Spaying is a recommended procedure for the majority of female cats and dogs as it helps to prevent overpopulation in pets, and lessens the risks for many diseases while eliminating the worry of unwanted litters.
Spaying is the surgical removal of the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes of a cat or dog. Once spaying is completed, the cat or dog will be unable to reproduce. The surgery also eliminates many breeding-specific behaviors, as well as the heat cycle.
A pet can be spayed as young as eight weeks old, as long as the cat or dog is healthy. Although the complexity of the procedure can vary by animal, age, and health concerns, the procedure is most usually completed within a half hour to an hour and a half. There’s some recovery time after the surgery, when your furry friend will need to be pampered in order to encourage quick and proper healing.
Spaying a pet that’s in heat can be more complicated because the reproductive organs are more delicate at this time, and there’s more blood to contend with. If necessary, a pet can be spayed while in heat.
Why should you spay your cat or dog?
Veterinarians, animal shelters, and animal welfare groups are all advocates of spaying/neutering cats and dogs, and for good reason. There are millions of unwanted cats and dogs that are euthanized every year at shelters across the country, and many of these deaths could be avoided if the majority of cats and dogs were fixed.
Another major reason for spaying your female pet is to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer and uterine infections. Without unneeded reproductive organs, you can help your pet lead a healthier life.
The last major benefit of spaying is the elimination of heat cycles. When your cat or dog goes into heat, her behavior can become difficult to deal with. Heat cycles are also messy, requiring big adjustments to avoid making messes in your home, on your clothes, and in your car.
Spay and Neuter Emergencies
Spaying and neutering procedures are rarely completed on an emergency basis, but there are some exceptions, including serious injury to the area and infection. If your pet sustains a serious injury to the testicular area, the damage may require an emergency neuter. Acute infections of the testicles after an injury can occur even if the wound is on a different part of the body. Testicular torsion, a condition in which the testicle gets twisted and blood flow is cut off, may also require emergency surgery.
Pyometra is a condition that occurs in unspayed female animals, and can be fatal if not treated quickly. It is a severe infection of the uterus that often occurs after a heat cycle, but can occur in any unspayed animal. Pyometra tends to occur after heat cycles because the reproductive tract is more open to the outside during estrus, and bacteria are more likely to get in. Pets may get very sick before pyometra is obvious, especially in “closed” cases where puss does not leak from the uterus. Treatment for pyometra is usually an emergency spay combined with antibiotics.
Post-Neuter Surgical Complications
Unfortunately, any surgical procedure can have complications. Post-surgical complications resulting from spay or neuter surgeries are relatively rare, but they do occur. Some post-spay/neuter complications include:
- anesthetic complications
- removal of stitches
The number one reason for post-surgical complications after leaving the hospital is improper management. Pets should be kept quiet and prevented from licking their stitches. Following the post-surgical instructions that your veterinarian gives you will greatly decrease the chances that your pet will need emergency attention in the middle of the night.