Spaying your female pet is an important part of basic health care. At Twin Valley VHS, we recommend spaying your pet at 6-8 months of age. There are many benefits to spaying your pet. A spay, if done at a young age, helps to prevent mammary cancer. It also eliminates the chances of pyometra (pyo=pus, metra=uterus), a potentially fatal infection of the reproductive tract of female dogs and cats. Spaying also eliminates unwanted puppies and kittens, noisy and messy heat cycles, roaming, minimizes transmitted disease, and possibly even urine marking in the house. A spayed female is a more attentive and loving pet, because her energy isn’t constantly directed toward finding a mate. This is especially true in cats. When a cat comes into estrus (heat) they will remain in estrus until they have mated with a tom cat.
Spaying is an ovariohysterectomy, which means that the female’s entire reproductive tract is removed. Both the ovaries and the uterus are removed. The uterus is tied off with suture material just in front of the cervix, leaving the vagina to end in a blind sac. It is crucial that the ovaries be removed intact, as it is the ovaries that are responsible for producing the hormones which result in heat cycles, uterus infection, possible mammary tumor development, and behavior problems.
Complications are rare following an ovariohysterectomy. Cats and dogs may discharge a clear to reddish fluid for the first two days and have mild bruising. They may experience some pain, especially if they have been over active. The pet should not be allowed to lick the incision…at all! This will create an infection! Any fluid drainage from the incision is abnormal and if possible the pet should be rechecked by the veterinarian who performed the surgery.
An ovariohysterectomy is a day surgery at our hospital. Your pet will be brought in first thing in the morning, after she has been fasted the night prior. A technician will take a complete history and answer all your questions. The veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam to make certain there are no health problems. The cat or dog is then sedated with a drug combination to alleviate any patient anxiety and minimize the pain associated with the surgery. Once the patient is adequately sedated, she is induced, and then maintained on flowing oxygen and a gas anesthetic. She is prepped (clipped and scrubbed) in a designated area and then moved into the operating room.
Surgery involves making an incision along the center of her abdomen approximately 3 to 8 cm depending on the species, breed and size of the female. The reproductive tract is exposed and removed leaving three places with dissolving sutures, the two ovaries and the uterine body. The body wall is then closed in three layers individually. The muscle layer first, followed by the connective tissue under the skin and finally the skin. All suture material used is dissolvable and does not require removal. Following surgery, the patient is then moved to a quiet, warm kennel, where a technician can observe. Once fully alert the animal are walked or given a litter box and fed a small meal. We recommend that all patients stay until at least 3:30pm before being discharged.
Activity should be minimized for the first 5 days following surgery. This is the most important healing time. Recovery is fast. Most pets are themselves within 2 to 3 days. They should have a normal appetite, use the litter box as usual and be their customary, affectionate self. Later in the recovery period, it is not unusual to notice swelling at the incision site. Cats and dogs often have a mild reaction to the dissolving sutures. This takes place around 2 to 4 weeks after surgery and resolves spontaneously. Such swellings are firm and there is no fluid drainage or bleeding from the incision.
If you have any questions regarding the above information or any concerns in general, please contact Twin Valley VHS at 745-6642.
Dr. Justin Noble DVM
Twin Valley Veterinary Health Services