The Truth Behind Spaying & Neutering

Learn the Facts

Commonly Asked Questions About Spaying and Neutering

Question: Is spay or neuter surgery painful?

Answer: During a spay or neuter surgery, dogs and cats are fully anesthetized, so they feel no pain. Afterwards, most animals seem to experience some discomfort, but signs of discomfort disappear within a few days, and with pain medication, pain may not be experienced at all.

Question: Is spay or neuter surgery expensive?

Answer: Spay or neuter surgery generally costs less than most major surgeries, especially if the dog or cat is young and healthy. We offer low-cost spaying and neutering because we believe it is best for your pet’s health, and we want to do our part in helping to reduce the serious problem of pet overpopulation.

Question: Shouldn’t a female dog or cat have one litter, or at least one heat cycle, before being spayed?

Answer: To the contrary, a dog or cat has the best chance of good health if spayed before her first heat. Early spaying reduces the risk of mammary tumors and prevents life-threatening uterine infections.

Question: Can a pregnant dog or cat be safely spayed?

Answer: Many dogs and cats are spayed while pregnant to prevent the birth of puppies or kittens. A veterinarian must consider the health of the pregnant animal as well as the stage of pregnancy, before deciding whether she can be safely spayed.

Question: Do spayed or neutered animals get overweight?

Answer: In some dogs and cats, metabolism does decrease following spaying or neutering. Nevertheless, if fed only the appropriate amount of food and if adequately exercised, spayed or neutered dogs and cats are unlikely to become overweight.

Question: Will sterilization negatively affect my pet's behavior?

Answer: The only changes in dog and cat behavior after spaying or neutering are positive changes. Male cats tend to reduce territorial spraying, depending on their age at neutering. Neutered dogs and cats fight less, resulting in fewer bite and scratch wounds and lessening the spread of contagious diseases. Male dogs and cats tend to stay home more after neutering because they no longer wander in search of a mate.

Health Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

Female Dogs and Cats

Spaying removes the ovaries and uterus from female animals and eliminates the possibility of ovarian and uterine infection or cancer. Bacterial infection of the uterus (pyometra) commonly afflicts older unspayed dogs and cats. As
pyometra advances, bacterial poisons enter the bloodstream, causing general illness and often kidney failure. If the uterus ruptures, the dog or cat will almost certainly die. Pyometra requires emergency spaying, which may fail to
save an animal already severely weakened. The best preventative is to spay dogs and cats while they are young and healthy.

Spaying can also prevent mammary gland tumors, the most common tumor in unspayed females dogs and the third most common in female cats. A high percentage of mammary tumors are malignant: in dogs, nearly 50 percent;
in cats, nearly 90 percent. An unspayed dog is approximately 4 times more likely to develop mammary tumors than a dog spayed after only two heats, and 12 times more likely than a dog spayed before her first year. An unspayed cat is seven times more likely than a spayed cat to develop mammary tumors.

Spayed dogs and cats avoid the dangers of giving birth. A birth canal that is overly narrow—due to injury (such as a broken pelvis) or, as in bulldogs, to a breed trait of narrow hips—make giving birth perilous. So does inadequate body size, which can leave a Chihuahua, toy poodle, Yorkshire terrier, or other small dog too weak to deliver puppies naturally. Such disabilities often necessitate Caesarian section to save the dog or cat’s life. When a small dog begins to nurse her puppies, she is also vulnerable to eclampsia, in which blood calcium plummets. Initial symptoms include panting, high fever, and trembling. Unless given an emergency intravenous injection of calcium, the dog may suffer seizures and die.

Male Cats

An urge to breed increases the chances that a male cat will slip out of the house in search of a mate and suffer fight wounds and other injuries. Most serious cat fights occur between unneutered males. The resulting wounds frequently develop into abscesses that must be surgically drained and treated with antibiotics. Worse, even a single bite can transmit deadly diseases— Feline Immuno¬deficiency Virus (FIV) or Feline Leukemia (FeLV)—from one cat to another.

Male Dogs

Neutering removes the testicles and so prevents testicular tumors in male dogs. A dog who develops a testicular tumor must be treated before the tumor spreads by the only effective means—neutering. Especially prevalent especially when neutered at an early age.

HSSC Spay/Neuter Clinic

This clinic is a donor- and grant-funded program providing low-cost spay and neuter services to Sonoma County residents who cannot afford area veterinary services. If this does not describe your family, please contact area veterinarians for spay/neuter services. Learn more about our clinic here!