One of the first major decisions many pet owners are faced with is at what time to spay or neuter their pet. While these surgeries are common practice, many pet owners are unaware of the added health benefits to their four legged friend. Females are less likely to have mammary cancer. Mammary cancer is the number one cancer in dogs. Spaying before the first season has been proven to stop mammary cancer 100%. However, spaying after 2 years of age has no affect. In addition, spayed females are no longer at risk for conditions like pregnancy and uterine infection, a condition which can be costly and life threatening. Neutered males are no longer at risk for testicular and prostate diseases that many unaltered males face later in life. Spays include the complete removal of ovaries and uterus requiring an incision into the abdomen (ovariohysterectomy), while neutering is a typically less invasive procedure completed on the exterior of the abdomen (castration). In either case, pets that are not spayed or neutered are more likely to wander away from home, experience increased behavioral problems such as marking their territory and often express territorial aggression towards other animals.
Surgeries to spay or neuter a pet are considered a major surgery and usually preformed as a day procedure, allowing the pet to recover in the comfort of their own home and surroundings. Many options are available to decrease the length of a pet’s recovery time including post operative pain medications, e-collars, and laser surgery which lessens pain, bleeding and swelling. Keeping pets confined following surgery lessens their risk of post operative complications including swelling, trauma to the incision site, and sutures tearing through skin, all of which may lead to infection and/or necessitate additional corrective surgeries. Also, umbilical hernias are treated at the same time of spaying and neutering. Umbilical hernias occur when the interior portion of the umbilicus protrudes through a hole in the abdominal wall during development causing a lump under the skin. Veterinarians agree that this is the most appropriate time to repair an umbilical hernia (if not severe) in order to avoid unnecessary additional financial costs to the owner and added anesthetic risks to the pet. Spaying/neutering and hernia repair is commonly recommended at around 4-6 months of age. Some shelters are doing the procedures at an earlier age. Ask Animal Central for addition information on spaying, neutering and umbilical hernia repair for your pet.
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Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff