Neutering and Spaying


Neuter: Surgical removal of the testes in male dogs and cats

Spay: Surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus of female dogs and cats


Why Neuter and Spay?

Neutering and spaying have several benefits for animals. First, they help reduce the overpopulation of animals. Neutering has behavioral benefits for males, reducing aggression, wandering, and marking behaviors. In male dogs it can also reduce the risk of prostate infection. In females, removing the ovaries before their first heat significantly reduced the risk of breast and uterine cancer. 50% of breast cancer in
dogs are malignant, while >80% of breast cancers in cats are malignant. Spaying also decreases the risk of pyometra, a serious bacterial infection of the uterus. Pyometras do not respond to antibiotics because of the amount of pus that fills the uterus; the treatment is surgical removal of the infected uterus. 1 in 4 intact females over the age of 10 will have pyometra.


When to Neuter and Spay?

The general recommendation is 6 months. This allows puppies and kittens to have the hormones for their rapid growth phase, but will remove the hormones before sexual
behaviors arrive and before a female's first heat. Shelters may spay and neuter earlier to ensure sterilization. Your vet may make an individual recommendation to wait longer to spay or neuter depending on the development of your pet.


Is Neutering/Spaying Comparable?

Neutering is a less invasive procedure as the abdominal cavity is not entered. An incision in front of the testicles is made, and the vessels to the testicles are clamped, tied off, and cut, removing the testicles. With a spay, an incision is made into the abdomen, the vessels to the ovaries are clamped, tied off, and cut, the ligament suspending the uterus from the body wall is cut, and then the body of the uterus is clamped, tied off, and cut. Most veterinarians follow the same surgical approach and procedure.


However, if you are comparing costs at different places, be aware that anesthesia and pain management are integral aspects of surgery, and that can vary dramatically from
hospital to hospital. Animals feel pain just as we do, although pain management has only been fully integrated into veterinary medicine since the 1990s. Similarly, anesthetic drugs and anesthetic monitoring have evolved dramatically, making anesthesia much safer than even 10 years ago. Many pet owners are not aware of how their pets are neutered or spayed. You should ask several questions when comparing costs, such as:


  • Do they administer pain killers before surgery (shown to be the most effective to reduce or prevent pain)?
  • Do they send pain killers home post-op?
  • Do they use injectible or gas anesthesia (gas anesthesia is the safest)?
  • Do they place an IV and monitor blood pressure (anesthesia affects blood pressure, and if not monitored, changes in blood pressure can affect the health of your pet)?
  • Do they offer pre-anesthetic testing to be check organ function? Is the facility

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