Spaying and Neutering
What is spaying or neutering?
Male and female dogs and cats are mature enough to reproduce between 6 and 9 months of age. This can range based on the specific breed of your pet, or just their personal genetics. We recommend spaying or neutering your pet around 6 months of age to help prevent unwanted behaviors in addition to preventing further health conditions later in life.
Female dogs typically enter their heat cycle every 6 months. There is a proestrus or bleeding cycle just prior to her true heat cycle when she will then become receptive to male dogs. When female dogs are in heat they attract surrounding intact male dogs, which can lead to unwanted pregnancies. The heat cycle can range anywhere from several days to several weeks. You may see changes in behavior during the heat cycle.
Female cats can enter their heat cycle every several weeks. Cats are induced ovulators, however, which means they must “breed” in order to ovulate and end their heat cycle. This is typically done with a male cat, however your veterinarian can simulate breeding to end the heat cycle. During the heat cycle, your cat may exhibit behavior changes, such as requiring more attention, hiding, or loudly vocalizing through your house. Female cats in heat can attract male cats for quite a distance around your home, and this can lead to male cats spraying on your doors and household to mark the territory around the female.
Spaying (ovariohysterectomy) in female pets involves surgical removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and both the ovaries. Not only does spaying your pet prevent any unwanted pregnancies, it can help prevent uterine, ovarian, and mammary disease later in life. It has been shown that spaying your pet before her first heat cycle can drastically reduce her chances of developing mammary cancer. Spaying completely eliminates the heat cycle along with the bleeding and behavioral changes that accompany her cycle.
Male cats and dogs are typically mature and ready to breed between 6 and 12 months of age. They will breed most any receptive female that is in her proper heat cycle, and male animals can breed year round. Intact male dogs and cats tend to roam and will search out females that are in heat, which can often lead to missing pets. Male cats tend to spray doors, furniture, and other structures when marking a territory near a receptive female cat. Intact male pets are also more prone to fighting other animals, which can lead to costly and sometimes fatal consequences. Male dogs can also develop testicular and prostate disease later in life if not neutered.
Neutering male pets involves surgical removal of the testicles. It helps reduce unwanted pregnancies, unwanted behavior, roaming, and fighting. It also helps reduce the possibility of health issues later in life. Against popular belief, most pets will continue to have their same attitude after neutering, but the unwanted behaviors are often curbed.
What do I need to do before surgery?
Before you schedule to have your pet spayed or neutered, be sure to discuss any and all pertinent details and questions you might have with your veterinarian. As with any major surgical procedure, we want to make sure you are comfortable with the care of your pet before undergoing surgery. All of the veterinarians here at Sugar Hill Animal Hospital have the best interest of your pet in mind, and we want you to be happy with your decision.
You can download our pre-operative consent form under our Forms page to look at our recommendations/requirements for surgery. For pets over the age of 7 years, blood work is required to ensure proper function of major organs so we know your pet can handle the anesthesia. For pets under the age of 7 years, blood work is highly recommended. As with people, all animals are different which means they react differently to anesthesia. We want to make sure your pet can handle the medications and wake up smoothly. Our pre-operative consent form also discusses other options (IV catheter, laser surgery, pain medication) that our surgical technicians will go over again with you the morning of surgery.
Food and water must be taken away from your pet at 9pm the night prior to surgery. This will ensure that his/her stomach will be empty the morning of surgery. There are times when water is acceptable until the morning of surgery, and your veterinarian will let you know if this is okay. Your pet needs to be dropped off between 7:30-7:45am the morning of surgery. This will give our technicians adequate time to discuss the pre-operative consent form with you, and you can ask any questions that you might have. The surgeon can also call you prior to surgery should you have any specific questions.
What should I expect after surgery?
After the surgical procedure, your pet will typically stay overnight (male cats can sometimes go home same day). This gives us the opportunity to evaluate the surgical incision the next morning and make sure your pet is eating and drinking normally before going home. If your cat is getting declawed at the same time as spaying/neutering, they will remain a minimum of 2 nights. Your veterinarian will call you to keep you updated, and most animals return home the morning following surgery.
It is recommended that your pet receive a post-operative pain injection to keep them comfortable as they wake up from anesthesia. We also recommend that most pets continue on oral pain medications after they go home. We will discuss any side effects of these medications with you, and should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call us with them. Your SHAH veterinarian is here for you, and will be more than happy to discuss your concerns.
Most animals will not have stitches that need to be removed, however we will tell you if this is not the case. After surgery, your pet may be a bit more tired or lethargic than normal for a few days. Do not be alarmed by this. We encourage our patients to eat and drink normally starting the day after surgery. Should your pet seem uncomfortable or not eating, please let us know. We will instruct you on how to monitor the incision for signs of infection, and should you have any questions, feel free to call us.
We support your decision to have your pet spayed or neutered! You are making a great first step in creating a long and healthy life for your pet. As always, should you have any questions or concerns, give us a call and your veterinarian will call you as soon as possible.