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Spay & Neuter - For the Health of It

Spay & neuter - for the health of it

Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats).
— ASPCA

It is difficult for us here in Seattle to see that a lack of spaying and neutering can be a problem in many places, but unfortunately, it is.  Each year, approximately 1.5 million animals (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats) are euthanized in the United States alone, according to the ASPCA, due to overpopulation and homelessness.  

The Facts

This single statistic makes it very clear that spaying and neutering is an important step for the pets that are lucky enough to have loving homes.  Realizing this, the first question most pet owners ask is usually, “When should I spay or neuter my pet?”.  The answer? It varies.  The best thing to do is to ask your veterinarian what they recommend. 

When should I spay or neuter my pet?

Most cats (both female and male) are altered between 6-8 months of age.  Shelters and spay-neuter clinics will often alter kittens as soon as they weigh two pounds.  Most dogs (both female and male) are altered between 6-12 months of age.  New research suggests that altering large, giant-sized, and performance dogs at a later date, such as shortly after their first heat cycle, may help prevent conditions such as elbow and hip dysplasia, CCL rupture, and osteosarcoma.

In addition to helping reduce the high number of surrendered and abandoned animals, spaying and neutering your pet has significant medical and behavioral benefits.

 Medical Benefits:

Females - Helps prevent mammary tumors, avoids pyometra, and eliminates the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.

Males - Helps prevent testicular cancer and decreases risk of prostate disease.

 Behavioral Benefits:

Females - Able to go to doggy daycare, will not be vocal during heat cycle, and won't wander from home looking for a mate.

Males – Able to go to doggy daycare, reduces drive to mark/urinate around the house, less likely to roam the neighborhood looking for a mate, and can diminish or even eliminate some aggression issues.

 

Spay and Neuter Clinics

A spay and neuter mission to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico with Vet Techs Without Borders.

A spay and neuter mission to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico with Vet Techs Without Borders.

At my first job in the veterinary industry, I was an assistant at a spay and neuter clinic, also called an SNC, and I loved it.  I still admire how these types of clinics mainly exist to help low-income families get their pets altered and I greatly respect all the amazing volunteers that bring in stray cats to be altered on a regular basis. These types of clinics will offer a discounted price to alter one’s pet.  The typical requirement for a pet to undergo a spay or neuter at one of these low-cost clinics is that the pet is in good health, or that the “trap and release animal”, or stray, has no obvious medical conditions.  This is because an SNC will not do pre-operative bloodwork, they will not do exams, they will not have one-on-one care with the pet, can only send home a very basic pain medication, and the majority of the time will not offer post-operative care.  They are not a full-care facility. Their main focus is to reduce the pet overpopulation and they do so with limited funding and a lot of selfless volunteerism. 

Full-Service Clinics

Star the Chinook Sled Dog gets to know Dr. Wolf during her puppy exam.

Star the Chinook Sled Dog gets to know Dr. Wolf during her puppy exam.

Here at Lien Animal Clinic, a spay or neuter procedure is a very different story.  We are a full-care facility, meaning we go above and beyond what an SNC is able to do.  We provide excellent care for your family’s pets from start to finish, treating them as if they were our own.  To do this, we always perform exams on pets before surgery to ensure we know the patient and their needs well enough before proceeding with any surgical event.  During this exam, our doctor will make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and is healthy enough to plan a spay or neuter.  Based on your individual pet’s needs, the doctor will suggest an age at which your pet should undergo the surgery.  Our receptionists will help you schedule the surgery in advance, based on the doctor’s report.  Another way we differ from a low-cost clinic is that we always highly recommend pre-operative bloodwork before every anesthetic procedure.  This bloodwork shows our doctors valuable information about how your pet’s body is functioning so that they can dial in the very best use of anesthesia and medications for them.  We also take the extra step to ensure your pet is comfortable and familiar with us by having one-on-one time with them.  They are talked to, petted, dogs are taken out for bathroom breaks when needed, and cats are cuddled and played with if their temperament permits it.  We know it’s a big day for them and for their owners as well, so we do our best to make pets feel at home.

The Procedure

Now that you know more about the benefits, you may be wondering what the actual spay or neuter procedure day looks like at Lien.

Lino enjoying some cuddles before going into surgery.

Lino enjoying some cuddles before going into surgery.

Here is the basic outline of the day your pet will have with us   :        

o   Pet arrives fasted, unless told differently by a doctor. This means they’ve had no food, starting 12 hours before their admission appointment. Water is still fine to give to your pet during this time. 

o   Some animals will be asked to be given a sedative like Trazodone before their arrival. 

o   Pet gets a pre-operative examination by a doctor. 

o   Pet has sample taken for a pre-operative blood panel, unless bloodwork has been done recently. 

o   Pet receives an anti-nausea injection. 

o   Pet is given a pre-anesthetic injection to help them fall asleep before their procedure. 

o   Pet will have a microchip implanted, toenails trimmed, and any other hygienic task the owner would like.  These are options the owner selects on their pet’s admission paperwork. 

o   Pet has an IV catheter placed by a licensed technician. 

o   Pet is induced into gas anesthesia under the supervision of a technician and veterinarian. 

o   Licensed technician sets up fluids to keep the pet hydrated, as well as monitors the pet’s vitals before, during, and after surgery. 

o   Doctor performs they spay or neuter. 

o   Clinic staff calls owner to schedule a discharge appointment for later in the day. 

o   Pet rests comfortably for 2-3 hours for post-operative observation.  

o   During discharge appointment, a technician goes over discharge instructions including home care, medication directions (typically anti-pain and/or anti-inflammatory), and recovery time.  

o   Pet goes home with e-collar, also known as a cone, to help prevent them from worrying at their incision.  

The Recovery

IV catheters (shown with pressure wrap on arm) are used to help hydrate patients during surgery. Cones are a vital part of patient recovery.

IV catheters (shown with pressure wrap on arm) are used to help hydrate patients during surgery. Cones are a vital part of patient recovery.

The recovery process is different for each pet, or patient. Most patients will make a full recovery after two weeks while other animals may take longer.  One of the most important things to do is to make sure your pet wears their e-collar. While two weeks with your pet wearing a cone may be hard to imagine, and your pet may not be in love with the idea, it is necessary to avoid any self-inflicted problems such as tearing sutures out, causing an infection at the incision site with their mouths, or causing themselves pain by nibbling at their tender skin.   

During recovery, you also need to prevent your pet from doing any running, jumping, or high-energy stunts for two weeks.  Please be sure to give your pet their pain medications as directed by the doctor and check their incision daily for things like swelling and discharge. 

 

By having your pet spayed or neutered, you will be setting them up for a healthier, longer life, while also helping to reduce pet overpopulation in your area. 

If you have any questions, or would like to set up an exam for your pet,
please give us a call or schedule an appointment online!

For more information regarding our surgeries,
check out one of our past blog articles: Understanding Surgery Day

This blog was written by Cheyanne Flores-Castellano.

Cheyanne - GSD German Shepherd - LVT Vet Tech - Clinic - Animal Hospital.jpg

Cheyanne Flores-Castellanos graduated in 2016 from Pima Medical Institute in Chula Vista, California where she became a licensed veterinary technician. She first began working in the veterinary field in 2014 at a low cost spay and neuter clinic in San Diego while she attended school. After graduating from Pima, she went on to lend a hand to Vet Techs without Borders in Mexico where she assisted with more spaying and neutering in small communities throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. She enjoyed helping the organization so much that she went on two separate trips to further their cause.

Having grown up as an Army brat, Cheyanne has lived in New York, Georgia, California, and Washington. In the summer of 2016 she decided to make the move from California back to Washington and joined Lien Animal Clinic in December that same year as an LVT. Her favorite part about working with animals is witnessing their unconditional love.

In her free time she enjoys going on hikes with her husband and their two German Shepherds named Kaiser and Nessie, hanging out with family, snuggling with her Siamese mix cat named Gisele, and watching movies.