Spaying or neutering is a very common procedure for pets.
It’s called a “spay” for females, and a “neuter” for males — although sometimes, the term “neuter” can be used for either gender.
Spaying or neutering means removing certain sex tissues from the body (ovaries/uterus for females, and testicles for males) in order to prevent pregnancies, and to avoid certain medical and behavioral problems.
Below, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions we receive about pet spays and neuters at Riverside Animal Hospital.
Have a look, and call us any time to learn more!
Why should I spay or neuter my pet?
There are 3 important reasons…
Spays and neuters ensure that your dog or cat won’t get pregnant (or, in the case of males, won’t get another dog or cat pregnant).
This can certainly be good within your own household… but, it has benefits to the pet population as a whole, too…
That’s because it helps prevent pet overpopulation. Each year, more than 2 million animals are euthanized in shelters across the U.S. — and that number could be much smaller if more pets were spayed and neutered.
Maybe you’re thinking, “I only have one pet in my house… so, there’s no way they’ll get pregnant!”
However, that’s not always true…
You see, hormones — estrogen for females, and testosterone for males — can have a very powerful influence on behavior.
When your pet feels a desire to find a mate, they may try to run away — to escape from the home or yard.
This not only leads to unwanted pregnancies… but, it also puts your pet in danger of getting harmed or lost.
But, running away isn’t the only behavioral problem caused by hormones…
For unneutered pets, urinating around the house is a very common problem, even for pets that are potty-trained.
This is true for both dogs and cats — but, you’ll find that urine from an unneutered male cat has an especially pungent odor that’s difficult to clean.
And for females, cats can be especially vocal, with loud howling, when they’re in heat (the part of their reproductive cycle when they’re fertile, which can be as often as every 3 weeks). Often, they keep the whole family awake at night.
Sometimes, pet parents also note that their furry family member is calmer and better behaved at home after a spay or neuter, although this may vary from pet to pet.
And besides behavioral problems, there are also some medical conditions that are a higher risk to pets who’ve not been spayed or neutered…
Medical Problems — Dangers for Males
Neutering your male pet helps to prevent certain prostate problems, and it eliminates the possibility of testicular cancers.
Medical Problems — Dangers for Females
Spaying your female pet can prevent a dangerous condition called pyometra.
This is an infection of the uterus — and it can be extremely serious, even fatal… It often requires an emergency spay (which is much higher-risk and more expensive than a routine spay).
Plus, spaying before their first heat cycle carries an added benefit for females — it significantly decreases their risk of breast cancer.
Is a spay or neuter surgery safe?
Just like all medical procedures, there’s always a small degree of risk — but, most pets can have a spay or neuter performed very safely under anesthesia, and complications are rare for healthy pets.
In fact, it’s one of the most common procedures we do here at Riverside Animal Hospital. And our veterinarians always do a full pre-surgical checkup of your pet, to be sure they’re healthy prior to anesthesia.
Most pets come in for surgery in the morning, and then go home the same day.
They’ll need some monitoring and TLC at home — but, most pets tend to heal quickly, and get back to a normal routine faster than you might expect.
Is the surgery painful?
As with any surgery, there may be some discomfort, especially in the first 3-5 days afterward.
However, we ensure your pet always has adequate pain control — both during the procedure, and also with pain medications to keep them comfortable at home.
How long will it take for my pet to recover?
Don’t worry, we’ll give you specific instructions, so you know exactly what to expect, and how to care for your pet after surgery.
But, as a general rule of thumb, they’ll need closer monitoring in the first 12-24 hours (as the effects of anesthesia wear off).
Then, they’ll need to rest as much as possible until they’re fully recovered. For most pets, that’s in about 10-14 days, when their stitches are removed.
I read that spaying and neutering can have negative effects on my pet’s health. Is that true?
There is some evidence that removing the influence of estrogen or testosterone may lead to other health problems. And for large breed dogs, it may be recommended to wait until they’re finished growing before performing the surgery.
But, this is something you’ll want to discuss with on a case-by-case basis with your veterinarian, who will help you weigh the pros and cons of surgery, so you can make an informed decision.
How much does a spay or neuter cost?
This varies depending on whether you have a dog or a cat, and is based on their age, gender, weight, and any medical conditions they may have.
We’ll create a customized quote once we meet your and your pet at a pre-surgical consult.
We’ll provide you with the information you need, and be your partner in deciding what’s best for your individual pet.
We look forward to meeting you and your furry family member soon!