Spaying Your Pet

Having your female pet spayed is an important part of pet ownership. This will help control the crisis of homeless pets which is the result of irresponsible pet owners. Millions of dogs and cats are unfortunately euthanized every year in the United States because there are more animals than homes for them.

Reasons for Spaying Your Pet

There are beneficial reasons for spaying your pet too.

Your pet will live a healthier and longer life. Spayed female dogs live 23% longer than a female dog who isn’t spayed. Females who are spayed before they come into heat the first time are usually healthier than their unspayed counterparts. Your pet also won’t get uterine infections or breast tumors. Breast tumors are cancerous or malignant in about 90% of cats and 50% of dogs. So, if your pet is spayed before she gets her first heat, then this is the best protection from her getting these diseases. 

Your pet won’t go into a heat cycle once she’s spayed. Cycles do vary but, on the average, female cats go into heat about every three or four days every three weeks when breeding season is active. Because they are seeking a mate, a female cat will yowl day and night and even sometimes urinate in the home.

It’s cost effective. You won’t have to care for and handle a litter. Plus, in most counties, licenses for unspayed female dogs are more expensive than spayed females.

The Procedure

The procedure for spaying a female pet is performed while the animal is under general anesthesia. Your pet will be fully asleep with a breathing tube down her throat. Before she is given the general anesthesia, your pet is given medication in a shot to help her sleep. The shot also helps with pain.

While your pet is under anesthesia, her heart rate and level of oxygen are monitored on a machine. She’ll be placed on a heating blanket during the surgery.

An incision will be made just below her belly button and into the abdomen. Your veterinarian will remove both ovaries, the reproductive tract, and the uterus. Two layers of stitches are made under the skin which will dissolve and be absorbed by your pet’s body over time. The skin is closed with either skin staples, stitches or skin glue.

A healthy female dog or cat can be spayed as young as eight weeks if they weigh more than two pounds in weight. The whole operation for a female cat will take about fifteen to twenty minutes depending on where she is in her heat cycle and her age. A female dog spay takes about twenty to ninety minutes. It depends on where she is in her heat cycle and her age. It takes longer if your pet is in a heat cycle because the reproductive tract holds more blood and is more fragile when they’re in heat.

Possible Complications

If your pet is healthy and young, there is less risk of any severe complications. But keeping an active young pet quiet after having surgery can be difficult, so keep an eye out for post-surgical complications. If your pet is older or was in heat, this could also carry a risk of higher complications.

More common postoperative complications are infection or inflammation in the incision. The incision could open up, the skin could swell from fluid at the incision site, or the incision could begin to bleed if your pet licks or scratches it. Keeping your pet quiet and away from the incision is the best prevention for these types of complications.

Recovery

Within ten to twenty minutes after cats wake up, they can walk around. Dogs take a bit longer, somewhere around fifteen to thirty minutes. The longer the surgery, the longer the wake-up time. One your pet is home, provide her with a safe and quiet place indoors to recover, away from other animals or children.

Try to prevent your pet from jumping or running for up to two weeks or however long your vet tells you. If you place an Elizabethan collar on your pet, it will prevent her from licking the site of the incision. Don’t bath your pet for at least ten days after she’s had surgery. Check the incision site daily to make sure there aren’t any complications developing.

Food and Water

Feed your pet half their regular diet after 8:00 on the evening of the surgery unless your vet tells you otherwise. You can feed your pet their proper meal the next morning and gradually return to regular activity. There are signs to look for such as loss of appetite over a two-day period or refusing to drink any water for twenty-four hours. Also keep watch if your pet appears weak, is vomiting, has diarrhea or is depressed. Your pet may not have a normal bowel movement anywhere from 24-36 hours after the surgery. This is perfectly normal and is not an issue. Your pet has been under anesthesia and has been fasting.

Myths and Misconceptions

There are quite a few of myths and misconceptions about spaying your pet. One is that spaying your pet will cause her to become overweight. If you overfeed your pet and don’t give her the amount of needed exercise, then she’ll put on weight. Another one is that you don’t have to wait until your dog or cat is six months old to be spayed. She can be spayed at eight weeks if she’s healthy, the same with cats. Some other of these myths and misconceptions are listed below:

  1. It costs too much: Many animal shelters offer low/cost spaying and neutering services as well as low-cost clinics. The amount of money to care of a litter of puppies or kittens is more than the cost of spaying. The cost of deworming, the first set of shots and feeding can be about $300. Plus, if there are complications with the birth, it could require surgery or hospitalization.
  2. My purebred needs to have one litter: There aren’t enough homes for all the cats and dogs who have litters, whether they’re purebred or not. Fact is, more than 25% of purebred dogs are in shelters. If you’re a responsible breeder, you already have homes for litters before you pet is even bred.
  3. It’s natural for an animal to reproduce: No, its wrong to have millions of unwanted litters reproduced who are then killed because there aren’t enough responsible homes for them.
  4. If I have homes for my pet’s litter, then she should be able to have one: Actually, when you do that, then you’re taking away a home from an animal who is already waiting in a shelter.
  5. Every female pet should have at least one litter: No, your pet will be healthier if she never has a litter or becomes sexually mature.
  6. Spaying will change my pet’s personality: Any changes in your pet’s personality will be for the better since she won’t be distracted by trying to find a mate. She’ll stop trying to escape and roam.

Pros and Cons of Spaying

There are pros and cons to spaying your pet:

Pros

As stated before, once your pet is spayed, going into heat is no longer an issue. When a female animal is in heat, there is a bloody discharge which will stain her fur a well as your furniture and carpet. She may try to run away when trying to find a mate. If you don’t want her to become pregnant, she’ll have to be continuously supervised.

Spaying can also prevent false pregnancies which leads to hormonal imbalance. Or, your pet can develop an illness called mastitis, which causes the mammary glands to become infected. This is lethal to your pet.

By spaying your pet, it can prevent a disease called pyometra. With this disease, her womb is filled with bacteria and fills with pus. In some cases, the womb bursts and it can be fatal.

Cons

Any surgery has risks, and a spay surgery has those as well. Your pet could have a reaction to the anesthetic, or complications could arise during surgery.

Some pets experience issues with the recovery with sickness and nausea because of the anesthesia. Too, if your pet has external stitches, she may try to chew them or claw them out. In the worst case scenario, if the stitches are ripped out, then your pet’s internal organs can protrude from the wound which can lead to infection. Immediate surgery is required if this happens.

It’s your choice whether you want to spay your pet or not, but have a talk with your vet and then make your decision.