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All About Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

All About Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

Are you considering whether to have your pet spayed or neutered? Our veterinarians at Lincoln have all the important information you need to know about the procedure, why it's recommended, and more.

Spay/Neuter Surgery

When people refer to getting an animal "fixed," they are usually talking about the surgical sterilization of a pet. In female dogs and cats, this involves the removal of their ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.

Male cats and dogs are sterilized by removing their testes, although in some instances, a vasectomy may be performed where only the vas deferens, which carry sperm from the testes, is removed.

Reasons to Get Your Cat Fixed

Many people who own cats may hesitate to have them spayed or neutered, especially if they plan to keep them indoors at all times. However, veterinarians strongly recommend sterilizing all cats, regardless of whether they are primarily indoor or outdoor pets. There are several important reasons for this recommendation.

  • Protect your cat's health - Fixing a female cat, especially before the first heat, helps prevent uterine infections, uterine cancers, and breast cancer. Fixing male cats eliminate the chances of testicular cancer and lower the risk of prostate problems. Generally, sterilized pets live healthier, longer, and happier lives.
  • Enjoy a more behaved cat  - Sterilized cats are often better behaved. They will be less likely to roam, yowl, wail, bite, display aggressive behavior, or spray or mark their territory. Intact males will do just about anything they can to find mates, including escaping from your home, which puts them at risk of injury or fights with other males. Roaming can also expose your cat to dangerous diseases, including feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. 
  • Fight overpopulation - Millions of healthy cats are euthanized in the U.S. each year because there aren't enough homes available. Sterilization can help control the pet overpopulation crisis and reduce the number of strays which end up in shelters instead of loving homes. Unfortunately, many end up homeless and are left to fend for themselves. 
  • More cost-effective  - The long-term costs of not fixing your feline friend can be excessive. Treating cancers of the reproductive system can be quite costly, as is caring for a new litter of kittens. Additionally, unaltered pets can be more destructive and may fight with neighborhood strays, often requiring pricey treatments. 
  • Your cat will likely be happier to stay home - One of the reasons fixed cats live so much longer is that they are less likely to wander away from home and fight with other male cats. Sterilization stops the production of testosterone. This hormone leads to more aggressive behavior. 

Reasons to Get Your Dog Fixed

Many veterinarians believe that spaying or neutering your dog is crucial to taking care of their overall health and wellness. Here are some reasons why you might want to consider having your dog undergo this procedure.

  • Population control - According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year across the USA. Fixing your dog is the best way for you to help reduce the overall number of unplanned puppies each year while improving your pet's behavior and reducing their risk of some serious health conditions.
  • Prevent disease - Sterilization helps to prevent male dogs from developing testicular cancer and helps to prevent serious health problems from affecting your female dog, such as pyometra (a potentially life-threatening uterine infection) and mammary cancer.
  • Curb unwanted behaviors - These surgeries may also help reduce a number of undesirable behaviors such as dog aggression, roaming and straying, and humping or mounting.
  • Save money - Treating reproductive system cancers can be quite costly, as is caring for a dog throughout pregnancy and for puppies. Not only that, unaltered pets can be more destructive indoors and in your yard and may engage in serious fights with neighborhood strays, often requiring trips to the emergency vet.
  • Your dog will be more contented to stay home - Male dogs that have not been fixed are very likely to try to escape regularly to search for female dogs that are in heat. Unaccompanied roaming can lead to an increased risk of being hit by a car or becoming lost or stolen. Having your dog fixed can help them to feel more contented to be at home with you.

Spay & Neuter Surgery Risks

Before undergoing spaying or neutering surgeries, your pet will receive a thorough physical examination and bloodwork to ensure they are in good health. These procedures require general anesthesia and pain management medications to reduce risks.

Although these surgeries come with some anesthesia and surgical risks, they are commonly performed by veterinarians across the country with a very low risk rate.

It's important to speak with your vet to learn more about the benefits and risks of these procedures, as they may increase the risk of urinary incontinence and certain cancers.

Following your pet's surgery, it's necessary to follow the post-surgical instructions provided by your veterinary team to reduce the risk of infection.

These instructions will include managing your pet's activity level for about 10 days, and avoiding running, jumping, and stairs.

When Should I Get My Pet Fixed?

Various factors can influence the timing of these procedures, but most veterinarians suggest the following:

  • Cats should be fixed before they are 5 months old since female cats can become pregnant as young as 4 months of age!
  • Dogs were traditionally sterilized between 4 - 6 months old, but recently these guidelines have been questioned. Many vets now prefer to wait until dogs reach sexual maturity (which varies considerably between breeds and sizes of dogs) before spaying or neutering. Ask your vet when they recommend having your dog spayed or neutered.
  • Pets in shelters are often spayed or neutered as early as 6 weeks of age before adoption.
  • Healthy adult dogs and cats can be spayed or neutered at any age; however, once undesirable behaviors such as spraying and mounting have been established, having your pet fixed may not curb these unwanted behaviors effectively.

It's advisable to consult with your vet to determine the most suitable age for your pet to undergo sterilization.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to accurately diagnose your pet's condition.

If you want to know more about spaying or neutering your pet, please get in touch with our local vet in Lincoln.

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Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of pets in Lincoln and the Greater Sacramento Area. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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