At My Best Friend Veterinary Center, we recommend having your pets spayed or neutered.
For dogs, the timing of the ovariohysterectomy (spay) and castration (neuter) procedures will vary depending on breed and size. There are many benefits associated with spaying and neutering, including reduced risk for mammary and testicular cancers, reduced risk of life-threatening uterine and prostate problems, as well as favorable behavioral changes. These benefits are time-sensitive and need to be weighed against the problems that can affect some dogs if surgery is done early, or added to the procedural risks if performed after they are fully grown.
Small dog breeds are typically done around 6-8 months of age (unless so tiny we want to wait longer). Large dog breeds are typically fixed around 7-11 months of age. We will make a recommendation for your specific pet based on these factors as well as any other health concerns.
In general, we recommend most cats are spayed or neutered around 6 months of age. This is especially important in male cats as it may prevent marking behavior around the home.
We care about each and every pet that comes through our doors. We offer spay/neuter services to help pet owners who want to take a proactive approach to their pet’s health, and we are here to answer any questions you may have before and after your dog or cat is spayed/neutered.
Spay and Neuter Procedures Explained
Spaying or neutering describes surgical sterilization. Spaying of females involves the removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. This makes females unable to reproduce, eliminates their heat cycle, and stops breeding instinct-related behavior. Neutering of males involves the removal of the testicles. This makes males unable to reproduce and reduces or eliminates male breeding behaviors.
Here’s what to expect at your pet’s spay/neuter appointment:
- Plan for your pet to stay with us for the day while we monitor them closely, ensuring a safe and comfortable recovery.
- Because general anesthesia is required to perform surgery, we first perform a thorough physical exam and recommend blood work to ensure that your pet is healthy before we begin. These tests also help us develop an anesthetic protocol that is specific for your pet.
- An IV catheter is placed in your pet’s leg and they are placed under general anesthesia.
- Advanced monitoring equipment is used to record your pet’s vitals by a surgical technician who observes them the whole time they are asleep.
- The veterinarian then performs the surgical procedure.
- We continue to monitor your pet as they wake up from anesthesia while keeping them warm and comfortable. Once they are fully recovered from anesthesia, we will call you to let you know how the procedure went.
- At pickup, we will review at-home care instructions with you and provide any necessary medications.
- If external sutures or staples are used, your pet will need to return 10-14 days following their procedure to check the surgical area and have the sutures or staples removed.
Benefits of Spaying a Dog or Cat
Spaying and neutering is the only effective birth control option for pets. Currently, this method is the best prevention we have for pet overpopulation. Many people are surprised to learn how difficult it can be to place a litter of puppies or kittens until after they have been born. When you decide to spay or neuter your animal, you are part of the solution to end homelessness in pets.
Additionally, your dog or cat sees many health benefits from being spayed or neutered. Neutered dogs and cats have less risk of prostate cancer and testicular tumors. Similarly, spayed dogs and cats are less likely to develop pyometra, a serious and life-threatening uterus infection. Females also benefit from a reduced chance of developing mammary tumors if they are spayed.
Behavioral benefits may also result from a pet being spayed or neutered. For example, animals in heat often roam outside of their yard to find a mate. If a dog or cat is spayed/neutered, they are more likely to stay in their yard or become a “homebody.” Furthermore, it may help males with marking behaviors or aggressiveness issues, especially if done at a younger age. Either procedure will typically lower overall energy levels, which can help with focus and training.
Is spay or neuter surgery painful? Can it harm my pet?
Spay/neuter surgery is safe. While the surgery is conducted, we put your pet under general anesthesia. As with any surgery, using anesthesia does come with some risks, but we have a number of safe anesthesia medications and protocols that can be used to ensure that your pet gets the individual care that is most safe for them. Postoperative care also includes pain-reducing medication so your dog or cat can recover with little pain.
At what age should my dog or cat be spayed or neutered?
Both dogs and cats can be spayed/neutered as young as five months old. But because each dog will have specific factors that must be weighed prior to the procedure, we will discuss when the right time for your pet is with you. We often use the first puppy care or kitten care visits to discuss spaying/neutering. We recommend microchipping on the day of their spay/neuter to minimize pain.
Shouldn’t a female dog or cat have one litter, or at least one heat cycle, before being spayed?
Generally, we recommend you have your dog or cat spayed before their first heat cycle or before they expect their first litter. Spaying early on is more effective at reducing the risk of mammary tumors as opposed to waiting until the first heat cycle occurs. This will be weighed against some of the orthopedic issues that can be associated with spaying a dog early. Dogs and cats are more predisposed to cancer if they do not undergo spaying/neutering.
Can a pregnant dog or cat be safely spayed?
A pregnant dog or cat may be spayed early in their gestation cycle. However, performing surgery late into the pregnancy is risky and we do not recommend it.
Don’t sterilized dogs and cats become overweight?
If an animal is sterilized, it does not typically put on weight. The pet may have a decrease in energy and metabolism and require less food than if left intact. If you do notice a weight problem developing, it is important to talk to your veterinarian about an overfeeding issue. We often address weight issues during your annual visit, but if you are concerned before that, please contact our office.
My dog is a guard dog. If I neuter him, will that stop him from protecting my house?
No – male dogs who are used as guard dogs do not lose their protective instincts if they are neutered.
Does spaying or neutering make dogs and cats less affectionate?
No – spaying or neutering your pet does not make them less affectionate.
My dog leaves urine marks all over my house. If I neuter him, will that stop?
If a male dog marks in the house, neutering him is likely to reduce urine marking behaviors. Unfortunately, the longer this behavior has gone on before castration the more likely it has become a habit and less likely to change.
Contact My Best Friend Veterinary Center
Ensuring your pet’s pain-free, speedy, and healthy recovery are our constant goals in performing surgical procedures. If you are considering having your dog or cat spayed/neutered or have additional questions, contact us today. We are happy to provide you with the resources and support you need to make the right choice for your family!