As a pet owner, you likely know that spaying or neutering your pet will help manage the pet overpopulation problem, but did you know the procedures can also provide numerous health and behavior benefits? Removing your pet’s hormonal urges and reproductive organs can keep your furry pal healthier and happier, and become a better family companion. Learn more about these important procedures, and the many benefits you and your pet will enjoy from spaying or neutering.

What happens during my pet’s spay?

During a spay, your female pet’s ovaries and uterus are removed. Because of the placement of these organs inside the abdomen, a spay is more invasive than a neuter, and the pet will have a shaved area and an incision on her abdomen. After the surgery, your pet must be kept calm for about two weeks to allow their internal tissues and the skin to heal. Exercise must be restricted, and your furry pal should not lick their incision, but recovery is often uneventful, provided your pet isn’t too active.

What happens during my pet’s neuter?

During a neuter, your male pet’s testicles are removed, as well as the scrotum, in some cases. In small or young pets, the scrotum is generally left, but pet owners may think their pet was not neutered. Large-breed dogs or older pets often have the scrotum removed to prevent a scrotal hematoma, which occurs when the scrotum fills with blood because the body is trying to fill the empty space. These hematomas typically form because the pet was too active during the recovery period. 

How does spaying my pet benefit their health?

Spaying your female pet before their first heat cycle provides the most health benefits, but a spay at a later date still offers numerous perks. One of the most significant health benefits your spayed pet will experience is the reduced risk of a mammary tumor. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, dogs who are spayed before their first heat cycle have a 0.5% chance of developing a mammary tumor, with the risk jumping to 8% after their first heat, and 26% after their second heat. Cats spayed before 6 months of age have a seven-times reduced risk of mammary cancer, and spaying at any age reduces a cat’s tumor risk by 40% to 60%.

In addition to reducing mammary cancer risk, spaying your pet eliminates their risk of birthing issues, which can require an emergency Caesarean section. Also, by removing the uterus, your pet cannot develop a pyometra, which is a uterine infection that can rapidly become life-threatening.

How does neutering my pet benefit his health?

Neutering your male pet at any age will prevent testicular cancer, although neutering earlier in life is recommended to prevent the development of other health and behavior issues. Most male pets are neutered once their growth has plateaued, allowing them to take advantage of hormones for development, but before the hormones cause problems. Neutering your pet will also reduce their risk for prostate diseases, like abscesses and cancer.

How does spaying or neutering my pet make them a better companion?

Naughty, obnoxious, and sometimes aggressive behaviors can develop in intact pets, and spaying and neutering will help reduce these behaviors, or eliminate them when paired with proper training. Some of the more common behaviors you’ll notice in intact pets include:

  • Making noise — Female cats yowl and urinate more frequently—and sometimes inappropriately—to attract a mate during their heat, which can last for four or five days every three weeks during breeding season.
  • Roaming around — Male dogs are prone to roaming the neighborhood seeking a female in heat, and have been known to escape from backyards and houses. 
  • Using aggression — Male cats and dogs can become highly aggressive toward other animals around a female in heat. Dogs or cats will fight other contenders to claim the privilege of mating with a female, and the wounds can be serious and require extensive treatment. Worse, male pets can become so focused on finding a mate, they dart through traffic and get struck by a car.
  • Marking — Unneutered dogs and cats are more likely to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house.
  • Making a mess — Female dogs generally have some discharge during their heat cycle, which can create stains everywhere they sit. They can also become irritable and difficult to handle.

By removing hormonal urges from your pet through spaying or neutering, you’ll have a more well-mannered, level-headed companion who is less likely to roam, fight, or mark their territory. 

Do you have questions about your pet’s spay or neuter procedure? Give our Lebanon Animal Hospital team a call to discuss the best age to spay or neuter your furry pal, and to cover the procedure more in-depth.