If you do not plan to breed your dog or cat, you should seriously consider spaying or neutering. Ottawa has an over-abundance of dogs and cats that need homes, so adding to the numbers doesn’t help. We discourage the breeding of pets just to experience the “joys of birth,” as interesting as it is. Serious breeders invest a significant amount of money and time on breeding to reduce genetic problems and to promote positive conformational and behavioural traits. Unless you intend to make a career from breeding, you should consider the risks of not having your pet altered.
Female dogs will go into heat (times when they can breed) two to three times a year on average, and female cats have seasonal periods of heats, usually during winter and spring. When a female dog or cat is in heat, they will attract any males in the vicinity. Unexpected breeding account for many of the dogs and cats surrendered to shelters and humane societies. Intact female dogs and cats are at a significantly higher risk for infections of the uterus called pyometra, which can be life-threatening, and also for mammary cancer.
Intact male dogs and cats may have a greater urge to “wander,” particularly if they sense a female in heat. Aggression between males can be a problem, as can excessive marking behaviour with urine.Male dogs also have a greater risk of prostatic infections and testicular disease.
Spaying is usually performed after six months of age. Owners who intend to have dogs in sporting events such as agility, herding, or tracking should consider delaying the surgery until the full physical maturity of the dog, the age of which depends on the breed. For most dogs, however, six months of age is the accepted standard.
Spaying a female dog or cat involves an abdominal surgery to remove her uterus and ovaries. She will not have any more heats and cannot develop infections of the uterus afterwards.
Neutering the male dog or cat involves removal of both testicles.
Both procedures are performed under full anesthesia, but the pets go home the same day as the surgery. We strongly recommend a pre-anesthetic blood test in the week prior to surgery to assess the kidney and liver function, the blood volume and sugar and protein levels, all of which are important for safe anesthesia.
During the surgery, pets are placed on intravenous fluids through a catheter in their front leg to help maintain their blood pressure. Their heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, and blood-oxygen levels are constantly monitored to ensure a safe anesthetic procedure.
Following surgery, we advise the pet owner to keep dogs from off-leash running, jumping and climbing stairs or on furniture for the following week. The sutures are absorbable, and buried below the skin, so there is no need for them to be removed once the healing has occurred.