Spaying and neutering are two of the most common surgeries performed for cats and dogs, but many pet owners know very little about how these procedures are done and why. Besides preventing reproduction and pet overpopulation, there are a few other considerations to consider for spaying and neutering pets.
While both procedures are routinely performed at veterinary hospitals, spaying and neutering are still major surgeries that require special care.
What Is A Spay/Castration?
During a female spay, the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus are surgically tied off and removed. In males, the testicles are surgically tied off and removed during castration. At BLACC, most pets have no external sutures to remove, and they absorb on their own after a few weeks.
Almost all pets are admitted in the morning for surgery, and go home that afternoon. A protective collar is often sent home to prevent self-trauma and infection afterwards. Overly exuberant pets are often recommended a sedative to minimize complications post-surgery.
What Are the Benefits of Spaying My Dog and Cat?
Besides preventing unwanted pregnancy in females, spaying your pet prior to the first heat cycle can also reduce several other associated medical risks, including:
- Uterine, breast, and ovarian cancer
- Life-Threatening uterine infections(pyometra)
- Labor-related complications
- Eliminating stressful and uncomfortable heat cycles
Research has shown that preventing these potentially life-threatening conditions in female dogs may increase their lifespan by up to 18 months.
What Are the Benefits of Castrating My Dog or Cat?
Besides removing the risk of unwanted reproduction, castrating your male dog or cat can also reduce or eliminate a number of associated health risks, including:
- Testicular cancer
- Tumors around the anus
- Prostatic diseases such as infection or enlargement of the prostate gland
- Escaping your premises to mate, leading to being hit by cars or fighting with other dogs
- Reducing the risk of attaining a sexually-transmitted disease
- Prevention of behaviors caused by sexual frustration
When Should I Have My Dog and Cat Spayed or Neutered?
For female pets, we recommend spaying at 6 months, before the first heat cycle, which can occur around 6-7 months of age. For male pets, the timing is less significant. We recommend castration immediately if inappropriate behaviors develop. Otherwise, male dogs are typically neutered around 9 months and male cats at 6-7 months. Spaying females prior to heat cycles may also decrease surgical and recovery time and potentially reduce surgical complications and pain. Performing a spay during a heat cycle increases surgical complications such as bleeding, pain, and prolonged healing times, and are generally discouraged.
What Are the Risks Associated with Neutering?
Although rare, a reaction to medications used for sedation or general anesthesia can occur. If you know that your pet has experienced any allergic reactions or complications, please let us know before the procedure to identify any potential risks.
Neutering dogs and cats also alters their metabolism slightly, so that they often require fewer calories(approximately 20%) per day to maintain their weight. Please consult Blue Lake Animal Care Center if you have any concerns about providing the appropriate nutrition to your pet after surgery. Additionally, female dogs may be at increased risk(6%) of developing hormone-responsive urinary incontinence later in life. This is usually treatable with medication. Since testosterone aids in closing the growth plates in bones, castrating large male dogs before 6-7 months old can cause some bone and joint-related complications. This does not appear to be an issue in small to medium breeds.
There has also been recently studies showing potentially higher risks of a type of blood cancer in certain breeds, as well as possible bone cancer. More data is needed for a complete understanding as to how real and significant this risk is, and how these risks compare to the risks of not timely spaying.
The staff at BLACC can answer any questions you have about spaying or neutering your pet.