Spay Neuter

Castration (Neuter) in Dogs

Castration (orychectomy) is the surgical removal of the testicles. Such surgery is performed to not only eliminate sexual activities and render dogs sterile, but also usually reduces a dog's tendency to roam and fight. The general level of aggression may also be reduced. However, this procedure is not a replacement for obedience training (see Doctor Potter's Dog Care Tips article). In older dogs, castration may be necessary due to diseases of the testicles or prostate gland.

Castration (Neuter) in Cats

The removal of the testicles in cats, just before sexual maturity at 6-8 months of age, reduces the cat's sexual instincts, and the cat becomes sterile. Behaviors such as fighting and night prowling, common in intact males, are largely eliminated with castration. However, castrated cats may still want to go outdoors to hunt. The objectionable odor of the male cat's urine is also reduced.

Ovariohysterectomy (Spay) in Dogs and Cats

Ovariohysterectomy is the medical term for spaying female dogs and cats. The procedure consists of surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus. If the ovaries are not removed, the bothersome heat periods still occur even though pregnancy is impossible. Surgery is usually performed at 5 1/2 -9 months of age. And though it is routinely performed, ovariohysterectomy is a major abdominal surgery requiring general anesthesia and sterile operating technique. Prevention of pregnancy and heat periods is the main reason for surgery, but the procedure is also performed in treating severe uterine infections, ovarian and uterine cancer, and some skin disorders.

Surgical Procedure

Your pet will be given a preoperative physical examination to help ensure its safety during anesthesia and surgery. The Doctor may recommend screening lab work prior to putting your pet under general anesthesia in order to evaluate chemistry values checking liver and kidney function, and blood sugar levels. The Doctor will require the placement of an intravenous catheter as a precautionary measure to safeguard your pet prior to, throughout, and after the procedure. The Doctor will usually recommend intravenous fluids in conjunction to the catheter placement, to help maintain your dog's /cat's blood pressure and overall wellbeing (Note the placement of intravenous catheter/fluids is not required for cat neuter procedures). The operation is performed under general anesthesia. Recovery is generally uneventful and the hospital stay is relatively short, with minimal aftercare.

After your pet's surgery and once you take your dog/cat home, you will want to provide a clean, warm, and dry place indoors for your pet to rest. Check the incision site daily to ensure the site is clean and healing well. Minor swelling and redness at the incision site is normal. Do not allow your pet to lick or chew the incision site, which can interfere with healing. If your pet persists in doing so, please contact us for advice. Do not bathe your pet until the incision site is fully healed and the sutures (if need be) are removed. Water getting on or in the incision can disrupt the healing process. We advise restricting your dog's activity to on leash walking out to potty for the next 14 days. Offer your pet a small amount of food and water under supervision tonight. Feed according to your pet's normal diet tomorrow. Follow instructions for feeding, exercise, and medication carefully. Please call if you have any questions!

Your pet may still be drowsy from anesthesia, but this should subside within 24 hours. During this time, ensure that your pet is confined to a small area with secure footing (no slippery floors) and away from stairs or hazards. The hair on your pet's leg(s) may be shaved at the anesthetic injection or IV catheter site. The hair usually re-grows in 4-6 weeks. You may see some bruising at these sites. **If there is a bandage left on your pet's leg after removal of the IV catheter, it should be removed one hour after returning home.**

Contact us immediately if you notice any of the following: bleeding, oozing, or swelling at the incision site, your pet does not eat or drink for more than 24 hours, your pet vomits or fails to urinate or defecate normally, or any abnormal behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Will it make my dog/cat fat and lazy? No. Obesity is due to excessive caloric intake. Weight can be controlled with proper feeding and exercise. With spaying and neutering, your pet's appetite will increase, and metabolism will decrease. Therefore, it will be important to feed set amounts of food at meal times (1-2 times/day), typically decreasing the amount fed by approximately 25%. It is also recommended that the pet be transitioned from kitten or puppy food to adult food after spaying and neutering.
  • Will it change her disposition? Dog's personalities do not fully develop until about 1-2 years of age (cats about 1 year). If there were a personality change after spaying, it still would have occurred without surgery.
  • Shouldn't my dog/cat have a litter first? No. There is no advantage in allowing your dog/cat to have a litter of puppies/kittens.
  • Are there any problems associated with spaying? A very small percentage of dogs have trouble holding their urine as they become older. This is usually controllable with medication.

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