Tell-Me-About: Spaying and Neutering

by | Nov 8, 2018 | Blog

(From Country Friends Veterinary Clinic’s new Tell-Me-About blog series)

In this new Tell-Me-About blog series Country Friends Veterinary Clinic will be exploring various topics that are discussed in the care of small animals, specifically cats and dogs.

Spay and Neuter: A Little History

In my younger years, I remember spending time with my grandparent’s poodle. Cherie was not spayed and spent time outside- which eventually led to a pregnancy. Our family decided to give one of her little puppies a home and named her Ginger for her beautiful coat color. This way of homing puppies and kittens has been common throughout the years because it used to be very uncommon to intentionally surgically remove reproductive organs. Thank you Dogtime ˡ for the information below:

  • In the late 60’s and early 70’s shelters began taking in the unwanted, lost, and abandoned and with the limited resources available to them the statistics were outrageous: 100 animals were being euthanized per 1000 people; there just weren’t enough shelters for the demand.
  • Animal advocates worked to create education and awareness and in 1969 the first low-cost spay and neuter clinic opened.
  • In 1972 the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) mandated that all adopted animals be sterilized.
  • Because of the efforts of many, the number of euthanized animals has decreased to 12.5 per 1000 people.
  • Country Friends Veterinary Clinic values life and the contribution that we all have the potential to give to better our homes and community. Our company vision, “A Passion for Pets and People” is behind every decision we make! Country Friends semi-annually offers a discount on spay and neuter procedures along with the associated medicines. We also work with Royse City Paws and Royse City Animal Shelter and Adoption Center to support low-cost clinics at other times throughout each year.

Why Should I…?
This is truly a good question to ask! To answer this question we asked Dr. Rhonda Phillips, a seasoned veterinarian, why she recommends spaying and neutering. Her response, “Consider the following:

  • Choosing to spay or neuter potentially increases the long-term health of an animal. This includes a decreased risk of mammary tumors (breast cancer) in female dogs as well as decreased prostate and perineal hernia disease in male dogs.
  • Decreased behavioral issues
  • Decreased unwanted pregnancies

Let’s look into the first recommendation and benefit a little further- the health of the animal. Country Friends Veterinary Clinic veterinarians agree with this statement for two reasons- first it is their experience and secondly, it is in the science. According to pets.webmd ² (who references ASPCA) there are numerous health benefits with statistics that are eye-opening:

Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life:

  • Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats.
  • Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.

Neutering provides major health benefits for your male:

  • Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer.

Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat.

  • Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds-not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.

Would you decide to spay or neuter based on the health benefits alone? If not, let’s look into behavioral issues:

Your spayed female won’t go into heat:

  • While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently-sometimes all over the house!

 Your male dog won’t want to roam away from home.

  • An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.

 Your neutered male will be much better behaved.

  • Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.

Addressing Dr. Rhonda’s final point, a decrease in unwanted pregnancies:

Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community.

  • Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering pack a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.

 Spaying and neutering help fight pet overpopulation.

  • Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays.

The final answer to your question, why should I? … is in the money. Health care is expensive for both humans and pets, more so when a pet is injured or sick vs. preventative health measures. Consider this:

It is highly cost-effective:

  • The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter
  • It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray
  • These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering

 Are there any risks?
Yes, there are two main risks. Being under anesthesia always has an associated risk. Your veterinarian will want to do a health assessment to be comfortable placing your pet under anesthesia. So why use anesthesia? Your pet will be under less stress and pain. Our process is a simple one under an expert’s watchful eye and skilled hand:

  • Your pet will receive constant monitoring by both medical equipment and people
  • Your pet will then be given the necessary pre-anesthetic medicine and prepping
  • An endotracheal tube will be placed to protect the airway of your pet
  • Your pet is sedated with gas anesthetics as opposed to injected anesthetics
  • The surgery takes place
  • You will receive a phone call so that you know how your pet is doing
  • Your pet will be given an injectable pain medication, a warm place to wake up, and will have constant monitoring
  • Your pet will be fitted with a plastic cone and maybe a shirt
  • You can pick up your pet later that same day!

The second risk is found in more recent research with larger dogs and degenerative joint disease or hip dysplasia. The recommendation is to spay/neuter following sexual maturity, usually at or around 9 months of age.

How is a full-service clinic experience different than a low-cost clinic?

So many good questions! Both full-service and low-cost have the same end result and that is important to remember. Sometimes cost is the only deciding factor and we definitely understand that which is why we support our local shelter and adoption center here in Royse City, however, we must keep in mind that it is the cost that determines the difference in the overall experience. Dr. Andy Roark ³ outlines the following differences for us:

Low-cost clinics do not typically require or offer bloodwork before surgery

  • One reason for this is because most young animals do not have any underlying metabolic issues. But there are always exceptions.

Low-cost clinics do not usually place an IV catheter or give intravenous fluids

  • One of the reasons for this is that most high-volume spay/neuter veterinarians are able to perform surgery in a fraction of the time of many others (often less than 5-10 minutes), simply due to experience. But why might an IV catheter and fluids be important? Fluids provide assistance with blood pressure stability and perfusion to organs.

Low-cost clinics have limited staffing and cannot provide constant attention

  • There are often only one or two veterinary technicians or assistants on staff during a typical surgery day, and they are commonly multi-tasking. The most consistent time we see complications or accidental death is right after surgery, in recovery—this is true for any hospital or clinic.

Low-cost clinics do not routinely monitor CO2 levels, ECG, blood pressure and constant body temperature

  • A pulse-oximeter is usually the only monitoring device present, revealing heart rate and oxygen perfusion in the blood, which are important. But other vital signs can be important too. Hypothermia can make recovery long and difficult, ECG readings help determine any heart abnormalities, abnormal CO2 levels can be deadly, and I’ve already explained what low blood pressure can do.

Low-cost clinics do not provide a full, comprehensive physical exam and vet consultation

  • Exams are limited due to the number of surgeries that must be performed in a day. You do not have an opportunity to discuss your pet’s health and concerns with a vet before the surgery is performed.

Low-cost clinics are not the best option for higher-risk pets: large and giant breed dogs, senior pets, brachycephalic breeds (those with flat/smashed faces), obese, in-heat, pregnant and aggressive dogs and cats, those with a history of medical issues, etc.

  • Low-cost clinics are not typically set up to handle emergencies if they arise or hospitalize animals overnight for additional care if necessary. They lack the proper equipment, training, staffing and time to handle anything outside of a normal, healthy patient surgery and recovery. If your hospital is set up for this, your cost will go up.

In the end, deciding to spay or neuter is a personal decision that may have a positive or negative impact in the lives of your family and the community. It is our hope that you will consider scheduling an exam to talk about your best options with your veterinarian!

Wishing you the best!

Rhonda Hampton
Hospital Manager
“A Passion for Pets and People”
Country Friends Veterinary Clinic