats in London and Riverbend, so we urge you to do your part by making sure your pet won’t contribute to the homeless pet population.
Schedule an appointment with us for your pet’s spay or neuter today!