Considering “fixing” your pet? Then give yourself a huge pat on the back. You are being a responsible pet owner! Spaying and neutering allow dogs and cats to live longer, healthier and happier lives. New pet owners always have lots of questions about the procedure and remain very concerned about putting their pet through something painful. So let’s settle your concerns.
What are Spaying and Neutering?
Female pets get spayed, and males get neutered. Neutering is the simpler surgical procedure of the two. Also known as castration, it is when a vet surgeon removes your cat’s or dog’s testicles. Spaying female pets is a bit more involved. Referred to as an ovariohysterectomy, the surgery is invasive and requires us to remove both the uterus and ovaries.
Benefits of Spaying and Neutering
To the uninitiated, conducting these procedures on cute little pets may seem unethical, cruel and even draconian. While veterinarian researchers have recently started to discover a few drawbacks to neutering male dogs, the benefits vastly outweigh the disadvantages. There are three main reasons why you would want your pet to undergo spaying or neutering.
1. Population Control
Overpopulation of cats and dogs is a serious problem across the globe. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that one un-spayed female dog and her offspring can produce11,167 puppies per year. One un-spayed female cat and her offspring can produce 60,000+ in their lifetime.
These are astounding numbers. It is no wonder why shelters, where they exist, cannot find homes for all pets no matter how hard they try. In many countries, cats and dogs are simply left to wander the streets and fend for themselves. Euthanization of puppies, dogs, kittens and cats occurs on a daily basis and on a massive scale. Keeping dogs and cats from having litters is the only way to reduce this problem.
2. Behaviour Management
Unneutered male dogs are more likely to bite or exhibit aggression towards their owners, other dogs, and children. They are also difficult to train and their natural urge to seek mates will prompt them to run away. This exposes them to dangerous encounters with other animals and vehicles.
Unneutered male cats will also have the tendency to run away for the same reason. Furthermore, stress or an upset mood will prompt them to urinate on your furniture in defiance. They will also do this to mark their reproductive availability.
Unspayed female cats and dogs do not have the same level of behavioural issues. However, they are more likely to fight with other animals when they are “in heat”, the period of the menstrual cycle when they are most fertile and can become pregnant. Also, you will have to contend with your unspayed female cat’s period several times a year, where she will have bloody discharge from her vulva.
3. Life Span
Simply put, “fixed” animals live longer, period. Partially, this is because they have much lower incidents of fights and encounters with cars as mentioned above. However, the chances of getting testicular tumours and other forms of cancer run high in unneutered male dogs and cats.
For females, the risks of not getting spayed are even greater. It leaves them highly susceptible to infections of the uterus known as pyometra. They can also develop painful ovarian cysts along with mammary cancer which is almost always, fatal in both cats and dogs.
When To Spay or Neuter?
Your vet can advise when to spay or neuter your pet. Generally, we recommend female pets get spayed when they are 4 – 5 months old. Their sex organs are fully formed by then and it is just before they experience the first heat when they could get pregnant.
Most male dogs are sexually mature at 5 or 6 months of age. However, testosterone contributes to their growth. Consult with your vet about the best time to get your dog fixed. Male cats tend to reach sexual maturity between 6 and 12 months of age. Considering neutering them before they begin prowling for mates.
Pain & Recovery
Spay and neuter surgeries are routine and straightforward. During surgery, we fully anesthetize your pet so they feel no pain. Just like humans, they might be a little groggy when you pick them up after surgery. To prevent them from licking the wound, we will set your pet up with an Elizabethan Collar (The Cone of Shame), and prescribe appropriate vet-specific pain medication to manage the discomfort that could set in after the surgical medications start to wear off. Never administer human medications, like aspirin, to your pet and limit their feeds to small portions for the rest of the day to prevent vomiting.
Spay and neuter wounds tend to heal within 10 -12 days. During this time, give your pet plenty of TLC and watch the wound for any signs of swelling and infection. Do not bathe your pet and keep their activities limited and low key.
About Wellington Veterinary Hospital
Wellington Veterinary Hospital is operated by Dr. Cliff Redford, a veterinarian with over two decades of experience. Our caring and passionate team of professionals provides a full range of services for your canine and feline companions. We are always delighted to meet new pets, answer your questions and offer preventative health care tips during free assessments with our veterinary technicians. Our location in Markham, Ontario offers plenty of free parking, convenient operating hours and a 24-hour emergency call line.