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Spaying and Neutering Your Pets

Why should I have my pet spayed or neutered?

The proper medical term for a "spay" procedure is called an ovariohysterectomy (removal of the ovaries and uterus). The obvious reason for doing this procedure is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Having a litter may sound very exciting, but potential complications can be dangerous for your pet and expensive for you.  There is always a chance your female will have difficulties in the labor process and may need medical or surgical intervention to fix and sometimes it doesn't always work out for the best. If you have a female you want to breed you also must keep in mind that even though they come into heat at an early age it is not ideal to let them have a litter at this early of an age.  It is important to wait until the females are at least 2 years old before breeding which means you must go through 2 to 3 heat cycles with your female before breeding her.  This is an obvious inconvenience of keeping her isolated from intact males during this time which can last up to 2 weeks each time.  You also have the inconvenience of your dog bleeding every time she goes into heat which can be very messy. You may think she will never get out of your house or yard, but animals looking for a mate can be surprisingly persistent and successful! Female cats will remain in heat and become extremely vocal and annoyingly affectionate until they are bred.

By getting your dog spayed you will also completely eliminate the chances of her suffering from a pyometra (uterine infection).   The risks of your female having pyometra increase each time she goes into heat.  This is a very serious and life-threatening condition that requires emergency surgery to treat. And if done at an early age, spaying your pet will also greatly reduce her chances of developing mammary tumors. 

The proper medical term for a "neuter" procedure is called an orchectomy (removal of the testicles) and is often referred to as castration. Besides the obvious reason of preventing unwanted pregnancies, a neutered male will have less tendency to roam the neighborhood looking for a female and getting into fights. A number of diseases, including FIV (similar to human HIV) are transmitted through bite wounds between cats. A neutered cat is also less likely to "spray" in order to mark his territory. It is important to neuter your male before he develops these tendencies. Once established, these behaviors can be very difficult to eliminate or correct.

Un-neutered dogs will also be more prone to roaming and marking things.  They can develop prostrate problems as they get older and by having them neutered you completely eliminate the chances of him developing testicular cancer and greatly reduces the risk of perianal tumors.

Isn't it better to let our dog go through a heat cycle prior to being spayed? 

The answer is no for all of the above reasons and there is no benefit to the animal to go through a heat cycle or having a litter.

Won't my dog or cat get overweight if they are fixed? 

Not if fed and exercised properly.  While it is true that their metabolism slows after the procedure it is an important time to switch to adult foods and maintain a proper exercise program for your pet.  Also keep in mind that having an intact animal does not guarantee that they will not become overweight.

Isn't it a painful procedure for my pet to go through?

While any surgical procedure has risks and yes pain we do everything we can to reduce the discomfort your pet may have from the surgery.  They are given combinations of pain medication for post-op recovery and kept very comfortable.  Most animals at 1 day post-op do not need any additional pain medication and can go home and do great.

What is the recovery process like?

For the first 7-10 days post-op it is important to keep your pet quiet which can be quite a challenge since they feel fine.  It is important to leash walk your dogs only and not allow them to run free or play with other dogs.  They have stitches that may tear out if allowed to run and play hard.  Sometimes stitches are left in the skin and need to be removed at 14 days but sometimes they are closed with absorbable material that does not need to be removed.  Make sure you ask your veterinarian which your animal has so you can make arrangements to have the stitches removed at the proper time if needed.  Cats should be kept indoors and kept quiet as well.