Puppies and Kittens needing homes
Spaying or neutering your pet is one of the best investments you can make in your friend’s longevity and happiness.  We must not forget that this is major surgery and the procedure should not be taken lightly.  We hope the following topics help you to better understand the why’s and how’s of this important preventive care service:

“Spay” is the layman’s term for ovariohysterectomy – surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries.  This a major abdominal surgery that involves an incision on the abdomen and subsequent removal of the entire uterus and both ovaries.  This not only renders the dog or cat sterile (unable to reproduce), but also prevents heat cycles and behaviors associated with them.  Many people worry that the side effects common to women who undergo hysterectomy will occur in their pets.  This has been shown to be untrue.
“Neuter” is another word for castration, or removal of the testicles.  This procedure involves a superficial incision near the scrotum and subsequent removal of both testicles in their entirety.  The abdomen is not entered unless the dog or cat has “retained” a testicle within the abdomen (called cryptorchoidism).  This is different than a vasectomy in that the entire testicle is removed.  Neutering renders the dog or cat sterile (unable to reproduce) and decreases testosterone levels greatly.
Dogs and cats that are spayed cannot reproduce and thus cannot add to the pet over-population problem in the US.  They also will not come into heat, so you can avoid the unusual behaviors associated with estrus in dogs and cats, not to mention the overwhelming attention from intact males from the neighborhood!  Additionally, removing the ovaries and uterus makes cancer of these organs impossible.  If your pet is spayed before ever coming into heat, the chances of mammary gland cancer (breast cancer) is almost completely removed – that means we prevent 3 common cancers!  Other reproductive diseases, such as massive uterine infections are also prevented.
The boys benefit more behaviorally than medically from neutering, at least while they are young.  Many of the unwanted behaviors associated with intact males are learned while they are young – urine marking, wandering after intact females, aggression or territorialism.  If an animal is neutered before he begins to engage in these behaviors, they will not develop later in life.  If a dog or cat is allowed to make these behaviors habits, they may not go away after neutering.  As dogs and cats age, the chances of prostatic disease increase.  Those that are neutered are far less likely to have troubles.
As is true with all of our surgeries, our focus is on safety, comfort and pain control.  Every animal undergoing any surgery at Animal Care Clinic will have a thorough evaluation by a veterinarian on the morning of the procedure and will have some level of laboratory screening.  This allows us to develop an anesthetic plan specifically for your pet, which is why we call anesthesia at ACC “safe anesthesia.” An IV catheter and continuous IV fluids ensure adequate hydration that not only maintains blood pressure and a safer anesthetic situation, but also provides for improved comfort.  Animals that do not receive IV fluids will feel like they have a hangover when they wake up – this is a side effect of dehydration.  Our patients wake up smiling! Each pet has a custom designed pain control protocol that addresses pre-anesthetic anxiousness, preventing recognition of surgically induced pain, and maintaining pain control immediately after surgery and in the days to follow.  Different species and animals will experience and deal with pain and anxiousness differently.  Our doctors will assess your pet as soon as he or she arrives and determine a plan that will ensure they are relaxed during the preparation period and pain free during and after surgery.  You will be sent home with pain controlling medications to give to your pet during the days that follow surgery.  Most of our clients say that their pets act like nothing ever happened to them! Our spays and neuters are performed in our surgery room like any other major surgical procedure.  Doctors scrub and gown and use high quality sterile surgery packs.  You are welcome to watch the procedure through our surgical viewing window to see how professional we are.  Anesthesia is monitored closely from the time we begin to give medications until your pet is fully awake.  You can learn more about our anesthesia protocols on our services pages.  All of this ensures a sterile environment that prevents infection.  Since our doctors do not have to worry about anesthesia and always have an assistant in the room with them, they can focus on the surgery completely.  This is part of the reason our spay and neuter complication rate is virtually 0%! After the procedure, your pet will recover in our intensive care unit.  Here we can monitor vital signs and make sure there is no experience of post-operative pain.   Our doctors and veterinary nursing team are immediately available should any worrisome trends be found.  The room is heated and IV fluids are continued so your pets wakes up warm, comfortable and happy. Since your pet will have no external sutures, there is no need to return for a recheck visit – everything dissolves on its own.  This type of suturing is far more comfortable that external sutures or staples, so it is rare for any of our patients to need those “cone collars” to prevent licking.  Pain controlling medication is given orally at home and most clients find this extremely simple to do!

The Day of the Procedure

Most of our pet owners prefer to admit their pets into the surgical ward on the morning of the surgery.  This can happen as early as 7am and as late as 10:30am, with most patients arriving between 7:30 & 9:00.  You are welcome to admit your pet the night before and have him or her spend the night with us at no charge.  During the admit visit, one of our veterinary nursing team members will go over the details of the day and will ask some questions about your pet’s medical history.  You will also be given a complete treatment plan with expected costs.  You should expect the admit process to take about 15 minutes. We begin the examination and pre-operative procedures as soon as your pet arrives.  Surgeries occur throughout the day.  As soon as your pet is waking up, your doctor will call you to let you know how the procedure went and what time your buddy will be ready to go home.  If you prefer, we can send a text message instead.  Some of our clients prefer more contact with us throughout the day, and we are happy to oblige – after all, you are leaving your baby with us! Most patients go home between 3:00 and 5:30 in the afternoon.  One of our veterinary nursing team members will meet with you and give you specific instructions on how to care for your pet when you get home.  We will review pain medication also.  You will also receive written discharge instructions from the doctor.  Our doctors are available for emergency consults until 11pm if you have any questions for us.  You can expect a phone call the following day to be sure your baby is okay!

The afternoon and evening after the procedure, your pet may be a little sleepy and maybe even seem a little drunk.  This is due to the narcotic medications we have use dot make sure there is no pain.  There is no need to worry about this.  It is best to just let them sleep it off.  Most of our patients will happily eat a small meal the evening after surgery, but many will want to wait to eat until the following morning.  You may want to used canned food or moisten the dry food to make it taste better. All pets should be kept quiet for the first 24 hours and have activity limited for about a week after surgery.  Running and jumping can put undue stress on sutures and may even cause them to open.  It is best to keep cats indoors and to keep dogs on leashes when outdoors.  Do not allow your pets to swim and do not bathe them for at least 10 days after surgery. If you notice your pet licking at the incision, we will need to get a cone collar for you.  This is not very common in our practice.  Do not delay in contacting us and getting the collar.  Pets can lick out sutures in seconds and this can lead to infection or even the opening of the incision.