Almost every pet owner is faced with spay or neuter surgery unless the pet was already altered when adopted or purchased. In fact, at Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center, we do these procedures on a daily basis. They are common enough that we often forget that pet owners might have some questions, so we thought we would take the opportunity to answer some of your most pressing spay and neuter questions.
Do I Really Need to Spay or Neuter My Pet?
The answer to this question, for the vast majority of pets, is yes. At this time, it appears that the health benefits of spaying or neutering a pet greatly outweigh the potential benefits of not doing so for most situations.
Spaying or neutering:
- Decreases the incidence of several types of cancer, including mammary cancer (up to a 25% risk in unaltered pets), testicular cancer, and uterine cancer
- Lessens the likelihood of males developing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
- Eliminates the risk of pyometra (a life-threatening uterine infection)
- Decreases roaming behaviors, lessening the chances of your pet becoming lost or hit by a car
- Helps to lessen fighting between animals
- Can avoid hormonally-driven behaviors, such as urine marking
Obviously, spaying or neutering also eliminates unwanted pregnancies in pets. Unexpected kittens or puppies can be a financial burden and add to the pet overpopulation problem in the country.
While every situation is unique, for most pets, surgical sterilization is the best option. We are happy to discuss this further with you should you have questions.
When Should I Get My Pet Spayed Or Neutered?
- Typically, dogs are neutered around the 6 to 9 month age range and cats are neutered around 8 weeks to 5 months.
- Dogs are usually spayed around 6 months and cats around 7 weeks but before 5 months.
Other factors which can affect the best time for spaying or neutering your cat or dog:
- Size of pet
- When a female dog or cat has their first heat cycle
Isn’t Anesthesia Dangerous?
Anesthesia always carries some inherent risk. That being said, anesthesia is something that we take very seriously. Veterinary anesthesia is safer than ever before, and our staff at Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center takes steps to ensure your pet’s utmost safety.
Pets who undergo anesthesia at our facility:
- Are thoroughly examined prior to anesthesia to identify concerns or risk factors
- Receive pre-anesthetic blood work
- Are anesthetized using a personalized approach
- Receive an IV catheter and fluids
- Are monitored closely before, during, and after anesthesia
- Receive a personalized pain management plan
Will My Pet Be in Pain?
No matter how you view it, spaying or neutering is surgery. That is why we take several steps to prevent and manage pain in our patients whenever possible.
All pets who undergo surgery receive preemptive pain control in the form of pre-anesthetic medications. We also utilize a personalized pain management plan, during and after surgery, which may incorporate non-steroidal and/or opioid pain medication, local anesthetic blocks as appropriate, and other situational techniques.
While pain isn’t completely avoidable, we can do a lot to minimize and manage it.
Won’t My Pet Get Fat?
Weight gain in pets is related to calorie intake that exceeds calorie use. While it is true that a pet’s calorie requirements decrease somewhat after spaying or neutering, making a small adjustment in the diet can completely prevent weight gain in pets after surgery.
Will Fixing My Pet Fix XYZ Problem?
Hormones are often at the forefront of behavioral issues in pets. Spaying or neutering before these behaviors occur is the most effective way to control them. Once the behavior is learned, spaying or neutering may help, but is not guaranteed to fix issues such as:
- Urine marking
- Territorial behavior
- Sexual behaviors
Answering All of Your Spay and Neuter Questions
It’s impossible to cover all of the potential spay and neuter questions in one article. If you have others or would like to discuss your concerns in greater detail, don’t hesitate to ask us. We are always here to advocate for your pet’s health.