Let’s start by defining spay and neuter. Spaying is a surgical procedure, performed under anesthesia, on female animals. Both ovaries and uterus are removed rendering the animal unable to reproduce.
Neutering is a surgical procedure, performed under anesthesia on male animals. Both testicles are removed, rendering these males sterile and thereby unable to reproduce.
As a general rule these are performed as “same day” surgical procedures. Recovery tends to be relatively uneventful so long as patients adhere to restricted activity guidelines outlined at the time of discharge. After approximately 7-10 days of healing, it’s business as usual!
Ideally, spay/neuter takes place during the puppy/kitten phase, prior to a first heat for females and puberty for males…sometime around 6 months for dogs, and as young as 8 weeks for kittens. Pre-heat spays are strongly recommended.
Older pets can be spayed and neutered, but as a pet ages, the risk of potential complications from anesthesia increase due to any existing health conditions.
Let’s explore what makes the decision to spay and neuter so important.
Most people are aware of the problems relating to overpopulation of both dogs and cats and the burden that it places on shelters trying to house these animals until homes can be found, and communities dealing with strays. Pet abandonment and “back yard breeding” have created a homeless crisis that resulted in almost 4 million animals being euthanized last year because there were not enough people willing to adopt these animals. The majority of these were healthy, adoptable animals. The obvious solution to this problem is to spay and neuter. Pets adopted through a shelter or rescue group will have undergone these procedures, prior to adoption, in an effort to reduce overpopulation. Breeder or pet shop acquisitions will not.
Less widely understood are the health issues directly related to a failure to spay or neuter. Unspayed female dogs are susceptible to Pyometra, a life threatening infection of the uterus that requires emergency, life-saving surgery to remove the diseased organ. In both cats and dogs, spaying eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer, and greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer. Heat cycles are completely eliminated.
Neutering a male dog or cat eliminates the threat of testicular cancer, and greatly decreases prostate cancer risk. Additionally, it prevents unwanted, hormonally triggered behaviors like roaming, spraying, marking of territory, aggressive posturing and biting. While undesirable behaviors fade, it is significant to note that neutering has no impact on a dogs’ instinct to protect home and family.
It’s also important to note that spaying/neutering will not make your pet fat. Just like us, weight problems arise from too little exercise and too many calories!
Spaying and neutering your pets prevents certain types of cancer, and unwanted pregnancies. The benefits are measurable! If you have concerns, or are unsure where your pet falls in the spay/neuter timetable, make an appointment with one of our Veterinarians! Let’s work together towards giving your pet a bright, healthy future! Give us a call at (732) 671-3110.