Most pet owners decide to spay or neuter their furry family member. Spaying is the process of removing both ovaries and the uterus ( complete ovariohysterectomy ) for a female. Neutering removes the testicles of a male. This provides some key benefits for both you and your pet. As you plan for this procedure, know what to expect and how you can give your pet the best possible care.
A Pet Owner’s Guide to Spaying & Neutering
Spaying benefits your pet’s health by reducing the likelihood of uterine infection or pyometra. A pyometra is a serious life threatening infection of the uterus which often requires an emergency surgery. Your pet is often sick and dehydrated and must be spayed as an emergency. Because of the illness and emergency situation the spay surgery becomes much more expensive and recovery is longer. Spaying also prevents breast cancer especially in dogs. Dogs which are spayed before their first heat cycle do not get breast cancer when they are older. If they are spayed before their third heat (approx 2 years of age) the chances are very low for breast cancer. Their risk for breast tumors and cancer exponentially increases if dogs are not spayed by approximately 2 years of age. If your dog is spayed before they go into heat you do not have the blood from their vulva nor have to worry about male dogs hanging at your house. Although cats do not bleed vaginally, they will meow and yowl when in heat to attract male cats. Some cats start marking with urine outside of the litter box when in heat.
Neutering avoids the possibility of testicular cancer and will prevent the desire to roam from home in search of females. When a female is in heat unneutered males know it for miles around. They will travel to the females sometimes being injured or killed from being hit by cars. Unneutered male dogs and especially cats often fight each other when the female is in heat. Neither neutering or spaying will change your pets personality. Although neutering may decrease aggressiveness in some male dogs. Neutering male cats should stop spraying and marking of territory. It is best to neuter male cats at approx 6 months of age before they ever start spraying. Intact male cats also have very strong smelling urine which goes away after neutering. Neutering male dogs prevents prostate enlargement when they are over 4-5 years of age. Some older male dogs require neutering for prostate disease. It is better and easier to prevent it with neutering at an earlier age. Spaying and neutering will avoid unplanned litters and will benefit the community by helping with stray pets which is a major problem in some areas.
When to Do It
Timing is key for both of these procedures. Dogs should be neutered between six to twelve months of age, though they can be neutered as adults if you do not get them as a puppy. Females should be spayed before their first heat (usually around six to seven months) to boost the health benefits in preventing breast cancer. We prefer to spay and neuter cats around 6 months of age as they do well with anesthesia and recover well at that age.
After surgery some pets need an Elizabethan collar to prevent licking of their incision which may cause infection or swelling. All pets should have restricted activity for 7-10 days after surgery. This means no running or jumping and walking on a leash when outside for 7-10 days. It is sometimes a challenge to keep your young active pet quiet to allow healing. Rarely we will prescribe sedatives to help. Pets will receive pain medication at the time of surgery and often after surgery. At CHERRY HILL DOG & CAT HOSPITAL we prefer to do surgery with Laser as it is less painful because seals the nerves as the incision is made. Do not bathe your pets for 10 days after the surgery.
The team at Cherry Hill Dog & Cat Hospital will be happy to answer any questions you have about spaying and neutering. Dr. Douglas Foreman and Dr. Roberta Mauro offer several pet services for residents in Elkton, MD, including dental extractions, laser surgery, older pet care, flea and tick prevention, and prescription diets. They’re known for their top-notch care at affordable prices. See their full list of services online and call (410) 398-1331 to schedule an appointment.