When to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Each Spring, shelters and rescues across the country see a dramatic increase in the number of dogs and cats needing loving homes. It is what is known as Kitten Season or Puppy Season. As pet owners, we want to see all of these sweet canines and felines get adopted but taking another pet in might not be an option for your family. So, what can you do? The answer is simple – spay and neuter your pets.

Simply having your pet spayed or neutered can help to reduce the number of unwanted animals that end up on the street or in shelters. In addition, pets that are spayed or neutered often live longer, have better behavior, and, in the long run, it can save you money. Call St. Paul Pet Hospital today at (651) 789-6275 to schedule your pet’s procedure.

Why Should I Have My Pet Spayed or Neutered?

spay and neuter in st. paul, mnMany pet owners do not see the need for having their dog or cat spayed or neutered, fearing that it could negatively impact their pet’s quality of life. But that could not be further from the truth. In fact, as many experts will tell you, there are a lot of benefits to having your pet fixed. Some of the pros of spaying and neutering include:

  • OVERALL HEALTH. Having your pet spayed or neutered may be the key to your cat or dog living a longer, happier, healthier life. A study at the University of Georgia found that increased the lifespan of male dogs by 13.8%, and female dogs by 26.3%.
  • DISEASE/CANCER RISK DECREASES. A spay or neuter may also lengthen your pet’s lifespan, because it decreases the risk for certain types of cancers – in females, mammary and uterine issues, and in males, prostate or testicular diseases.
  • CYCLES ELIMINATED. If you have ever owned a cat, you know that a heat cycle can be a frustrating time for you. Often, a female cat will yowl and urinate more frequently trying to attract a male. Spaying your cat, or dog, will prevent this from happening.
  • PETS STAY CLOSE TO HOME. Male dogs are known for figuring ways to escape, especially when they are searching for a female. Neutering can help keep your dog closer to home. Dogs may roam searching for a mate, but neutering decreases that drive. It is also less likely that your dog will get into fights with other animals or be injured in an accident if you can keep a close eye on them.
  • PROTECT YOUR BANK ACCOUNT. As you know, taking care of a litter of puppies or kittens can also be expensive. Having your pets spayed or neutered can prevent unwanted litters and save you money.

When Should I Have My Pet Spayed or Neutered?

As common as it is, a spay or neuter surgery is a major procedure for your pet. Because of this, many pet parents may have some hesitation about taking their pets to a veterinarian to have it performed. Experts, however, say the risks of any complications from a spay or neuter surgery is low. So, how do you know when your pet is ready for a surgery?
There are specific age ranges experts recommend, and they do differ between dogs and cats. However, the first thing you should do is talk to your veterinarian. It will make it easier to get through the process for you and your pet. Plus, you will also need to take into account your dog’s age, breed, and overall health.

Dogs: Typically, veterinarians recommend dogs be spayed or neutered between six and nine months old. However, some dogs, based on breed size, may need to be spayed or neutered at younger or older ages. Smaller breeds may be ready for the procedure as early as five months, while larger-sized dogs may need more time to grow before going through a spay or neuter surgery. If you have adopted from a shelter, you know that sometimes dogs are altered in adulthood, but that does slightly elevate the risk of problems after the procedure.

Cats: Kittens are able to go through surgery much younger. Female cats can reach their first heat cycle as young as four months old, though this is somewhat rare. Most female cats will not enter heat until they are five or six months. Sterilizing your cat early will help to prevent any unwanted pregnancies and discourages spaying/marking your home in male cats.

One of the things many pet owners hear is that female pets need to go through at least one pregnancy before they are altered, but it may NOT be in your dog’s or cat’s best interest to hold off. Check with your veterinarian to ensure that you and your pet are getting the best care possible.

What Happens During the Procedure?

While it is common to worry about our pets when they go into a major procedure, know that your veterinarian and their staff are doing everything they can to make sure you pet is comfortable during their surgery. So, what exactly happens during a spay or neuter procedure?

  • Ovariohysterectomy, or the typical “spay”: the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus are removed from a female dog or cat. This makes her unable to reproduce and eliminates her heat cycle and breeding instinct-related behavior.
  • Orchiectomy, or the typical “neuter”: the testes are removed from a male dog or cat. This makes him unable to reproduce and reduces or eliminates male breeding behaviors.

Your pet should not feel a thing. During the procedure, your dog or cat will be under general anesthesia. This allows your pet’s surgical team to closely monitor their vital signs through the entire surgery. Often, your dog or cat will be placed on a heated blanket or heating pad during the surgery, or immediately after, to make sure they are comfortable and as pain free as possible.

Following the surgery, your pet is going to need a lot of rest to heal. However, once they have fully recovered, they should be ready to run, play, and live their best life with you again. If you still have questions about spay and neuter surgeries, call St. Paul Pet Hospital at (651) 789-6275.