The Spay and Neuter

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jeshykai's picture
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So with all our recent neuters and spays (and nervous parents!) I thought I'd write a little something on what each procedure is.  Some vets may or may not go into such detail with you and may also have different policies and procedures, but in general this has been consistent with the four hospitals I've worked at.

A spay usually occurs at 6 months of age, though some vets now do it earlier.  The dog the night before shouldn't eat because anesthesia can make them want to vomit and you don't want them to vomit while intubated.  Usually you are asked to drop your dog off in the morning before the procedure and this is so the pre-anthesthic drugs can take affect and the dog can be calm in the kennel and adjust to the sights and smells.  Once the time comes for surgery, a nurse will generally administer the anthesthetic drugs and the dog will be intubated and put on an inhalant anthesthia and oxygen.  Most quality hospitals do extensive monitoring - EKG, PulseOx, Temp, etc.  I like the vets that use convection air - or warmers - to maintain an elevated temp as it's easier on the body.  Once under, the dog is then prepped for surgery.  Their stomach is shaved and cleansed with special cleanser to remove dirt and kill bacteria.  Once they are ready, they're moved into surgery and the doctor begins the procedure.  It generally doesn't take very long - maybe 45 minutes - to do a spay.  The entire uterus is removed because it removes the risk of pyometra's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyometra) and cancer.  Since it is an abdominal surgery, the dog should be kept on limited activity for a week or more.  Generally, you can do a light walk around day 4 or 5.  No excessive running, jumping, or hard play as this can cause the surgery site to become inflammed, painful, and also may pull on the internal sutures and external sutures. 

A neuter is similiar in the induction of anthesthia, but the procedure itself is far easier.  The testes are the only thing removed, and if the dog has two and it is not a crypt (where one is up in the abdomnial cavity) they are removed quickly, tied off, and the testicle sack is generally lightly stitched or glued depending on the size of the dog.  They don't require as limited exercise, though it's good to not allow heavy play, jumping or running for the first week while healing is new. 

The most important thing about both procedures is to make sure the dog doesn't lick/chew/itch at the surgery site.  Sometimes the soaps and cleansers that are used irritate the skin and they feel itchy for the first few days, also any pain may also want them to lick and fuss with the site.  If they manage to remove sutures it's often times another anthesthic procedure to replace them.  The cones are your best friend when you aren't home or able to watch them 100% of the time.

Hopefully this wasn't too boring, but I know I feel better about many procedures my animals have to go through because I have witnessed them first hand and know that it isn't that scary of a procedure.

Joined: 2011-06-21

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Thank you! Personally, I don't think the surgery is such a big deal, but maybe that's because I'm female...

This post is very helpful if you want to know just what happens during surgery. 

bbroyles's picture
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Joined: 2010-09-09

Thanks, Jess!

Lady Kate's picture
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Thanks Jess.. This is a wonderful description and helpful to a lot of folks..

the only scary part is the anesthesia... Some dogs do not tolerate it as well as others and sometimes, the vet does not know this til it's too late.

It's always  wise to sit down with your your vet and ask as many quetions before any procedure so you are comfortable with knowledge and expertise.

blue4's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-28

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You're a great girl to have around Jes.  Thanks for always taking time...

newtodogs's picture
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I want to add, that is important no to do neuter too early, becasue it messese up hormons, and growth hormon continues to produce. Have you seen dogs with overly longs legs? It's result of too early neuter.

I am not sure about the age of the girls, btu I know for boy he has to be lifting his leg to pee consistently, and once he does that it's a good time to do the surgery.

Patriot's picture
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Not boring at all.Thanks for taking the time to type it out.It is also true that males are less likely to get cancer,is it only testicular cancer?Or are there other forms they are less likely to get also?

jeshykai's picture
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You are referring to a pediatric neuter or spay and I agree too early isn't healthy. This gained popularity with shelters to place the young faster. However the "lift of the leg" is not a proper way to view when to neuter your dog. To be honest, six months is a perfect time. With males you can go longer, if you choose, but be aware some behaviors you may not like will develop - smelling/licking urine, obsessive lifting of the leg etc. Females run the risk of heats, cancers, uterine infections. The "lanky leg" is more that when the production sites for hormones like testosterone and estrogen are removed young some of the growth - of the penis, some facial features, may be stunted.

Patriot - mostly males don't have as many risks to face, medically, than the females. I am mostly aware of neutering preventing testicular and prostrate cancer.

In cats if you neuter too young, you run the risk of having too small of a ureter and they have risks of blockages from stones and crystals (which untreated will kill).

Chipindob's picture
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Great job Jess!! xoxo, Soph & Ang

Lance and Lola's picture
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Lance will be neutered tomorrow.  He is only four months.  Is this too soon?  We have his sister also and don't want to run the risk of "friskiness" with her and/or lifting leg in house, etc.  He does not lift his leg yet outside.  He has "sprayed" a few times inside, but I don't think he knew what he was doing.

jeshykai's picture
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You control where they are allowed to go, be it to mark or pee. And a neutered dog may still mark, keep in mind. All my males mark outside where it's allowed. Mine never mark in my house or any others.

I personally think four months is too soon, I understand your concerns but it is unlikely waiting to five or six months will be an issue. It's just more time to grow. Are you going to spay his sister too?

Hormone urges don't typically start until later, my Steve never even knew what humping was and I neutered him at one year (wasn't sure if I was going to breed him). Humping is also a dominant act. You can discourage it, but some dogs male or female may do it.

You can of course call your vet and discuss it. I know in the last few years vets don't discourage younger spays and neuters. It's good and acceptable to ask questions! Dont hesitate.

Lance and Lola's picture
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Yes, she'll be spayed too.  My vet recommend between 4 and 6 months for him.  5 and 6 months for her.  Said he should go first.  I don't want her to have a heat and I don't want them to both have surgery at the same time. 

laith's picture
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Joined: 2010-11-30

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You can always discourage bad behavior. Lifting the leg, humping, etc. Laith won't do it around me, but when he goes to doggie daycare- I do hear stories. :)