What is a spay?
Spaying, or ovariohysterectomy, is a veterinary surgical procedure that involves removing the uterus and both ovaries of female pets under general anesthesia. This prevents unwanted litters of kittens or puppies, eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers and reduces hormonally influenced behaviours such as the desire to roam and anxious vocalization.
What is a neuter?
Neutering, or orchidectomy, is a veterinary surgical procedure that involves the removal of the testes in male pets under general anesthesia. This surgery is less invasive than a spay, as it does not involve entering the abdomen. It prevents unwanted litters of kittens or puppies, eliminates the risk of testicular cancer, reduces the risk of prostate cancer, and reduces hormonally influenced behaviours such as aggression, marking territory indoors, and escaping from the home.
Why should I have my pet neutered or spayed?
Millions of healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized annually around the world due to shelter and general overpopulation. By neutering or spaying your new kitten or puppy, you can help prevent the birth of unwanted offspring. Research also shows that neutered and spayed pets live longer, obtain health and behaviour benefits that are influenced by reproductive hormones, and are less likely to develop certain diseases like pyometra, cancers, prostatic diseases, etc.
What are the advantages of neutering my male cat or dog?
- Reduced risk of prostatic diseases in later life, such as benign hyperplasia of the prostate gland (BPH), prostatitis, and perineal hernias.
- Reduced risk of hormone-related diseases including perianal adenomas (a common tumour from the sebaceous glands surrounding the anus).
- Prevents testicular cancer, one of the most common cancers in dogs.
- Reduces risk of spraying or marking urine in male cats.
- Removes sexual urges and decreases the desire to roam and escape in search of females.
- Reduces hormonally-influenced aggression in dogs and cats.
- neutered cats and dogs are normally gentler and at the same time retain their spirit and intelligence.
- It is good for your local community and for the pets themselves. Animals seeking mates may not always find their way back home, and fewer stray animals is good for everybody. Stray cats and dogs not only suffer, but also create an overpopulation problem, that can also be prevented by neutering. Stray animals have also been known to prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, and frighten children and adults.
What are the advantages of spaying a female cat or dog?
- A spayed dog or cat will not go into estrus, more commonly known as “heat.” Female pets, when in heat, experience an urge to find a mate and try to escape. Spayed females no longer act this way. With female cats in heat, they yowl and urinate more often and many times all-around your home. Spaying solves this.
- Cats and dogs that are spayed before maturity will not develop pyometra, a life-threatening uterine infection.
- Elimination of hormonal fluctuations that cause false pregnancy following the heat cycle.
- Prevention of mammary tumours and breast cancer. When dogs are spayed before their first heat, they have less than a 0.5% chance of developing mammary tumours. Cats spayed before 6 months of age are seven times less likely to develop mammary cancer.
- Elimination of ovarian and uterine cancer risks.
- A longer and healthier life.
What are the disadvantages?
Recent research (Hart et al) has shown an increased risk of certain types of joint disease or cancers in large breed dogs (over 20 kg when fully grown) that are spayed or neutered early (under 6 months of age). For this reason, our vets may recommend waiting until your large breed dog is more developmentally mature before neutering them.
A common misconception is that your pet will become lazy and fat. In fact, in most cases, obesity is normally due to overfeeding and not exercising enough. Keeping a close eye on your pet’s diet and caloric intake will prevent obesity in both neutered and intact pets.
neutering and spaying do not affect intelligence or playfulness, nor does it cause personality changes, affect guarding instincts, or reduce affection to their guardians.
When should the neuter/spay operation be done?
Many of the benefits of neutering have to do with sexual behaviour and these develop during maturity. Because these behaviours are much harder to unlearn, neutering is generally recommended before a pet is fully developed sexually.
In general, we recommend spaying or neutering dogs at around 6 months of age, and your cat between 5-6 months old. When it comes to large breed dogs, it may be necessary to wait until your pet is fully grown (see above).
Even so, older cats and dogs can benefit from neutering, so it is never too late. The intervention will not offer all the early advantages but will still give your pets an advantage later in life, reducing or eliminating certain types of reproductive infections and cancers.
Exactly when to perform this surgical intervention depends on the species and the breed, so it is best to seek guidance from your veterinarian.
Are there dangers associated with neutering?
Neutering and spaying are considered major veterinary procedures and are done under general anesthesia. The use of any anesthetic includes the risk of complications, which are dependent on your pet’s age, breed, size, and health status. However, with modern monitoring equipment and anesthetics, we can very much reduce that risk. Anesthetic drugs are carefully chosen based on your pet’s physical characteristics, exam findings and bloodwork. During surgery, your pet’s blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature are continuously monitored. IV fluids are administered during surgery to help to support blood pressure and provide an access point for emergency drugs. Finally, our medical team is RECOVER certified in CPR, in case of the rare chance of complications.
How much does a spay/neuter cost?
Variables that determine the cost of the procedure include size, species, sex, breed, age, and health condition. Please contact our medical team to book an appointment and create a detailed treatment plan.
How can I prepare for my pet’s surgery?
Our surgery team and our vet will go over the details with you. Most pets will need to fast the night before their surgery. Some pets, such as young puppies and kittens, rabbits and other small mammals should not fast.
What happens when my pet undergoes neutering?
Your pet is examined by a vet and your pet’s internal organ function is checked with a pre-anesthetic blood test. If all is fine, your pet is anesthetized. Most pets will be administered the anesthetic via an intravenous catheter, and it will also be used to provide fluid therapy during the surgery. Once a pet is anesthetized, a breathing tube is placed in their airway ensuring optimal oxygen and anesthetic delivery to the lungs. In males, the surgery involves making a small incision in front of the scrotum and removing the testicles. In females, an incision is made just below the belly button (umbilicus) and both the uterus and ovaries are removed. Absorbable sutures will likely be used so they will not need to be removed after surgery. Finally, your pet will receive one or two types of pain medication to keep them comfortable after surgery.
What happens after my pet’s surgery?
When your pet has woken up, we will call you and review home-care instructions, such as medications, feeding, activities, and recheck visits. Your pet will go home with several days of pain medication to keep them comfortable after surgery. They may be somewhat groggy when they go home, so please take care with your pet on stairs and sharp corners and offer them a quiet room where they can rest. Grogginess should wear off by 24 hours after surgery. Some pets have soft stool, or appetite changes in the following few days, which is not unusual and should wear off within a few days. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us.
Are there any post-operative precautions I should take?
We recommend restricting your pet’s normal activities for 10 to 14 days. In the case of dogs, walks will be shorter than normal, 5 to 10 minutes long on a leash. In the case of cats, you will need to discourage them from playing or jumping. If you are having issues keeping your pet calm, please inform our medical team, who can suggest ways to keep them calm.
How do I prevent my pet from licking their incision after their surgery?
Licking the incision can result in irritation or a skin infection, or at worst, can result in your pet removing the sutures and opening their incision, which may require a new surgery. To prevent this, your pet should always use a cone (e-collar) until the incision is fully healed. This usually takes between 10 and 14 days.
Will my pet need to come back to be rechecked?
We may suggest a complimentary in-person or virtual recheck, 10-14 days after surgery. If you are worried about the incision or how your pet is healing before then, please contact us to book a recheck, or send us a picture to make sure things are healing appropriately.
Should I clean the spay/neutering incision?
Cleaning the incision is generally NOT necessary. Check the incision daily for redness, bleeding, swelling, or any other concerning signs. We also do not advise giving your pet a bath until the incision is fully healed. In case your pet gets its incision dirty or you notice any discharge, please give us a call and we will advise on what to do next.
My pet seems to be in pain, even with the medications. What should I do?
Please give us a call if you think your pet needs additional pain control. NEVER give your pet any human medications without consulting your vet first. Pain relievers and many other human medications are toxic and dangerous for your pet!
How long does it take to heal after a neuter/spay?
The most important recovery period is the first few days, and, as mentioned before, 10 to 14 days are necessary for full recovery and healing.
Will my dog or cat gain weight after their surgery?
Sometimes there is some weight gain, though it can be attributed to many causes, such as the natural slowing of your dog or cat’s metabolism as they become adults, and then senior pets. Our medical team can work with you to provide a custom diet and exercise plan for every life stage transition!
Spaying (Females) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutering#Females_(spaying)
Surgical methods of contraception and sterilization, 2006, Lisa M Howe. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16716381/
- Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for 35 Breeds of Dogs: Associated Joint Disorders, Cancers, and Urinary Incontinence. Benjamin L. Hart, Lynette A. Hart, Abigail P. Thigpen and Neil H. Willits, 2020. https://news.vin.com/apputil/image/handler.ashx?docid=9794014
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) MANY BENEFITS OF SPAYING PETS https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/many-benefits-of-spaying-pets
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) NEUTERING OF DOGS AND CATS – POSITION STATEMENT https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/neutering-of-dogs-and-cats-position-statement
The Healthy Pet Club “Benefits of Neutering“ https://www.thehealthypetclub.co.uk/benefits-of-neutering/
Humane Canada position statements regarding neutering https://humanecanada.ca/about-us/frequently-asked-questions/position-statements/
neutering in Cats https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/neutering-in-cats/
ASPCA Spay/Neuter your pet https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/spayneuter-your-pet
ACVS Mammary tumours https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/mammary-tumours
Web MD Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter your pet https://pets.webmd.com/reasons-spay-neuter-pet