A spay is a surgical procedure to remove both the ovaries and the uterine body of a female animal. This is usually recommended between the ages of 5-8 months of age.
We recommend spaying our female pets for a multitude of reasons:
- Prevent overpopulation – by spaying our pets we can drastically reduce the risk of unwanted accidental pregnancies.
- Decreased risk of mammary (breast) cancer –Females spayed prior to their first heat have only a 0.05 % risk of developing mammary tumors. After their first heat if they are spayed they have an 8% risk and if they have a second heat their risk now climbs to 26%! (this is 1 in 4 dogs)
- Spayed dogs are unable to develop ovarian cancer or uterine cancer since these organs are removed through the surgery
- Pyometra – this is a life threatening uterine infection that is hormonally driven. Essentially bacteria ascends up to the uterus and results in a severe infection that often becomes systemic and without treatment (which is an emergency spay to remove the infection and extensive hospitalization) the animal will likely die.
What should you expect?
Within two weeks of a procedure, we recommend blood tests that check your pets internal organs (predominately the liver and kidneys) and checks both rbc (anemia) and wbc (inflammation /infection). These test results establishes normal reference values for your pet in most cases. We hope for normal! If abnormalities are found, underlying disease may be managed to ensure your pets safety, or anesthesia protocols changed. Many drugs used are broken down by the kidneys and liver, so identifying concerns with their function are especially important prior to an anesthetic.
Your pet needs to be fasted for at least 12 hours prior to receiving a general anesthetic. They lose their swallowing reflex while under a general anesthetic, so if vomiting occurs, they are at risk to having debris go into their lungs. We generally recommend removing all food at 9 pm the night before. Water can be left out overnight and remove water access at 7 am the day of surgery. Your pet is dropped off in the morning between 8-8:30 am. Please make sure that you make us aware of any concerns or changes in your pets health. Microchipping, hernia repair, or removal of deciduous teeth can ideally be addressed concurrently, while a pet is under a general anesthetic.
Behind the scene
Laboratory tests are reviewed, and your pet is examined by a veterinarian. A combination pain relief, sedative is administered. This calms a pet ensuring that less anesthetic is required. The risk of heart and respiratory arrhythmias developing during an anesthesia is also reduced. Once sedated, a front limb is shaved and surgically prepped.
All anesthesia potentially drops the pets blood pressure, potentially lowering blood flow to the organs. Intravenous fluids ensure that a pets blood pressure is maintained during an anesthesia. If an IV is already in place, it can save valuable time in the event of an emergency: the catheter allows quick administration of emergency drugs.
Once the intravenous catheter has been secured in place, another short acting medication is given through the catheter to induce sleep. We then place an endotracheal tube into the pet’s windpipe to deliver oxygen and inhalant gas to keep your pet asleep. The tube ensures an open airway, and its seal ensures that no vomitus is permitted into the pets lungs.
We have a veterinary technician monitor your pet’s vitals including heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, blood pressure, oxygen saturation throughout the entire procedure. The abdomen is clipped of hair and scrubbed with surgical prep and your pet is then moved into a surgical suite. We place a warming blanket underneath your pet to prevent hypothermia. We have a specialized blanket with circulating heat to minimize the risk of thermal burns, a concern with an anesthetised pet that is immobile.
A second surgical preparation is done over the shaved area. An incision is made along the middle of abdomen, gaining entrance into the abdomen. Both ovaries and the uterus are located and their attached vessels are clamped and ligated with absorbable suture prior to being removed. We then close the abdominal wall, subcutaneous tissues and then skin. The pets receive a second injection of pain relief, and another longer duration drug for continued pain relief, and anti-inflammatory effects while at home.
We continue to monitor your pet until they are awake, at which point we remove the endotracheal tube and ensure they are recovering smoothly. We continue to monitor their vital signs and ensure their continued comfort before ensuring they are safe to go home.
Most spay patients will go home the same day and often act as if nothing happened. By starting pain relief prior to a surgery, they will have a quicker recovery and heal faster.
The pets are often released after 5 p.m. the day of surgery. We can expect them to urinate more than usual as a consequence of the intravenous fluids, and should be fed smaller frequent meals. Care should be taken to allow them to rest undisturbed at home. Their activity should be restricted, bathroom leash walks only.
In the rare event that a patient needs special monitoring under veterinarian supervision, they can be transferred to the 24 hour emergency clinic. It is very important that they are kept quiet and should be rested, so if you feel that this is not possible for the first evening then we are more than happy to have them stay with us and we will discharge them the next day. Please note we do not have overnight staff.
Please check the incision daily – if you notice any redness, swelling, discharge or have any concerns, then please call the clinic. An Elizabethan collar should be 2 inches beyond the pets nose to prevent licking, and subsequent infection.
Included in the spay price is a recheck appointment 10-14 days later. Sutures, if any, are removed at this time.
Exercise should be restricted for the week following surgery. Walks should be limited to 10 minutes at a time. Excessive activity can lead to tearing of internal sutures, as well as fluid accumulation under the skin.
Following surgery it is recommended to feed your dog/cat small frequent meals the day they come home. Normal feeding schedule can resume the next day. It is recommended after your pet has been spayed to decrease their caloric intake by 10-25% because they will no longer need as much calories and they are entering adulthood. It is generally recommended to switch to an adult food at 10-12 months of age for cats and small dogs. Giant breeds should stay on a large breed puppy diet for at least 14 months. If you are uncertain or have any dietary questions please ask !!!