There are so many reasons to have your cat, dog, or rabbit spayed or neutered.
Reasons for Spaying Pets
Females who are spayed have a decreased risk of mammary cancer. If spayed before the first heat (usually around 5-6 months of age), the risk is nearly 0%! On the other hand, 25% of dogs spayed after the second heat cycle will get mammary cancer at some point in their lives. Did you know that 90% of cat mammary tumors are cancerous, and 50% of dog mammary tumors are cancerous? There aren’t too many things in life you can prevent so easily!
For females, another life threatening illness that you can easily prevent by spaying is pyometra. Pyometra is a bacterial infection in the uterus, typically occurring shortly after a heat cycle. Treatment is spaying, but this is not your typical spay…this involves IV fluids, antibiotics, bloodwork, and hospitalization. Major money, and still there’s risk of death due to massive infection or kidney failure.
Reasons for Neutering Pets
For male dogs, the main reason to neuter is to prevent prostate problems. The prostate enlarges in unneutered males, and this predisposes dogs to infection, abscess formation, and cysts. Once infection is present in the prostate, it is difficult to eliminate without neutering in addition to long term antibiotic treatment.
Male cats have a particularly strong urine odor if not neutered. Many of these cats will end up outdoors due to this offensive odor. Unneutered male cats tend to fight to defend females and territory, and abscesses are very common results of cat fights.
Behaviorally, both male and female pets benefit from spaying and neutering by reducing hormone related aggression and mate-seeking activity.
Why does it cost more to spay my pet if she is in heat or pregnant?
Dogs and cats in heat or pregnant have huge changes to the blood supply and size of the uterus. This increase in blood supply increases the risk of bleeding and amount of time surgery takes. Keep in mind that dogs who have bleeding with their heat cycle are still “in heat” for a few weeks after the bleeding stops (this is when they will mate and get pregnant), and cats that do not mate will continue to cycle in and out of heat for several months. Sometimes we can tell if a dog or cat is pregnant or in heat before surgery, but sometimes it is only evident when surgery is performed and the veterinarian sees the size of the uterus.
What does cryptorchid mean?
Normal male dogs and cats have two testicles in the scrotal sac. These testicles start out in the belly before birth and move into the scrotum at birth or shortly after. Cryptorchid means that one or both of the testicles did not find their way to the scrotum. These testicles can be retained in the belly or found in the groin area, depending on how far along on the journey they were before they stopped moving. Surgery to remove the retained testicle(s) can involve an extra incision in the groin area or into the abdomen. It is very important to remove both testicles as a cryptorchid testicle has a much higher risk of developing cancer or twisting on itself and needing emergency removal.
What is an umbilical hernia and why do I need to fix it?
An umbilical hernia is an “outie” belly button on a dog or cat. They are very common. Most of the time, these hernias contain a little bit of fat that came from the belly and is poking out through a very small hole (“closed” hernia). But sometimes the hole is large enough that the fat (or other things like intestines) can move in and out depending on the position of the animal (“open” hernia). These are the hernias it is important to fix, because if a piece of intestine gets stuck in the hole, it could lose it’s blood supply and die, which is very serious. If you are unsure if your pet’s hernia is open or closed, we can usually tell at the time of surgery. While it is important to repair an open hernia, we can also repair a closed hernia for cosmetic reasons or just to be on the safe side.
Dewclaws are the “thumbs” on a dog or cat’s feet. Cats usually have no problems with dewclaws, but dogs sometimes have floppy dewclaws with nails that get caught on things and tear, or break the nail. If your dog has this problem, the dewclaws can easily be removed at the time of surgery. Unattached dewclaws are only attached by skin to the foot; attached dewclaws are attached to the foot by bone. Your pet may go home with a temporary bandage if the dewclaw(s) are removed.
What are deciduous teeth and why would I have them removed?
Dogs and cats have baby teeth and adult teeth. It is very common, especially in small breeds of dogs, for some of the baby teeth to stay in the mouth after the adult teeth have come in. This can cause the adult teeth to grow in crookedly, and because the adult and baby teeth are so close together, tartar will rapidly form between them. It is important to remove the baby teeth so that the adult teeth will be as healthy as possible. We will extract baby teeth in dogs less than one year of age. Dogs older than one year of age may need a dental cleaning due to the tartar buildup and should have this done with your daytime veterinarian along with deciduous tooth extraction.
Does my dog need an ear pluck or anal gland expression?
If your dog has hair growing out of his ears, like many poodles or curly-haired breeds of dogs, he will benefit from having the hair plucked out. This will keep the ears free of wax and debris buildup and will help to prevent ear infections. This can be uncomfortable for your dog and so we offer it while your dog is under anesthesia. Keep in mind that the hair will grow back, and your groomer can remove this hair during grooming.
Anal glands are pea sized glands in the rectum that accumulate a musky, foul smelling fluid. Typically this fluid is squeezed out during a bowel movement, but for some dogs, the fluid builds up and causes the glands to swell in size. Typical symptoms of this swelling are scooting of the bottom on the floor, licking the anal area, and a foul, musky odor. We can empty anal glands to help them become healthy again. Many dogs need this done on a regular basis by your groomer or veterinarian. We do not recommend expressing your dog’s anal glands if he does not have any problems with the glands at this time.
We require a distemper combo and rabies vaccines for all dogs and cats, and can administer them here on the day of surgery. These are considered “core” vaccines and are recommended for all dogs and cats to prevent common and deadly diseases. There are other “noncore” vaccines that might be right for your pet depending on his lifestyle.
For dogs who are boarded, go to the groomer, or meet other dogs on a regular basis (on walks, at the park), a Bordatella (kennel cough) vaccine is recommended. Kennel cough is a nagging bronchitis type infection that is highly contagious. Most boarding facilities and groomers will require this vaccine. It is typically given as drops in the nose (no needle) once a year.
For cats who go outside, a Feline Leukemia (FELV) vaccination series can help prevent the Feline Leukemia virus. This virus can cause an AIDS-like infection in cats (not transmissible to people) and can cause early death from immune suppression. It can be transmitted by sharing water and food bowls, nose-to nose contact, and from mother to kittens. This vaccine is given as a series of two shots 3-4 weeks apart initially, then once a year after that. We require your cat to have a negative FELV blood test before the vaccine is given, which we can do here on the day of surgery, and you will need to follow up with your daytime veterinarian for the booster vaccine in 3-4 weeks. If your cat is older and has already been vaccinated for FELV, we can give a yearly booster vaccine (without testing) if you supply proof of vaccination each year from your veterinarian. Please note this vaccination is not considered 100% effective, but aside from keeping your cat completely indoors, it is the best way to help prevent the disease.
Although these are the two additional vaccinations we carry here, there are many other vaccinations available for cats and dogs, all of them considered “noncore” at this time. Please see your daytime veterinarian for more information on Lyme disease vaccination, Canine Influenza vaccination, Leptospirosis vaccination, FIV (Feline AIDS) vaccination, and others.
What is a fecal?
Most other worms (parasites) that we see in pets are found in the intestines, and are diagnosed by a fecal exam (stool check). Hookworms and roundworms are common puppy worms. Whipworms, giardia, and coccidia can cause bloody diarrhea. Tapeworms can be from fleas as well as other sources, and can cause anal itchiness and scooting. Keep in mind that a fecal exam may miss some worms or worm eggs that may not be present in that particular sample. Tapeworms are particularly hard to find unless they are seen moving in the stool. It is a good idea to have your daytime veterinarian check your pet’s stool once or twice a year for parasites. We can perform a fecal exam on your pet on the day of surgery, and if necessary, administer the appropriate dewormer.