Some pet owners may be questioning if they should spay or neuter their pets. In this post, our vets in Concord discuss this procedure including reasons to have pets spayed or neutered, when to have it done and the recovery from the procedure.
Why Should I Spay or Neuter My Pet?
Spaying or neutering your pet, otherwise known as "fixing" your animal, are elective surgeries that involve sterilization.
According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), about 6.5 million animals end up in shelters or rescue systems annually across the United States. Of those animals, less than half are adopted as pets, meaning that millions of healthy cats and dogs are euthanized each year because there is no space for them.
One of the best ways you can do your part to reduce the number of unplanned puppies and kittens born every year (and lighten the load of rescues and shelters) is to book your pet's appointment at a spay and neuter clinic.
Medical Reasons to Spay or Neuter for Cats & Dogs
Spaying Female Dogs & Cats - Spaying your female dog or cat can help your pet live a healthier, longer life. Having your dog or cat spayed reduces your pet's risk of developing a range of serious conditions including uterine infections or breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 90 percent of cats and 50 percent of dogs.
Neutering Male Dogs & Cats - Neutering your male dog or cat also helps to prevent testicular cancer and reduce your pet's risk of developing prostate issues. This helps preserve your pet's long-term health.
Behavioral Reasons to Spay or Neuter Cats & Dogs
Spaying Female Dogs - While being spayed will not always put a stop to your female dog's instinctive breeding behaviors, generally, those behaviors will cease after your kitty is spayed.
Neutering Male Dogs - Neutering your male dog will cut back on numerous undesirable behaviors including howling, roaming, and aggression. It will also prevent testicular cancer. All of this can help to prevent unfortunate events such as fights with other dogs or being struck by a vehicle.
Neutering Male Cats - Male cats that are neutered will typically prefer to stay closer to home, where they will tend to be safer and get into fewer fights with other cats. They are also much less likely to spray (mark their territory with strong-smelling urine).
When to Have Your Pet Spayed or Neutered
Cats - Kittens can be spayed or neutered as young as eight weeks old. These procedures are considered safe even at this young age. Many animal shelters perform these operations early to make sure kittens are 'fixed' before they go to new homes. It's also best to have these procedures done while your cat is in early development to help prevent your cat from developing bad habits such as spraying. Adult cats can also be safely spayed or neutered.
If you're having your cat spayed or neutered near Concord, our vets are capable of performing the procedure.
Dogs - Dogs are traditionally neutered while they are still young - at about six to nine months of age, while puppies as young as eight weeks can be neutered as long as they are in good health. While adult dogs may also be neutered, there's a slightly higher risk of postoperative complications in adult dogs as well as dogs that are overweight and those that have health problems.
The vets at our Concord routinely perform spay and neuter surgeries for pets and are always happy to address questions and concerns you may have about the procedure.
What To Expect When Your Pet Gets Home
When your female dog or cat is spayed, their uterus and ovaries are removed through a small incision in the abdominal wall so that your pet is no longer able to become pregnant.
Typically when a male pet is neutered the testicles are removed in order to prevent the production of sperm. This means that they will no longer be able to father puppies or kittens.
Following these surgeries, your pet will need a little extra love and attention to ensure that they recover well.
It is very important to prevent your pet from licking or chewing at their incision site. Your vet may recommend an e-collar or recovery suit (surgical onesie) to block your pet from being able to reach the area.
Female pets will have a mid-line incision in their abdomen, male dogs have an incision just above the scrotum and male cats will have two incisions, one on either side of the scrotum.
It is important to check your pet's incision site daily. There should be no sign of redness or oozing, and swelling should be minimal. If you see any signs of infection contact your vet for further instructions.
In some cases, males may appear as if they still have testicles. This swelling is normal and should gradually reduce throughout the recovery period.
Most pets will have internal sutures that are absorbable, with the outer layer of skin held together with water-soluble surgical glue. Do not wash the area, or apply any ointments. Follow the post-op instructions provided by your vet.
If your pet happens to have external sutures or staples they will need to be removed at the end of the recovery period. It's a good idea to book your pet's follow-up appointment when you pick them up on surgery day.
Every pet is different and some pets are more energetic than others, nonetheless, as challenging as it may be it's important to limit your pet's activity for about 14 days following their surgery.
Stretching and strenuous activity (running, jumping, playing, or swimming) could cause the wound to open, disrupting the healing process and possibly leading to infection. Dogs should be kept on a leash when outdoors and cats should be kept inside.
Baths are also not allowed during this 14-day recovery period.
Female pets that were spayed while in heat should be kept well away from male animals that could still be attracted to her.
Your animal will be given general anesthesia as part of the surgical process. When your pet first comes out of surgery the after-effects of general anesthesia can leave them feeling a little nauseous and lethargic.
Expect your dog or cat to gradually recover their normal appetite about 24 hours after surgery. Begin by offering smaller portions at first before moving to full-size meals.
If after 24 hours your pet is still lethargic or has symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, call your vet immediately for further instructions.
Recover Time for Pets Following Spay or Neuter Surgery
Every pet is a little different and your pet's recovery time will depend upon a number of factors including their age, size, and overall health. Generally, cats and dogs are good to resume their normal activities after about two weeks of recovery time. Your vet may recommend a follow-up appointment before allowing your animal to resume strenuous activity.
Be sure to follow the post-op instructions provided by your vet and contact your veterinary clinic right away if your pet is taking longer than expected to recover from their surgery.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.