Spaying & Neutering FAQ?s:
What happens during a spay (ovariohysterectomy) procedure?
Spaying or an ovariohysterectomy is the process of removing both the ovaries and the uterus. In order to do this, an incision needs to be made in your pet?s abdomen, and therefore anesthesia is required. Please see http://www.pvahosp.com/site/view/51753_SurgicalFAQs.pml for more information on surgical procedures and anesthesia.
The incision is made using a surgical laser. Please visit http://www.pvahosp.com/site/view/122467_LaserSurgery.pml or http://www.lumenis.com/wt/home/home/?flash=true for more information about the laser.
What happens during the neutering (castration) procedure?
Your pet will receive anesthesia in order to have this procedure done. A small incision is made and the testicles are removed. As above, the incision is made with a surgical laser.
Why does my pet need to stay there for the majority of the day?
When your pet is dropped off in the morning, we run pre-anesthetic blood work and do a pre-surgical examination. These are done to insure that your pet is healthy enough for the procedure.
The pre-anesthetic blood work includes:
Packed cell volume (PCV) - Checks for anemia and helps to evaluate hydration status. If anemia is present (low PCV), the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood is decreased and this can lead to anesthetic complications.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) ? BUN is produced as a waste product by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Abnormally high levels of BUN can indicate kidney disease or dehydration, and low levels can be associated with liver disease.
Blood Glucose (BG or GLU) - High levels can indicate diabetes. Low levels can indicate liver disease, infection, or certain tumors.
Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) ? ALP is an enzyme present in multiple tissues, including liver and bone. Elevated levels can indicate liver disease, cushings syndrome, or steroid therapy.
Total Protein (TP) ? The level of TP can indicate a variety of conditions, including dehydration, inflammation and disease of the liver, kidney, or intestine. If hydration is inadequate then there will be low blood pressure during anesthesia which can cause anesthetic complications.
Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) ? This is an enzyme that becomes elevated with liver cell injury.
Creatinine (CREA) ? CREA is a by-product of muscle metabolism and is excreted by the kidneys. Elevated levels can indicate kidney disease, urinary tract obstruction, or dehydration.
Will the surgery change my pet?s personality?
A male dog who remains intact experiences a huge increase in testosterone in adolescence. At several months of age, the male's testosterone level can be several times that of an adult male! This gives a real jump start to hormone-related behaviors, including urine marking in your house, aggression toward other male dogs, territorial aggression, and escape-oriented behavior in order to roam. Some male dogs, especially tiny terriers and hounds, may be impossible to housetrain if you wait too long to neuter them. Intact male dogs tend to have more difficulty concentrating on tasks and tend to show erratic behavior in the vicinity of a female dog in heat. Intact males may not be able to eat or sleep when a female dog in heat is in the same house! Jumping fences to go after a female down the street is common, even in dogs who have never roamed before. If you want to take your dog out and about, whether for family outings, runs at the dog park, or pursuit of dog sports such as agility, the dog will function better if neutered. Dogs are much more the victims of their own instincts than humans, less able to override impulses.
Female dogs, like males, have an increased risk of aggression if left intact. Estrus can cause moodiness, and hormone changes in pregnancy can make some females downright aggressive. Her attitude can change overnight. With estrus, intact female dogs may show erratic behavior, signs of pain that may be similar to cramping in humans, and a greatly increased propensity to get out of the house or fenced yard. Some dogs stay clean, while others may leave stains around the house. You won't be able to leave her outdoors unsupervised for even a second because the scent of her urine (she will urinate quite frequently) attracts males from a mile or so away. When a female dog is in heat, both she and the intact males in her vicinity will show changes of behavior. Many people spay their female dogs after one cycle, because it's so much more difficult than they expected it to be. Many more spay their females after one litter because it's not only more work and more heartbreak than they expected, but it's also much more expensive. Spaying the dog prior to ever getting pregnant can spare both her health and her temperament from sometimes dramatic deterioration. Occasionally, major medical problems can arise during the birthing process. In multiple animal households, spaying dogs before they are fully mature increases the chance of them living together in peace.
What are the risk factors if I do not have the spay/neuter done?
There are several health benefits to neutering. One of the most important concerns the prostate gland, which under the influence of testosterone will gradually enlarge over the course of the dog?s life. In age, it is likely to become uncomfortable, possibly being large enough to interfere with defecation. The prostate under the influence of testosterone is also predisposed to infection, which is almost impossible to clear up without neutering. Neutering causes the prostate to shrink into insignificance, thus preventing both prostatitis as well as the uncomfortable benign hyperplasia (enlargement) that occurs with aging. It is often erroneously held that neutering prevents prostate cancer but this is not true.
Other health benefits of neutering include the prevention of certain types of hernias and tumors of the testicles and anus. Excessive preputial discharge is also reduced by neutering.
Mammary Cancer Prevention:
A female dog spayed before her first heat will have a near zero chance of developing mammary cancer.
After the first heat, this incidence climbs to 7% and after the second heat the risk is 25% (one in four!). It is easy to see that an early spay can completely prevent what is frequently a very difficult and potentially fatal form of cancer.
Pyometra is the life-threatening infection of the uterus that generally occurs in middle-aged to older female dogs in the six weeks following heat. The hormone progesterone, which primes the uterus for potential pregnancy, does so by causing proliferation of the blood-filled uterine lining and suppressing uterine immune function. It is thus easy during heat for bacteria in the vagina to ascend to the uterus and cause infection. The uterus with pyometra swells dramatically and is filled with pus, bacteria, dying tissue, and toxins. Without treatment, the dog is expected to die. Despite her serious medical state, she must be spayed quickly if her life is to be saved.
- This is an extremely common disease of unspayed female dogs.
- Without treatment the dog will die.
- Treatment is expensive.
- Treatment involves surgery in a potentially unstable patient.
- Spaying prevents the whole thing.
The older unspayed female dog has an irregular heat cycle. There is no end of cycling comparable to human menopause. If you still decide against spaying, be familiar with the signs of pyometra, which include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, excessive thirst, marked vaginal discharge.
The female dog comes into heat every 8 months or so. There is a bloody vaginal discharge and local male dogs are attracted. Often there is an offensive odor. All of this disappears with spaying.
What should I expect after the procedure?
Some nausea may occur in the first couple of days after surgery and it would not be unusual for the dog to refuse food for a day or two after surgery.
A cough may persist for a couple of days as a result of the tracheal tube. This should not persist longer than a couple of days.
The scrotum is often swollen in the first few days after surgery, leading some people to wonder if the procedure was really performed. If the dog is immature at the time of neutering, the empty scrotum will flatten out as he grows. If he is mature at the time of neuter, the empty scrotum will remain as a flap of skin. Sometimes the incision is mildly bruised. Most male dogs are eager to play by the day after surgery but, to keep the incision intact, it is best to restrict the dog from boisterous activity for the first week.
Activity should be restricted during the week following surgery. Excessive activity can lead to swelling or fluid accumulation under the incision. If a fluid pocket does form, it should resolve on its own after a few weeks. If a fluid pocket forms and drains liquid from the incision, the dog should be re-checked with the veterinarian.