Wellness & Routine
Spay and Neuter
At Dove Valley Animal Hospital we recommend the spaying and neutering of all our dog, cat, ferret, guinea pig, and rabbit, and rodent patients. The reproductive organs of pets produce sex hormones. The removal of these organs prevents unwanted behaviors, cancer, disease and illnesses, and allows our pets to live longer, happier lives. Cats and Dogs should be spayed ideally between 4-6 months of age. However, older pets can and should be spayed or neutered as well.
Another huge advantage of spaying and neutering your pet is the effect this will have on the overall, world-wide problem of pet overpopulation. Many pets are in rescues and shelters right now that need homes, and we hope you'll feel confident that spaying or neutering your pet helps many others.
- What is a Spay?
A spay is a surgery for female pets, called an ovariohysterectomy, where a small incision is made just below the umbilicus (bully button) and the ovaries and uterus are removed.
- Why should I have my pet spayed?
Having your pet spayed prevents unwanted behaviors, cancer, disease and illnesses, and allows our pets to live longer, happier lives. Prevention is the best medicine.
- What are the advantages of spaying a female pet?
- Preventing mammary (breast) cancer. Dogs spayed before the first “heat” have less than 0.5% chance of ever developing breast cancer.
- Decreasing the desire to roam. When in "heat", the female experiences an urge to escape in order to find a mate. Pets that escape and roam are at risk of contracting disease, getting hit by cars, and many other concerns.
- Prevention of uterine infection, called pyometra. Pyometra is an emergency, life threatening illness. Your pet would then need to have surgery to remove the infected uterus, and ovaries. This surgery is more involved, costly, and will need to be accompanied by other treatments such as antibiotics and hospitalization.
- Prevents uterine and ovarian cancer
- Supports longer lives
- Preventing normal, and abnormal, heat cycles. A heat cycle is when your pet is having her period. This can be messy and difficult to deal with because of the behavior changes that occur at the same time. Heat cycles normally occur in dogs twice a year and in cats all year long. Some pets will have abnormal heat cycles, occurring more frequent or lasting longer than usual
- Preventing the development of aggressive behaviors. If the pet were not spayed and these behaviors developed, spaying is recommended. However, the effect of neutering on these developed behaviors from pet to pet. Preventing the behaviors from developing is the best.
- What is a neuter?
A neuter is a surgery for male pets, called a castration, where a small incision is made in front of the scrotum and the testicles are removed.
- Why should I have my pet neutered?
Having your pet neutered prevents unwanted behaviors, testicular cancer, disease and illnesses, and allows our pets to live longer, happier lives. Prevention is the best medicine.
- What are the advantages of neutering a male pet?
- Significantly reduces the risk of prostate cancer, enlarged prostate, and prostate abscesses
- Reduces the risk of hormone-related diseases such as perianal adenoma
- Prevents testicular cancer
- Supports longer lives
- Decreasing the desire to roam. Male pets have the urge to escape in order to find a mate. Pets that escape and roam are at risk of contracting disease, getting hit by cars, and many other concerns.
- Preventing the development of aggressive behaviors and marking. If the pet were not neutered and these behaviors developed, neutering is recommended. However, the effect of neutering on these developed behaviors from pet to pet. Preventing the behaviors from developing is the best.
Frequently asked questions and concerns
- Will spaying or neutering my pet make them fat?
Since spaying and neutering removes the organs producing sex hormones, there is a change in metabolism. This change is similar to a person growing out of their teenage years. Because the metabolism has changed, the amount of calories taken in needs to be changed too. Spayed and neutered pets that are overweight or obese is the result of overfeeding, not the surgery. By regulating your dog's diet and caloric intake, you can prevent obesity in your pet.
- Will spaying or neutering change my pet's personality?
There is not an association between changes in personality with spaying and neutering. Aggression and your pets desire to escape and roam will likely be decreased, which may seem like your pet is calmer. But your pet will be as loving and playful, and react to things and people the same as before the surgery.
- Is it beneficial for a female pet to have one litter before being spayed?
There is no scientific evidence that suggests a female will have any health or behavioral benefits from having a litter. However, there is much support for health and behavioral benefits from having her spayed!
- Will the procedure be painful for pet?
We always practice low impact anesthesia focusing on multi-modal pain management. Multi-modal means we incorporate different types of medication, such as local blocks (lidocaine) and anti-inflammatory medications before, during, and after surgery. This will provide your pet the best pain management possible.
- Can I afford to spay or neuter my pet?
Yes you can. We keep the cost on these procedures low to help you be able to have the best preventive medicine for your pet. A spay or neuter is a onetime investment and prevents the treatment for many conditions that are much more costly.
- Are there any dangers associated with the operation?
Spaying and neutering are surgeries that require general anesthesia. While anesthesia always carries some risk, we use the safest possible anesthetic protocol to ensure the risk of a complication is very low. We will also examine your pet before surgery to evaluate for any disease or illnesses that may increase your pet's anesthetic risk. We also recommend pre-operative bloodwork, and the use of an IV catheter and fluids during every surgery to further increase the safety of general anesthesia.
- Does spaying or neutering my pet really help the pet overpopulation problem?
Absolutely! There are simply more pets needing homes than there are good homes. And far too many pets are being euthanized because of this. Pets in the shelters are often stray animals, but much more commonly than you might think they are from good families that couldn't find homes for their litters. Or families that are experiencing hard times and don't have anybody to help. Or pets that were turned in to shelters because of behavioral issues such as aggression, which could have been decreased or prevented by spaying or neutering too! Overall, yes, you are absolutely helping the pet overpopulation problem by spaying and neutering your pet.