Watch me snip, watch me spay spay!
As we gear up for surgical availability here at Woodland Veterinary, we thought it only appropriate to discuss spays and neuters this month! Spaying and neutering has been somewhat of a standard in veterinary medicine for quite some time, but what exactly are they and why are these procedures performed?
The ovariohysterectomy, or the typical spay, involves removal of the ovaries and uterus through an incision in the abdominal wall. This eliminates her heat cycle and makes her unable to reproduce.
In the orchiectomy, or typical neuter, the testes are fully removed, rendering him unable to reproduce.
So why spay or neuter? The most obvious reason is to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies or kittens. ‘Unwanted’ may mean those that will inevitably end up in shelters and potentially be euthanized, or possibly those who may end up with serious health concerns due to irresponsible breeding. A second reason may be to eliminate (or at least reduce) less-than-ideal behavior that may lead to owner frustration. Examples of these may include roaming, inappropriate urination/marking, and aggression. A third and very important aspect of spaying and neutering involves reducing long term health risks in your pet. For females, this means protecting them from uterine infections and lowering their risk of mammary cancer. For males, the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia and testicular cancer are eliminated.
On the flip side, every procedure carries risks. This can range from anesthetic and surgical complications to long term effects of removing the hormones produced by the ovaries and testes (e.g. urinary incontinence, orthopedic issues, and certain types of cancers). When done appropriately as suggested by your veterinarian, the overall incidence of any of these complications is very low. Another concern frequently expressed by owners (especially it seems from those with hunting dogs) is that they may not be able to perform their job as well. Contrary to this belief, the procedure has no effect on a pet’s intelligence or ability to learn, play, work, or hunt (and may even allow them to concentrate more on their given task!).
So how do we decide (on if and when) to spay or neuter? The absolute best way to decide is to consult with your veterinarian as early in your pet’s life as possible. This way the best time frame for spaying and neutering (based on breed, age, physical condition, etc) as well as the goals you have with your dogs and cats may be met most adequately on an individual basis.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at Woodland Veterinary here in Hickman (402-858-1858)!
-Dr. L Gealow