Spaying Dogs, Cats and Rabbits
What does spaying mean and when can I get it done?
Ovariohysterectomy is the medical term for spaying a female dog, cat or rabbit. It is commonly called spaying and consists of the surgical removal of both the ovaries and uterus. Both are removed because if the ovaries are not removed, the heat periods still will occur even though pregnancy is impossible. At Tremain Veterinary Group we recommend spaying dogs and cats from 6 months of age (however we may neuter earlier in some instances) or three months after their last season for bitches.
What are the reasons and benefits of getting your pet spayed?
Prevention of pregnancy and curtailing heat cycles is the main reason for spaying, but the procedure is also often necessary in treating severe uterine infections (pyometra) and ovarian and uterine tumours.
Some other benefits of spaying can include decreased risk of mammary tumours and decreased risk of uterine infection (pyometra), in addition to no heat cycles and most importantly no unwanted kittens or puppies.
What are the common misconceptions about spaying?
Common misconceptions of spaying are that it will make your pet fat, lazy, change the pet’s personality, or that the pet should be allowed to have at least one litter prior to surgery. Obesity is due to excessive calorie intake and should be controlled by proper diet and exercise, however, spayed bitches can be more prone to weight gain. Your pet’s personality does not fully develop until 1-2 years of age so neutering prior to this age is not likely to affect it. There is no advantage in allowing your dog or cat to have a litter.
What happens on the day of my pets op?
Spaying is a major surgery so your pet’s health will need to be evaluated in a pre-operative check up with the vet before hand. This can be performed on the morning of the surgery if necessary.
The surgery is performed in the morning and your pet will be discharged to you in the afternoon, once they have come round from the anaesthetic. Dogs will have a wound from around the ‘belly button’ area downwards and cats usually have a small wound in their left side just in front of their hip (occasionally for medical reasons we may need to perform a midline procedure as we do in dogs). One of our trained nurses will discharge your pet and give you post operative instructions and answer any questions or concerns you may have. Your pet will need to be kept quiet (although we realise this is not always possible with a young animal!) until the stitches are removed, in about 10 – 14 days. Your pet will be sent home with pain medication to aid recovery.
What does castration mean?
Castration is the medical term for neutering a male dog. It is the surgical removal of the testicles. We will perform this surgery from 6 months of age but we recommend waiting until 9 months to allow further physical development. By this stage both testicles should have descended into the scrotum. If they have not then your dog may be cryptorchid, which means that he has a retained testicle. It is especially important to remove the testicles in this case as they will be at greater risk of becoming cancerous.
What are the benefits of castrating my dog?
Neutering usually, but not always, reduces the dog’s tendencies to roam and to fight. The general level of aggression may also be reduced. In older dogs castration may be necessary due to diseases of the testicles or prostate gland.
As with spaying, your dog will need to be examined prior to the surgery to ensure that he is in good health. Again this can be done on the morning of the surgery if necessary.
When and why should I get my cat castrated?
When a cat is castrated just before sexual maturity, between 6 and 8 months of age, (we may castrate earlier in some cases), the cat’s sexual instincts are noticeably reduced. Sexually driven behaviour, such as roaming, fighting, and urine marking or spraying, is either eliminated or markedly reduced. Neutering also reduces the strong urine odour associated with male cats. Routine neutering does not involve any sutures, but you will need to keep your pet quiet and indoors for 48 hours after surgery.
Spaying and Castrating Rabbits
We recommend spaying does and castrating bucks from 4 months of age. Spaying reduces the risk of unwanted pregnancy, aggression and certain types of tumour, including cancer of the uterus. Castration reduces the risk of unwanted pregnancy, aggression and spraying urine.
We are also happy to discuss neutering for a range of other pet species, from Guinea pigs to rats and more. Please call the practice to talk to a vet.