What:This surgery removes the ovaries and the uterus. On the one hand this is a routine surgery in that we do so many, but in fact, it's a major surgery in that deep anesthesia is needed and we need to open up the abdomen to get to the female sex organs.
When: Shelters frequently spay kittens and puppies as early as 8 weeks old, but the very best time is after puppy or kitten vaccines have been completed, after the young pet's immune system is working well, but before sexual puberty. That means the best time is between 4 and 6 months of age for both kittens and puppies. This is also the age we recommend castration for male kittens and puppies.
This surgery means no unwanted puppies, no fatal uterine infections, no ovarian cancer, and greatly reduced change of mammary enlargement and breast cancer.
And it keeps your dog from going into "Heat" and all the roaming, running away, mess and bother of being in heat.
It also prevents heat associated urinary tract infections.
The costs of treating any of these potential problems are a lot more than the costs of spaying your pet, so another advantage is that you save money !
The disadvantages: There's only a few reasons not to spay your pet. Wanting to breed your dog is the most common legitimate reason. Spayed pets are more likely to gain weight. And of course, there are costs and medical risks but usually less so than unspayed dogs.
Here's what to expect when it's time to spay your pet:
The following is the routine at our clinic. Some of the details will be different at other clinics.
Check In: We usually ask you to drop your pet off during the morning before 11 am on an empty stomach. That means no solid food for about 9 hours prior to surgery.
Consent Form: At our clinic we ask you to sign a consent form. The main reason we do so is to drive home the idea that anesthesia and surgery is serious business. A responsible adult will be asked to sign a consent form designed to inform you that of course there are some risks and expenses involved.
Presurgical exam to make sure your pet is healthy prior to surgery. To make sure your pet's hydration, mucus membranes, heart rate, pulse strength, and so forth are all normal.
We want to make sure your dog isn't in heat ... this greatly increases risk due to poor clotting and a weakened immune system.
Pre-Anesthetic blood work: Highly recommended to reduce the risk of anesthetic problems in case of undetected diabetes, immune problems, kidney disease or liver disease:
Bathing and parasite control: only required if your pet is filthy or covered in fleas or ticks.
Pre-anesthetic sedation and pain medications: It's important to the health and comfort of your pet to spend a little extra for pain management.
Pre-anesthetic sedation has several advantages; it reduces the total amount of anesthesia needed, makes induction and recovery smoother, improves muscle relaxation, and makes the whole experience much less frightening to your pet.
Anesthesia: It's expensive to intubate, to use the latest in gas anesthesia, to have a trained assistant managing anesthesia, and to have monitoring equipment running. It's much less expensive to use injectable anesthetics. The less expensive route usually works out fine, especially on young healthy pets, but there are health advantages to using gas. Some vets insist on using gas anesthesia... because it's the safest and the highest standard of medicine. I respect that, but it means a much high fee to the client. This is just one reason that the fees vet charge for this and other surgeries can be so different. At our clinic, we do 4-5 spays a day that are financed by our county shelter or one of the several rescue groups in our area. The money allowed by the shelter precludes us from using gas anesthesia on our shelter cases.
We have very few anesthetic deaths using injectable anesthetics.
But one of the reasons we have so few deaths is that we insist on gas anesthesia if the patient is older or has either obvious health problems or problems revealed on blood work. For our non shelter patients, we base or anesthetic recommendations on a case by case basis.
On This Page:
What to expect when you bring your cat or dog to the clinic for spaying.
... And a few pictures of unwanted cats and dogs... the consequence of not spaying our pets.
Cardiology Heart disease in Cats, Cardiac Hypertrophy, Valvular disease, Cardiac Insufficiency, Congestive Heart Failure, Heartworm Disease, and a little history about the milestones in treating heart disease
Cats: general information page and directory of diseases and problems specific to cats including vaccine recommendations, leukemia, feline viral infections, feline upper respiratory disease and cats that just aren't feeling well.
There is a complete site map at the bottom of this page
The Surgical Procedure: I'll keep this basic; once safe and comfortable anesthesia and pain management is reached, and the surgery site is scrubbed and sterilized, we open up the skin and abdominal wall exposing the abdominal organs.
We inspect the visible abdominal cavity and organs for problems.
We then clamp off and ligate the ovarian arteries and veins, tie off the uterus and remove the ovaries and uterus. We then suture everything up
IV Fluids: Most young, healthy and robust pets do really well during spay surgeries and recovery quickly without IV Fluids. But surgical standards are rising and certainly no human doctor would perform anesthesia for a major surgery without an IV line open.
Open abdominal surgery causes major stress to the cells, dehydration, electrolyte changes, and fluid losses...all of which are minimized by running IV Fluids. Especially recommended for older pets, pregnant pets, and pets in heat.
Other extras and options:
Extraction of retained baby teeth, ear cleaning, toe nail trimming, and other minor requests
Dewclaw removal: this is a good time to remove unwanted dewclaws if you want.
Fluoride treatment: If the adult teeth are in, I like to recommend treating your pet's teeth with fluoride.
Additional pain medication to take home: Your vet will probably dispense pain medication to minimize post op discomfort.
Follow up recheck if there are any problems
Suture removal 10-14 days after the surgery
For those that like illustrations. the above picture is excellent to visualize our surgical goal; which is to remove the uterus and ovaries
Some cities, especially in Eastern Europe and Asia where spaying and neutering aren't common, are overwhelmed with cats. The life of a semi wild cat is indeed, nasty, brutish, and short.
Greenville, SC is the closest big city to our practice. It's really a small city.... about 200,000 people in the city and nearby suburbs. But even this small city had over 20,000 dogs and cats in their shelter last year.
The Greenville shelter does an exceptional job of finding homes for these stray pets. They put pictures on television, they have fund raisers, they promote and provide super low cost neutering and spaying. They promote dog walks and other big events celebrating the human-animal bond and pet owner responsibility.
They were able to place over 6,000 pets in new homes. ..... the rest had to be euthanized.
At the present time, our shelters are being overwhelmed with pitbull and pitbull mix puppies like the ones pictured above. It seems like our most irresponsible class of people all want a pitbull now to show how "bad" they are. I don't have a problem with people liking pitbulls... but whatever kind of pet you have... please understand that your pets needs love, attention, training, discipline, decent food, and enough money to provide heartworm prevention, intestinal worm control, flea control, vaccines, spay-neuter, and a couple of hundred dollars in reserve for the inevitable accident or illness.
As a vet on the front lines, I don't see many of these pitbulls for routine vaccines, deworming, or spaying... I see them when they're dying of parvo or suffering from bite wounds, demodex mange, heartworm disease, and most commonly from severe hook or whip worm infestations. Why is it that the people who drop out of high school, can't seem to hold a job, and spend all their spare cash on addictions, vices, and vehicles seem to have the most children and pets?
If you have a pet, no matter what economic class you belong to, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, I urge you to at least have that pet spayed or neutered. Why? To prevent bringing more and more unwanted litters that end up being euthanized in our shelters or roaming the streets until they die from parasites, diseases, car accidents, and bite wounds.
There's no excuse not to anymore... almost everywhere in our country there are spay-neuter programs where other people have raised money so that you can get your pet done for less than you spend on your cigarettes, dope, and beer for a day.
Okay, I'm almost finished with my rant. But one more thing. We participate in our county's spay and neuter programs that offer very low cost certificates ... all of which were designed to get people that "can't afford" to have their pets spayed and neutered ... do so. The money required comes from donations and those of us who pay taxes. Guess who takes advantage of these low cost certificates? More often than not it's people with nice cars, nice homes, big vacations and so forth who simply see a good deal. With many exceptions, the truely poor just don't seem to care and can't be bothered to plan ahead.