Spaying is an important part of preventive care for your dog or cat and helps to ensure lifelong health for your pet. Here our Wake Forest vets talk about how long spaying takes, why it is beneficial and what you can expect from the procedure and recovery.
Benefits of Spaying Female Cats & Dogs
Spaying your female pets can help to prevent a number of serious health issues and undesirable behaviors as well as provide an overall improvement to their quality of life.
Spaying Surgery For Cats
Cats that are spayed before their first heat have a reduced risk for malignant mammary tumors later in life.
Spaying also helps to reduce your cat's chances of developing an infection of the uterus, and of developing cancers of the reproductive organs.
Undesirable behaviors in female cats can be reduced with spaying, including; increased and overly intense affection, intense rubbing on objects, marking territory with urine, the desire to wander and heat-induced howling.
Spaying Surgery For Dogs
Spaying your dog before her first heat can help her to live a long and healthy life by preventing serious issues such as uterine infections and breast tumors.
Spayed dogs won't go into heat if the surgery is done while they are young. Female dogs who are not spayed typically go into heat every six months, for approximately 2 - 4 weeks. While your female dog is in heat she will excrete a bloody vaginal discharge, and may seem edgy, clingy or jumpy.
The Spaying Process
Whether your vet performs a traditional spay on your pet or a laser spay, the process is largely the same:
- A 2-3" incision just below the belly button into the pet's abdomen. Typically, the reproductive tract, both ovaries and the uterus are then removed through this incision.
- Then the incision will be closed using internal stitches, skin glue, skin staples, and/or stitches.
Laser vs Traditional Spaying
In laser surgeries, vets use hot or cold lasers in place of the traditional scalpel. Some vets believe that performing the surgery with the use of a laser helps to both reduce the risk of infection and cut down recovery time due to the cauterization of blood vessels as the laser beam vaporizes the cells and "cuts" through the tissues.
Many vets feel that the benefits of laser spaying are:
- Decreased levels of pain in the immediate post-operative period.
- Reduced bleeding to the cauterization of blood vessels as the laser beam cuts through the tissues.
- Decreased risk of infection due to the superheating of the tissues at the incision site which helps to destroy bacteria present at the time of surgery.
- Less swelling at the surgical site.
Using lasers instead of a scalpel can give the surgeon extreme precision, nonetheless, as with traditional surgery using a scalpel, laser surgery is not risk free. Although lasers may cause less pain than scalpels, laser surgery still has the potential to be painful, and hemorrhage (while rare) can still occur.
While some vets may prefer the use of lasers to perform surgeries, others still prefer to use a scalpel. Vets use scalpels for many procedures and are skilled at doing so. It's also important to note that spaying is amongst the most common of veterinary surgeries and most vets become very skilled at spaying.
Benefits of traditional spay include:
- Readily available at most veterinary hospitals.
- Often costs less than laser spaying.
Hemorrhage is not common when a skilled veterinary surgeon spays a pet, and the type of bleeding that can occur as a complication during spays cannot be stopped or prevented by using a laser rather than a scalpel.
By choosing a reputable vet and an animal hospital that you trust the risks of complications due to the spaying surgery (whether laser or traditional) should be minimal. When you book an appointment to have your pet spayed be sure to ask your vet about the risks of surgery, as well as the recovery process.
How Long Does Recovery After Spaying Take?
Whether you choose to have your pet laser spayed or traditionally spayed your pet will need some time to recover.
Here are tips for a safe and comfortable recovery:
- Provide your pet with a quiet place to recover indoors and away from other animals.
- Reduce your pets activity level for about two weeks following surgery, or as long as your veterinarian recommends.
- Prevent your pet from licking the incision site. Licking could cause an infection. Using a veterinary 'cone' or a post-surgical t-shirt can help to prevent your pet from licking the wound.
- Do not bath your pet or allow them to swim for at least ten days after surgery.
- Check the incision site daily in order to monitor healing and watch for early signs of infection.
If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge at the surgery site, or if the incision has opened up, contact your veterinarian. Also, be sure to contact your vet if your pet is lethargic, has a decreased appetite, is vomiting or has diarrhea or any other concerns following their spay surgery.
Whatever type of spay surgery you choose for your pet remember that the overall benefits of spaying far outweigh the risks involved in this surgery. If you are at all concerned about the risks of spaying your female animal contact your vet for further information and their recommendations on which type of spaying is right for your pet.
What Are The Signs of Complications From Spaying?
Spay and neuter surgeries are common veterinary surgeries and considered safe for pets, nonetheless, complications can occur on occasion. Your pet's incision site will be a little red (same as surgery day or less) but should not get worse. If your pet's incision site does not show signs of healing, contact your vet immediately.
Symptoms that can indicate a problem are:
- Lethargy or lack of normal energy more than 24 hours after surgery
- Discharge or bleeding from the incision site
- Pale gums
- Trouble urinating
- Heavy breathing, panting
- Open incision site
- Pet sitting or laying in an unusual position
- Restless behavior
- Shaking or trembling
- Constant or repeated whining
- Relentless attempts to lick or chew incision site
- Hiding or other unusual behavior
Your pet's incision site will be a little red (same as surgery day or less) but should not get worse. If your pet's incision site does not show signs of healing, contact your vet immediately.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.