Spaying or neutering your pet is highly recommended, to reduce their risk for developing several serious medical conditions, improve their behavior, and decrease unwanted pet pregnancies. You likely want to know more about what these procedures involve. Our team at Towne Centre Animal Hospital answers some frequently asked questions about spaying and neutering, to help alleviate your concerns.

Question: What happens during a pet spay?

Answer: Spay is the layman’s term for ovariohysterectomy, a sterilization procedure performed on female pets under general anesthesia. Pets are initially medicated, to make them sleepy, and to control any pain before anesthesia is induced. Once under anesthesia and intubated, their heart rate and oxygen levels are closely monitored. During surgery, pets are kept on a heating blanket, to ensure their temperature does not drop too low. A veterinary professional makes an incision below the pet’s umbilicus into their abdomen and removes the uterus and ovaries. They then close the incision in two layers under the skin, using absorbable suture material, and the skin is closed using skin glue, staples, or stitches.

Q: What happens during a pet neuter?

A: Neuter is the layman’s term for orchiectomy, a sterilization procedure performed on male pets. The procedure differs for dogs and cats.

  • Dogs Male dogs are placed under general anesthesia and intubated, their heart rate and oxygen levels are closely monitored, and they are kept on a heating blanket. A veterinary professional makes an incision in the skin at the base of the pet’s penis, closest to the scrotum, and removes their testicles. They close the incision under the skin with dissolvable stitches, and close the skin using skin glue, staples, or stitches. 
  • Cats — A cat neuter is a quick procedure. The veterinarian makes an incision in the scrotum, and removes the testicles. The incision is not closed, and heals well on its own.

Q: How long will my pet be in surgery?

A: Many factors, including your pet’s age, sex, size, and whether they are in heat, contribute to the length of your pet’s surgery. 

  • Male dogs — Depending on their age and their size, the neuter can take 5 to 20 minutes.
  • Male cats — Neutering a male cat is an extremely quick procedure, and typically takes two minutes or less.
  • Female dogs — Depending on their age, size, and the time of their heat cycle, a dog spay usually takes approximately 20 to 90 minutes.
  • Female cats — Depending on their age and the time of their heat cycle, a cat spay usually takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Female pets who are in heat take longer to spay, because their reproductive tracts are more fragile and vascular during this time. 

Q: At what age should my pet be spayed or neutered?

A: While pets as young as 8 weeks can be spayed or neutered safely, as long as they are healthy, veterinarians recommend some pets wait until they are older. 

  • Cats — The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends spaying and neutering cats before 5 months of age. 
  • Small-breed dogs — Dogs whose predicted adult weight is less than 45 pounds should be neutered at 6 months of age, or spayed prior to their first heat cycle, which typically occurs around 5 to 6 months of age.
  • Large-breed dogs — Dogs whose predicted adult weight is more than 45 pounds should be neutered after growth stops, usually between 9 and 15 months of age, depending on their breed. Large-breed female dogs should be spayed between 5 to 15 months of age, depending on their breed, disease risk, and lifestyle. Our veterinary professionals can help you decide the best time to spay or neuter your large-breed pet.

Older pets can also be spayed or neutered, but they may have an increased complication risk.

Q: What are the benefits of spaying or neutering my pet?

A: Spaying or neutering your pet can benefit you, your pet, and your community.

  • Health benefits — Spaying female pets before their first heat cycle prevents uterine infections, and decreases their mammary cancer risk. Neutering male pets prevents testicular cancer, and decreases their prostate disease risk.
  • Behavioral benefits — Spaying your female pet will prevent them from going into heat, which often causes pets to vocalize and urinate more frequently. Female dogs in heat also usually have a messy, bloody vaginal discharge. Neutering your male pet will decrease their need to roam to find a mate. They are less likely to urine-mark their territory, and be aggressive toward other male pets. 
  • Community benefits — Spaying or neutering your pet helps prevent unwanted pet pregnancies, reducing the number of stray pets in your community.

Most pets easily recover from their spay or neuter with no complications, and the procedures offer many benefits. If you would like your pet spayed or neutered, contact our team at Towne Centre Animal Hospital, so we can perform the surgery at the best time for your pet.