Spaying and neutering your animals is one of the most loving things you can do, and it’s also a service to your community. For your pet, you’re paving the way for a longer, healthier life. For the community, spaying is a step to curbing the staggering overpopulation of homeless and unwanted pets. The American Humane Association reports that U.S. shelters euthanize about 3.7 million animals every year because there are not enough people to adopt them. Spaying and neutering helps reduce the risk of unwanted animal pregnancies and keeps you from having to decide what to do with the offspring of your cat or dog’s new litter. We at Lakeview Animal Hospital encourage everyone to spay and neuter their pets.

What is Neutering?

Neutering is the term used for the removal of a male pet’s testes so that he cannot impregnate a female. Removing the reproductive organs reduces or stops breeding behaviors.

A report from USA Today found that pets in states with the highest neutering rates have longer life spans. According to the ASPCA, neutering may help prevent testicular cancer and prostate problems with some pets. One concern among pet owners is that neutered pets are at greater risk of obesity and laziness, but moderate feeding and consistent exercise can help keep your dog or cat active and at the proper weight.

What is Spaying?

A spay is the surgical removal of a female pet’s entire reproductive tract, including ovaries and uterus and is performed under anesthesia. Pets should be spayed as soon as possible, even as early as 8 weeks of age. It’s recommended for dogs to be spayed before their first heat, which usually occurs around 6 months.

Spaying your cat or dog has many health benefits. It protects them from ovarian and uterine cancer, both of which can be deadly. There is also less chance of developing breast cancer and mammary gland tumors. For unspayed dogs, there is a good chance of developing a serious and sometimes life-threatening uterine infection called pyometra where the uterus fills with pus, possibly leading to septic peritonitis. You also won’t have to deal with the mess and hassle of your dog’s heat cycles, which also attract the attention of unwanted males. Finally, it’s proven that spayed dogs live 1 to 3 years longer, and cats, 3 to 5 years.

What Happens During a Spay or Neuter Surgery?

Once you leave your animal in our trusted and caring hands, we’ll prepare them for the surgery. This may include a full blood chemistry panel to ensure there are no unforeseen issues. They will be given a full physical exam and their vital signs will be noted. Next, anesthesia will be administered and the procedure will be performed. If we run into anything unforeseen, our surgical suite is equipped with the most modern technology and equipment, and our surgeons are the most experienced in Edmonton.

What are the risks?

It is thought that about 1 in 100,000 animals have a reaction to anesthesia. Reactions can be as minor as a bit of mild swelling at the injection site, to a life-threatening situation of anaphylactic shock. If your pet has a medical condition (for example heart, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, anemia, dehydration, or an infection like heartworm disease), there is an elevated risk of complications from anesthesia. But for a healthy pet, it’s actually less risk than your pet faces riding in the car to and from the vet’s office.

If a pet isn’t fasted properly prior to anesthesia, they can encounter problems like vomiting either during or shortly after being anesthetized. This can result in aspiration pneumonia, which is a very serious condition. Other complications from anesthesia, though rare, include blood clotting disorders, problems with eyesight, seizures, and kidney, liver or heart failure.

As always, the staff at Lakeview Animal Hospital will ensure that you are properly informed of these risks. At Lakeview Animal Hospital, we take care in mitigating these risks as much as possible by monitoring heart rate and rhythm, respiration rate and quality, blood pressure, oxygenation, and depth of anesthesia while your pet is in our care.