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Spaying or neutering is a surgical procedure done by a vet in an animal medical clinic under general anesthesia. The operation ensures your pet won’t reproduce, and results in numerous health and behavioral benefits for your cat or dog.

How Spaying and Neutering Works

Spaying is the process of removing a female dog or cat’s reproductive organs, including the uterus and fallopian tubes. The procedure should ideally be performed before the animal reaches breeding age or enters her first heat cycle, which varies based on the size and breed of your pet. Neutering is the process of castrating a male cat or dog by removing his testicles. In general, a spay/neuter can be done at a few months of age. Consult your vet to discuss the appropriate timetable.

Health Benefits: In addition to being unable to breed, spaying protects female cats and dogs against reproductive system health issues including ovarian, uterine and mammary cancer as well as the uterine infection, pyrometra. In males, neutering protects against prostatic disease and hernias as well as testicular cancer. It also reduces territorial and sexual behaviors.

Tip

  • It’s a common myth that animals who are spayed or neutered become fat and lazy. Maintaining an appropriate diet and exercise regime can prevent this from being the case.

Preop Prep

Your vet will advise you about preoperative preparation for your cat or dog, based on the animal’s age and pre-existing health conditions. Typically, pet owners are asked to limit food and water intake after midnight on the day of surgery. Your vet may recommend pre-anesthesia blood testing to check for pre-existing medical conditions that could complicate surgery.

Postoperatove Behaviors

Vets typically keep spayed or neutered animals on premesis and under observation for a few hours after surgery. This allows the vet to monitor recovery, check for postoperative swelling or bleeding and make sure anesthesia has worn off. Your vet will want to see your pet is stable before releasing him or her to go home.

At-Home Care

Your vet will provide you with a postoperative care sheet that details how your pet’s incision should be cleaned and cared for. You may be prescribed a pain medication and/or antibiotics to give your cat or dog. In most cases, you’ll be advised to keep your pet in a quiet, warm, safe location and limit activity for a day or two. Cats should have easy access to a clean litter box filled with paper rather than sand. Dogs will need to be taken outside to eliminate, or placed on indoor wee pads. Your pet may be groggy and may not be hungry or thirsty the day of surgery, but food and water should be offered and normal appetite should resume the day after surgery.

Warning

  • Vomiting, fever, bleeding, an open incision or extreme swelling should be reported to your vet immediately.

Behavioral Advantages of Spay/Neuter

Spaying or neutering animals makes them less likely to roam in search of a mate, which means a lower likelihood of getting into fights with other animals or being hit by a car. It can lower the propensity to mark territory, and in males, surgical alteration can reduce hyperactive behaviors. In female dogs and cats, spaying eliminates the heat cycle.

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