The topic of neutering/spaying a pet should be discussed with your preferred veterinarian and we are happy to help you become more educated on the topic. In this article, we will try to explain what the terms mean and how this surgical intervention will affect your pet. Although this type of surgery is considered a major one it is performed most often and we know a lot about the consequences.
Please consult your veterinarian about the most appropriate time for spaying/neutering your pet. We recommend doing this operation at the vet office where your pets go for health checks regularly. The vet that is working with your animals the longest will understand the health background of your pets the best.
Traditional surgical sterilization methods are Ovariohysterectomy and Orchiectomy. The first term – Ovariohysterectomy – refers to the surgical removal of the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and the uterus from a female dog or cat. This makes the animal unable to reproduce and eliminates the heat cycle and breeding instinct-related behavior. The second term we mentioned – Orchiectomy – refers to the surgical removal of the testes in a male dog or cat. This makes him the animal unable to reproduce and reduces or eliminates male breeding behaviors.
The time it takes pets to recover from spaying/neutering is about 10-14 days and your furry friend will feel much better in just 24/48 hours after the surgery. Make sure you keep your pet calm and do not allow him/her to jump as the incision associated with the operation might open and you will need to seek immediate veterinary help. Sterilization is associated with the use of anesthetic and there is a surgical risk but this is a procedure that is very well practiced and the risk of complications is very low.
There are a few alternative procedures for sterilization that you might want to consider.
Hysterectomy- the uterus and part of the fallopian tubes are removed from a female dog or cat. This will make the female animal unable to reproduce and the ovaries will remain and continue to produce hormones. Your pet will exhibit breeding-related behavior.
Vasectomy- only the tubes that carry the sperm will be removed with this operation. This procedure makes your pet unable to reproduce, but the testes remain and will produce hormones. Your pet will exhibit breeding-related behavior.
Ovariectomy- this procedure involves the removal of the ovaries from a female dog or cat. The uterus will be left intact but your pet will be unable to reproduce. The procedure will eliminate the heat cycle and breeding-related behavior.
The immediate benefit is that your pet will not conceive unwanted offspring and depending on the type of surgical sterilization procedure their mating behavior will be eliminated or significantly reduced. Most dog trainers agree that removing the testes in male dogs makes them calmer. Removing the ovaries in your pet has been observed to reduce their instinct to roam around and makes them more inclined to stay at home. Spaying/neutering is known to improve the health outlook of your pet as it reduces the chance of developing uterine infections, breast cancer (mammary tumors), benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate gland), and testicular cancer. Let's not forget that the expenses involved with breeding may be too much for a pet owner’s budget and spaying/neutering can help in reducing the number of homeless animals on the streets.
My pet will become obese- medical data and observations show that lack of exercise and overfeeding are the major factors that contribute to obesity in pets. You can find studies like this one that say neutered male dogs have a higher risk of being obese online. However, that is the case only with male neutered dogs who were allowed to go on walks and not run free. More research that includes female dogs is needed. There is an interesting study by the Morris Animal Foundation which has been in active development since 2015 and reveals more about how neutering/spaying affects Golden Retrievers in particular. You can read and join the study here.
Neutering/spaying is not a behavioral correction- there is no medical data that leads us to believe your pet will exhibit problematic behaviors less. Surgical sterilization is known to reduce the mating-related instincts and behaviors of the majority of animals that undergo the procedure. However, the consequences of spaying/neutering your pet depend on his/her personality, physiology, and life experience.
My pet deserves the right to become a parent- we should not impose our human understanding of parenting on our beloved pets. Animals engage in parenting behavior up to a certain point and then their offspring is left to roam and grow on their own.
Spaying/neutering my dog will make it less protective- if your dog has demonstrated a willingness to protect you in the past he/she will continue to seek to protect you. Protecting his/her family is an instinct that all dogs have.
Dogs- most dogs are safe to undergo the sterilization procedure when they are between six to nine months of age. Adult dogs can be spayed/neutered safely but there is a slightly increased risk of developing complications for senior dogs. Animals who are overweight and have health problems may experience difficulties in their recovery.
Cats- most veterinarians believe that it is safe to spay/neuter kittens that are at least eight weeks old. Some vets believe that a sterilization procedure that is applied to your cat before he/she reaches five months of age could aid in reducing the instinct to spray urine and eliminate the risk of unwanted pregnancy. It is safe to spay a female cat while she’s in heat.
The cost will vary depending on a few factors- how old is your pet; what sex it is; if your pet is pregnant; if your pet is obese; if your pet is in heat. You can easily find discounted spaying/neutering procedures online. Most veterinary clinics will charge about 100 USD at a discounted pricing while the clinics in the UK are likely to charge about 200 GBP on average with no discount.
Your veterinarian may prescribe minor painkillers so your pet feels a bit better after the invasive procedure. Your dog/cat is not likely to have much of an appetite on the first day but he/she will eat normally on the next day. Fresh water is a must for post-operation recovery so make sure to check your pet’s water bowl often. You will have to go visit your veterinarian within 10 days from the sterilization so your dog/cat can be checked for any problems. If you notice swelling, bleeding, or anything out of the ordinary while your pet recovers call the veterinarian as soon as possible. Make sure your pet is unable to lick the incision or it might lead to infection. Most vets will recommend using an Elizabethan collar (a wide cone placed on the neck of the animal) and some owners may opt for a cushion collar instead. Spaying/neutering is known to impact the animal’s metabolism so consult your veterinarian about the diet your pet can benefit from.