Why Spaying is such a good choice
Why What & When:
We encourage that ALL female pets be spayed except for the few exceptionally smart, calm, personable, and healthy few that you want to breed.
When: You can safely spay your pet at any time after weaning as long as she isn't in heat. But the best time is between 4 and 6 months of age for both kittens and puppies. This is after the immune system becomes mature, after their protective vaccines, but before they go into heat for the first time.
1. Spaying your pet makes it much more likely it's going to live a longer and happier life.
Unlike intact females, spayed dogs and cats rarely get mammary cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, or uterine infections. They are also much less likely to have urinary tract infections.
2. Spayed cats and dogs don't go into heat. This solves or prevents all kinds of problems. Pets in heat tend to roam which puts them at risk for being hit by cars, being shot at, and getting in fights.
Dogs in heat often destroy your home trying to break out. Male cats or dogs of the lowest social classes start hanging around your house causing mischief and mayhem.
3. Spayed cats and dogs don't get pregnant. Pregnancy, as you know, is full of potential health risks ( C-Sections, miscarriages, pyometra, mastitis, diabetes, rashes, bladder infections, and any number of problems associated with whacked out hormones) for your pet and possible expensive vet visits for you.
And, of course, you'll have the responsibility of vaccinating, deworming, and finding homes for a bunch of kittens or puppies.
4. It helps to control our over-population of pets. You might already know this, but the urge to have sex can be very strong. And sex causes pregnancy ! And dogs and cats have LOTS of babies when they get pregnant. Often 10 or more a year.
As a result, there are WAY MORE puppies and kittens born each year than there are comfortable, loving homes.
And as a result thousands of pets are killed each year by our shelter system. And when I say thousands... I'm talking just in our sparsely populated Oconee County.
Thanks to the efforts of many volunteer organizations, every one of our local veterinarians and their staffs, and our county shelters the push to spay and neuter, breed less, and adopt more is helping to get our pet over-population tragedy under control. But success still relies mostly on each pet owner being responsible and willing to spay their pets at the appropriate time.
In summary, spaying prevents any number of serious and expensive health problems, makes your female pet less frustrated, less likely to roam, stops the mess and nuisance of being in heat, and it's guaranteed to not result in unwanted offspring that roam the streets or get put down at the shelter.
What: . This surgery removes the entire reproductive tract (ovaries and uterus) from the abdominal cavity. While routine, it's a major surgery that needs to be done under sterile conditions and with great care.
The disadvantages are few but straight forward:
1. It costs money...anywhere from $6-230 depending on whether the surgery is subsidized by fund raising groups or tax paying citizens or by a responsible, independent pet owner.
Also on whether you are willing to spend a little extra to make the experience as safe and comfortable as possible.
2. There's often a little post op swelling, inflammation, or discomfort for a few days. This can be minimized with post op laser therapy, pain medications, and common sense post op care. Most pets recover quickly.
3. And of course, you won't be able to have puppies or kittens if you spay your pet.
Here's what to expect and also about a few choices you need to make regarding the safety and comfort of your pet. Also a few additional things you might want done while your pet is having this procedure:
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. Pick up is usually between noon and 6 the next day. Note; A lot of clinics send home their spay cases the same day but we find that being in our recovery room, being lightly sedated and/or on morphine, and confined to minimal activity, and being rechecked the next morning before going home really helps to minimize post op problems and discomfort.
Consent Form: 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. We'll go over this at check in
Pre-surgical exam to make sure your pet is healthy prior to surgery.
Note; This is not a major work up for your pet's skin problems, diarrhea, and so forth ... it's a presurgical exam designed to make sure your pet's hydration, blood pressure, temperature, pupil response, mucus membranes, pulse, heart, & lung sounds indicate a "go" for anesthesia. (Included in the surgery fee)
Choosing Pre-Anesthetic blood work package:
This is the first of 2 big choices you need to make.
Lab Choice # 1: to make sure we don't lose a patient to some of the more common dangers whenever anesthesia and surgery is involved, we should at least screen for
kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, and anemia.
Lab Choice # 2: If it weren't for money, it would be much better medicine and safer to your pet to also check for infection, protein levels (critical for healing), platelet levels (critical for clotting), and electrolyte levels. For $95 we can do all these tests plus the 4 sreening tests in choice #1, plus some additional tests to get an even better evaluation of the liver and kidneys.... both organs being critical for metabolizing anesthetic agents.
We will probably insist on this higher level of testing if your pet is older, sickly, malnurished, or a high risk breed.
Choice # 3: You can decline doing any lab work if you must save the money. And if your pet is young and healthy, the vast majority of pets have no complications. But anesthesia and surgery are both serious procedures and ocassionally deadly when things go wrong.
You need to sign a liability release if you decline blood work.
Choosing the type of anesthesia:
Anesthesia Choice # 1: Injectable anesthetic agents. Convenient and inexpensive.
This is what I recommend and use on the majority of young, healthy pets being spayed simply because the surgery is fairly quick and serious problems are not too common... especially if the blood work comes up clean. The cost is $65 for most patients.
Anesthesia Choice # 2: Isoflorane GAS Anesthesia. A little more expensive ($90 for most patients), but safer for high risk patients, and results in a very rapid recovery. Pre-Anesthetic sedation, induction medications, an open IV line, EKG, electronic monitoring of vital signs, & oxygen therapy are all included with this choice.
The Surgical Procedure: $75 for cats $95 for dogs (not including anesthesia)
The procedure itself is the same for every patient. Careful and skillful removal of the female reproductive tract under sterile condition assisted by our trained surgical techs.
Extra: Morphine, Domitor, or Anesthetic Reversing Agents are sometimes needed:
Hospitalization and careful monitoring during recovery: no extra charge
Post Op Pain Medications to take home:
Most sexually immature pets don't seem to have much pain after being spayed. But it's got to hurt at least a little. And sexually mature pets definitely experience mild to moderate discomfort after this surgery. We manage pain aggressively while your pet is in recovery at our hospital. But minimizing pain at home for a few days post op is highly recommended unless you want to go to purgatory. $3-10
Some other options to consider:
Post Op Laser Therapy:
Laser therapy greatly reduces post op swelling, inflammaiton, and discomfort...."like it never happened"...
Highly recommended. Just $15
Very easy to insert and greatly increases the chance of getting your pet safely home should it run away or get snatched. $32 including registration
Dewclaw removal (Dogs): Mostly done for cosmetic reasons but removal also keeps them from getting snagged and torn later in life. $15 per claw
Other Stuff: Extraction of retained baby teeth, ear cleaning, toe nail trimming, and other minor requests: usually no charge
Follow up recheck if there are any problems: Usually no charge
Suture removal 10-14 days after the surgery: No charge for dogs, and not needed for male cats
If you're anxious...
We know a lot of you are very anxious and worried about the dangers and expenses of leaving your pet for surgery.
We know a lot of you are worried about your pet's fear, anxiety, and stress while away from home and about the fear and pain associated with recovering from surgery.
We take these concerns quite seriously, and as you will discern from reading this page, much of our standard protocol is devoted to maximizing anesthetic safety and having a smooth, quick, pain free recovery.
As for any worries about expenses, there aren't any surprises; we've listed our fees and will gladly give you an estimate for anything we do at our hospital.
And as for the comfort of your pet during it's stay with us before, during, and after surgery, you simply have to trust us to care as much as we do.
In addition to simply being compassionate and caring, we have policies and facilities designed to prevent escapes, injuries, and infection while at our hospital.
We are big believers in pain management, and big believers in pre-anesthetic sedation not only because it reduces the amount of anesthetic needed but also because it makes most patients calm and blissful.
Shelters and high volume neuter clinics can do a cheaper job, especially if subsidized with tax money, but a shelter surgery won't include all the steps, tests, pain medications, and care that we (and most other vets in our area) take to make sure that your pet will have a successful and positive experience.
Roger Ross DVM