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Why should you spay your pet?

Most people understand it is important to spay a female pet, but are unaware of all the health benefits spaying provides. In addition to the risk of unwanted puppies or kittens, pets that have not been spayed can have many health problems. The average lifespan for an unspayed pet is 60% of normal. Health problems that can develop include:

  • Mammary cancer
  • Ovarian tumors
  • Vaginal infections
  • Uterine infections
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Endocrine diseases
  • Uterine abscesses (pyometra)
  • Bone marrow suppression
  • Behavior problems
  • Uterine cancer
  • Vaginal polyps
  • Increase escapes & injuries

What is spaying?

The spaying of a female pet (ovariohysterectomy) is the surgical removal of the uterus and the ovaries. Unlike the discomfort uterine surgery produces in humans, pets seem to experience much less pain after spaying. The surgery is not the same as “tube tying”, where only the fallopian tubes or “egg tubes” are tied.

What is the procedure the day of surgery?

The night before surgery it is advised to withhold food after about 8pm and water after bedtime. (Check with your doctor; not all pets should have food or water withheld.) Your pet is brought to the hospital in the morning before 9am. Routine blood tests are advised to make sure your pet has no hidden health problems that could complicate surgery. Your pet is put under anesthesia and the surgery is performed by the doctor and surgical staff. Your pet is given medication to reduce any pain right after surgery and allowed to recover in a quiet, confined area. Most patients will go home the next day.

Are there any risks to anesthesia?

When a person or an animal is to be anesthetized, there is a the potential for complications. Your doctor and the surgical team will take many precautions to minimize any risk to your pet. Before anesthesia, the doctor will examine your pet. Bloodwork will be done to evaluate any hidden problems before surgery. If a problem is suspected, additional tests may be done, or the procedure delayed.

Isoflurane gas anesthetized has revolutionized anesthesia for our pets. It is extremely safe, allowing the doctor accurate control of the patient’s depth of anesthesia. recovery is quick avoiding many of the complications seen even just a few years ago. Pets under anesthesia will have their hearts, breathing, oxygen levels, and circulation monitored at all times. This allows doctors to react quickly, before a real problem arises. In addition, an intravenous catheter will be placed prior to surgery to provide supportive fluids, ensuring proper blood pressure, the administration of medication, and a faster post-op surgery recovery.

What should be done after surgery?

Activity should be restricted for 10-14 days after surgery. Walks on leash are fine, but running and jumping should be avoided. Some pets will lick at the incision; this must be discouraged as licking can infect or open the incision. An Elizabethan collar may be used to prevent licking.

Questions You Should Ask When it’s the Time to Spay or Castrate Your Pet

While often the most common surgical procedure performed in Veterinary Hospitals, a spay or an ovariohysterectomy for female cats and dogs, and castration or an orchioectomy in male cats and dogs, commonly known as neutering, is nonetheless considered a major and sometimes complex surgical procedure.

In order to make the best possible choice for the well-being of your pet during and after surgery, clients should know what standards are available for the best possible care. If you plan to “shop” for the best value, make sure you are prepared to ask the “right questions.” IVS has prepared a list of questions for you to ask in making the best decision for you and your pet.

  1. What experience does the Veterinary surgeon have in this area and how long has he/she been practicing Veterinary Medicine?
  2. Will the Veterinary Surgeon be assisted by a skilled Veterinary technician to assist in monitoring my pet’s vital signs?
  3. Will a pulse oximeter or other blood oxygen and heart rate monitor be utilized during surgery? Is an endotracheal tube utilized during surgery to ensure breathing passages remain clear?
  4. Will my pet receive a complete pre-surgical physical? Does your facility have the capability of processing a pre-anesthesia blood chemistry prior to my pet’s surgery to assure that surgery will be without great risk to my pet?
  5. Will my pet’s health be assured by the use of a sterile surgery pack, autoclaved according to American Animal Hospital Association standards?
  6. What kind of anesthesia will be utilized on my pet? Is Isoflurane anesthesia—the safest available—available for my pet? Will my pet receive intravenous fluid therapy and catheterization to ensure proper hydration and a speedy recovery following surgery?
  7. Is the surgery suite sterile and fully equipped with emergency resuscitation drugs and equipment?
  8. Will my pet be closely monitored during anesthesia recovery, and will I be called immediately after surgery?
  9. Does your facility encourage an overnight stay to assure a pet’s quiet rest, and will my pet be released by a Veterinarian or technician with detailed after-care instructions?
  10. Will your facility use pain medication and/or an antibiotic injection during and after the procedure?
  11. Will you call me to follow up on my pet after the procedure?
  12. May I visit your facility and benefit from a tour of the surgery and treatment areas?

These standards are recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association and Irvine Veterinary Services.

Laparoscopy – A New Approach to Spaying


Laparoscopic surgery, also called minimally invasive surgery (MIS), bandaid surgery, or keyhole surgery, is a modern surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through small incisions (usually 0.5 – 1.5 cm) as opposed to the larger incisions needed in laparotomy.

There are a number of advantages to the patient with laparoscopic surgery versus an open procedure. These include reduced pain due to smaller incisions and hemorrhaging and shorter recovery time.

Learn More about Laparoscopy at IVS