Spay & Neuter

The decision to have your pet sterilized can be a difficult one for some owners. To help alleviate your concerns, our veterinarians have organized this information explaining the benefits, risks, and the surgical procedure itself. We understand that you are placing the safety and health of your pet in our hands. We accept this responsibility and want to provide the best care available for your furry family members.

An ovariectomy is the complete surgical removal both ovaries, sometimes the uterus is removed as well, (ovariohysterectomy). If your pet has not been seen by one of our doctors in the past six months, a pre-anesthetic exam is required before surgery can begin. After arrival, pets are given a “pre-med” injection of sedatives and other medications to help relieve anxiety and stress, make recovery smoother and reduce pain after the procedure. One or both front legs may have the hair shaved to make IV injections or catheter placement less traumatic. Pets are put under general anesthesia and an endotracheal tube is placed in the airway to protect it and to maintain gas anesthesia, exactly as is done in a human hospital. Hair is clipped from
the belly and the pet is moved into the surgery suite. There, the surgery site is sterilely scrubbed and prepped. An ECG is set up to monitor your pet’s heart and devices are used to measure blood oxygen and CO2 to monitor lung function. After being placed on a thermal support pad, an incision is made into the skin on her abdomen, just below the belly button. The ovaries are then located inside the abdomen, tied off with suture to prevent bleeding, and removed. A long-acting local anesthetic is applied to the excision site to help with post-operative pain management. The incision is closed with absorbable suture in three separate layers and a small amount of dye is placed on the skin to identify that she has been spayed. Pain medications are administered, and a bandage is applied over her incision site. You will be called once she is moved into recovery and is awake enough for her endotracheal tube to be removed. She will recover in an ICU cage and be monitored closely. You will be able to pick her up when she is fully recovered from anesthesia, usually mid to late afternoon.

There are many benefits to having your cat or dog spayed. We recommend that all pets be spayed if you are not planning on breeding them. Benefits of surgery include:

  1. No heat cycle – You will not have to isolate your pet for a period of time during her heat cycle. Your dog will not require “panties” to minimize the mess caused by bleeding during the heat cycle. In addition, you and your pet will not have to endure behavior changes typically accompanying the heat cycle. This can be especially severe in cats.
  2. No unplanned pregnancy – Many intact females, even those kept inside, will often be bred accidently. Complications and expenses arising from unplanned pregnancy can be avoided entirely. There will also be no “false pregnancies” with associated behavioral changes and development of mammary tissue and milk.
  3. Decreased risk of mammary cancer – We do see breast cancer in our pets. The risk of this disease is eliminated almost entirely if your pet is spayed prior to the first heat cycle and significantly decreased if the surgery is done before the third heat cycle.
  4. Eliminated risk of ovarian/uterine disease – The ovaries are removed during surgery, therefore eliminating the risk of ovarian cysts or cancer. Spaying also significantly decreases the risk of developing a pyometra, (an infected uterus) which can be life-threatening and requires immediate and involved treatment.

Although spay/neuter surgeries are considered routine, they are still major surgery. As with any surgery and anesthesia episode, there are risks involved. At the Interstate Animal Clinic, we use the latest in drug protocols, anesthesia monitoring, and surgical technique to minimize the risks. Risks associated with the surgery include:

  1. Anesthesia complications – Although most pets undergoing sterilization surgery are young, we still recommend pre-anesthetic blood work to identify any underlying medical condition that would increase the risk of anesthesia and surgery. We also recommend an IV catheter and fluids to provide us access to the bloodstream and help maintain blood pressure should a problem occur.
  2. Infection – An ovario/hysterectomy requires that the abdominal cavity be opened. This introduces the risk of infection. We only perform this surgery under strict sterile surgical conditions to reduce this risk.
  3. Bleeding – Bleeding can occur during and after the procedure for a number of reasons. We offer, as part of the preanesthetic blood work options, a test to help assess clotting ability. Additionally, we monitor the pet closely during and after surgery for any bleeding. You will be contacted immediately should a problem arise.
  4. Dehiscence – (opening of the incision) Because the abdomen is opened during the procedure, it is extremely important that the pet remain quiet during her recuperation and not be allowed to chew or lick at the incision site. If the incision closure is overly stressed with chewing or licking or exercise, it can open up. This is a life-threatening situation and requires immediate attention.

A successful surgery, with no complications, requires the cooperation of both the veterinary staff and the owner. Our clinic strives to provide the best care available before, during, and after surgery for your pet. We do need your help to provide this level of care. Instructions for your pet will include:

  1. Do not feed your pet after 9:00 p.m. the night before surgery. She can continue to have water throughout the night.
  2. Have your pet at our office no later than 8:30 the morning of surgery. We do our surgeries early to allow us to monitor their recovery all day.
  3. Thoroughly consider our surgical options – pre-anesthetic blood work, blood clotting profile, laser surgery, and fluids.
  4. Thoroughly complete the surgical check-in form, including leaving us a phone number where you can be reached throughout the day.
  5. Keep your pet warm and dry after surgery. It is recommended that all pets be kept inside for a minimum of 24 hours after surgery.
  6. Do not allow your pet to lick, chew, run, jump, or otherwise put stress of the abdominal incision. She may need to be crated or wear a cone collar to prevent this. Outside activity should be restricted to leash walking. Caution should be exercised for 1 week after surgery.

When considering the most optimal time to do the surgery for your pet -based on current medical considerations, here are our recommendations:

  1. If your pet is being adopted by a shelter complying with state law – the surgery should be done prior to or as soon as possible after adoption.
  2. If you are not sure whether or not you can keep your pet from getting pregnant – the surgery should be done at or as close as possible to 6 months of age prior to becoming sexually productive.
  3. If you are confident, you can keep your pet from becoming pregnant – the surgery should be done based on anticipated mature body weight:
    1. < 25 lbs at 6 months of age
    2. 26 – 50 lbs at 8 months of age
    3. 51 – 100 lbs at 10 months of age
    4. > 100 lbs at the first birthday

Our doctors and staff have organized this site to answer any questions you may have concerning your pet’s surgery. However, if you have other questions, please call.

Thank you for entrusting the doctors and staff of the Interstate Animal Clinic with the well-being of your pet.