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Nanaimo Veterinary Hospital

To Spay or not to Spay?

January 14, 2015

Dr. Pamela Damon observes a colleague performing a spay surgery at Nanaimo Veterinary Hospital

We all know that having our female pets spayed prevents unwanted pregnancies and inhibits heat cycles, which can be difficult for both pet and owner. However, there are several other, more serious medical conditions that spaying can also help prevent. Unfortunately, we have seen a few cases of pyometra in recent weeks, so Dr. Jill Harrison provided the following article to help explain the importance  of having your female pet spayed.

 Why is it necessary to spay our female pets?

 - Jill Harrison, D.V.M 

To many of us our pets are another member of the family, and their health and longevity is of utmost importance.  There are numerous decisions and responsibilities that are associated with owning a pet and this discussion focuses on the importance of spaying female dogs and cats.

What is a Spay?

A spay is the surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries using conventional surgical techniques while the patient is under general anesthesia. Spaying your female pet will eliminate the possibility of unwanted pregnancies and heat cycles, assist population control, minimize reproductive related behaviors, and reduce the possibility of health related issues such as uterine infections and mammary cancer.

The Risks of not Spaying

An infection of the uterus is known as a pyometra. This condition is extremely serious and can have devastating complications in our female pets.  The risk of this medical condition is dramatically reduced in our spayed pets; as well, spayed females are at a much lower risk of developing mammary (breast) cancer than intact females. Alarmingly, female dogs who are not spayed before their second heat cycle have a one in four chance of developing mammary cancer. Fifty percent of all mammary cancers in dogs and an astonishing 80-90% of mammary cancers in cats have the potential to spread to other areas in the body. Therefore, it is highly encouraged that female dogs and cats are spayed at 6 months of age, which is typically prior to their first heat cycle, thus reducing their chances of developing mammary cancer.

Recovery Time

Most pets do very well during and after their spay surgery. In order to maximize their healing and reduce any post surgical complications, it is important to keep them quiet and calm, and to closely monitor their incision for at least a week after their surgery. Spayed females may experience hormonal changes that can lead to weight gain. It is necessary to monitor their weight closely, feed appropriately and provide them ample exercise once they have recovered fully from their procedure. 

Please contact your veterinarian to find out more about the options available for your female pet.

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