When and why should I sterilize my pet?
The general recommended age to have your pet spayed or neutered is 6 to7 months. For female cats and dogs, this is before their first heat (estrus) cycle at which time they could potentially conceive a litter. Many free-roaming dogs and cats would become pregnant on their first heat and so spaying before this age prevents unwanted pregnancies. Spaying before the first heat may also significantly lower the risk of cats and dogs developing mammary cancer as adults.
For male cats and dogs, neutering at 6 to 7 months reduces territorial marking behaviour and to some degree, aggression between males. Neutering may also reduce a male dog’s chances of developing prostate cancer as an adult. So there are health benefits to spaying or neutering your pet, in addition to preventing unexpected or unwanted litters. It is believed that sterilized animals generally have lowered metabolic rates and so it is important to reduce their caloric intake as they mature to avoid obesity. Recent studies show that sterilized pets live 2 years longer on average than intact animals.
What is involved in performing a spay or neuter?
At McKenzie Veterinary Services we have full surgical services and perform your pet’s sterilization in our hospital. Spays and neuters are day surgeries, meaning your pet has the surgery done in the morning and can go home the same day after they have recovered from the anesthetic. Every pet is given a pre-anesthetic exam so that we can determine if there are any health issues which may make our vets choose a specific anesthetic regime ( for example a heart murmur or a breed specific anesthesia protocol).
In addition, if there are other procedures which should be carried out at the time of the sterilization, then these can be performed at the same time under one anesthetic. Examples of extra procedures include extraction of baby teeth which may be retained or causing dental crowding, cryptorchid neuters, applying a BC Identification tattoo, umbilical hernia repairs, dewclaw removals, or soft palate and nasal fold resections on brachycephalic dog breeds (such as pugs, bulldogs and Boston terriers). If during the first few puppy visits we have discussed any of these health issues you can be sure we will discuss them again with you before the surgery takes place. These extra procedures have additional costs associated with them. Please ask for an estimate of the costs if you have not received one before the day of the spay or neuter.
What will my pet experience?
It is normal for every owner to have concerns for what their pet will experience when left at the veterinary clinic and also about possible anesthetic or surgical complications. Even though these are routine procedures, we take great care to ensure that each pet is prepared for surgery. We ask that owners fast their pet before the surgery. Water is allowed on the morning of the surgery. On admission to the clinic, our technician assistant will ask you a series of questions about the health of your pet, and go over the costs of any extra procedures, and address any questions the surgeon may have.
Pets are placed in a clean, comfortable kennel and then examined by the vet. Each pet has an individual anesthetic protocol created by the veterinary surgeon that first involves administering a sedative to calm a pet and enable the technician to place an intravenous catheter into a forearm or hind leg. Anesthetic inductions agents are administered via the IV catheter and upon reaching a light level of anesthesia, your pet will then have an endotracheal tube placed into the trachea. They are then connected to the gas anesthesia machine which delivers an oxygen/anesthetic gas mixture to control the plane of anesthesia during surgery. They are then connected to a blood pressure monitor and intravenous fluids. The skin is shaved and prepped and then moved into the surgical suite. For spays and neuters, we also administer line blocks which are local anesthesia of the skin and sub skin tissues in the site where the skin will be cut during surgery. These line blocks greatly help reduce post operative pain immediately after a pet wakes up from the anesthetic, and for several hours afterwards.
During the surgery, your pets vital signs are closely monitored by a trained animal health technician and the pet is kept warm on a blanket that circulates warm water. Once the surgery is complete, your pet is moved into recovery, the endotracheal tube is removed, they are given post operative pain control medications and monitored until they are well recovered. You will then receive a call to let you know that all has gone well, and arrange a pickup time.
What is included in the cost of a spay?
The basic spay or neuter costs include the pre-anesthetic exam done on the day of the surgery, the sedative and anesthetic drugs and monitoring, the surgery and surgical supplies, intravenous fluids during surgery (except for cat neuters, which are completed very quickly and involve little potential blood loss), post operative pain medications, hospitalization and nursing care.
Not included in the basic fee for a spay or neuter are a Buster collar to prevent post operative licking at the surgery site, tattooing, microchiping, and any the fees for any additional anesthetic or surgical procedures done at the same time as the spay or neuter, such as discussed above.
There are also surcharges applied if you pet is in heat, mature (i.e. Having gone through at least one heat cycle) or is pregnant at the time of the spay. Extra fees also apply when a male dog or cat has an undescended testicle, weather inguinal or abdominally located.