Why should I spay or neuter my pet?

Across the globe, veterinarians and other animal-oriented professionals recognize February as Spay/Neuter Awareness Month.

Often confused with one another, a spay is the reproductive sterilization of a female animal, while a neuter is the removal of a male animal’s reproductive organs. The public commonly refers to both surgeries as getting one’s animal “fixed.”

For the most part, your family veterinarian can provide spay and neuter services for your pet. While both spaying and neutering are surgical procedures, neutering is relatively simple and straightforward. A traditional spay, however, where the entire reproductive system is removed from the body through an incision in the abdomen, is considered major abdominal surgery.

At Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital, we do not perform routine spays and neuters; these are done by the family veterinarian. Sometimes, we get referrals to our board-certified surgeons for spay and neuter services when pet owners or family veterinarians determine that the animal would benefit from a laparoscopic procedure, which requires just a small opening in the abdominal wall to allow for a fibre-optic camera (laparoscope) to be inserted. This less-invasive procedure reduces the amount of pain, the number of complications, and overall recovery time for the animal.

Top Four Health Reasons to Spay/Neuter Your Cat or Dog

  1. Prevent Unplanned Puppies
    • If your female dog is unspayed, she will come into breeding season or “heat” for several weeks once or twice a year. Each time this happens, she’ll be very alluring to male dogs that can smell the scent from far away. This can bring unwanted canine visitors to your yard and might produce a litter of unplanned puppies.
    • Having a litter is expensive and involves a lot of time and energy on your part. The mother will require veterinary care during pregnancy. Delivery can sometimes be difficult and involve costly surgery or result in the loss of the bitch or puppies. The litter will also require veterinary care and shots after birth. On top of that, finding good homes for puppies can be very difficult.
    • Spaying and neutering is a responsible way to prevent accidental breeding resulting in unwanted puppies. Breeding should be left to breeders who have an organized plan and knowledge about canine genetics, and who are concerned with preserving a breed’s best qualities for future generations.
  1. Behaviour Improvement
    • A spayed or neutered cat is unlikely to participate in intrusive behaviours frequently tied to being in heat (estrus), such as non-stop howling, territorial spraying or mounting / intensely rubbing on other pets.
    • Spaying or neutering cats or dogs can also actively prevent fight-like behaviours and runaway cases, as there will be fewer-to-no attempts to escape the home to find a mate when the animal is no longer in heat.
  1. Decreased Health Risks
    • Unspayed females can develop a painful and life-threatening infection of the uterus called pyometra. Unspayed females are also at a higher risk of mammary tumors than females that have been spayed. Neutering a male dog prevents testicular cancer and reduces the risk of other problems, such as prostate disease. A neutered male dogs and cats might also have less desire to roam.
  1. Increased Life Expectancy
    • Studies show that spayed cats have a longer life expectancy than their pregnant/birthing counterparts, as even just one feline pregnancy can take a great toll on the physical health and well-being of a cat, even if the carrying or birth of its kittens takes place without extreme medical complications.


Will spay/neutering change my pets personality?

Generally, spaying or neutering your pet will not change its personality. If there are any effects on behaviour, they tend to be positive (reducing unwanted behaviour). Spaying or neutering will not change your pet’s affection level or playfulness.

For females, there is typically no change at all. For males, there may be a reduction in some aggressive and roaming behaviours. If you have more than one pet, you will find they often get along much better if they are all spayed or neutered.

Will my pet become fat and lazy once he or she is fixed?

No. Your pet will actually benefit from spaying or neutering, because he or she will lead a healthier and longer life. Pets become fat and lazy as a result of overeating and a lack of exercise, not from spaying or neutering.

​Shouldn’t a female cat/dog have a litter before being spayed?

Allowing a female cat or dog to produce a litter does not have any benefits to the animal. Animals who go through heat cycles and pregnancy are at higher risk for uterine and mammary problems, including mammary cancer, which can be fatal.

There are health risks to the mother during the pregnancy and when giving birth. Proper pre-natal care, emergency care for birth complications, and proper newborn care are expensive and time-consuming.

Reasons To Consider Laparoscopic Spaying For Your Pet

  • Because the surgeon can see the internal structures clearly, only tiny, precise cuts are needed to perform the procedure.
  • Pets that undergo a laparoscopic spay experience considerably less pain than those having a traditional spay, and usually need less pain medication.
  • The surgical opening for a laparoscopic spay is much smaller than in a traditional surgery. This reduces the chance for infection and other complications related to wound closure and healing.
  • Overall recovery and healing time is significantly shorter with the use of laparoscopy.
  • In large, deep chested dogs, a gastropexy, which is a preventive procedure done to prevent gastric torsion (bloating), can also be performed at the same time through the same port.
  • The use of the camera allows the veterinarian to view nearby organs and structures, providing an opportunity to spot other issues during your pet’s surgery.
  • For more information about laparoscopic spay options, call BBVSH at 604-514-8383 or contact your family veterinarian for a referral.

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