Pet Care Basics

Spaying, Neutering and Other Pet Sterilization Options

November 29, 2022

Spaying, Neutering and Other Pet Sterilization Options

Last updated: May 17, 2017

Preventing Unwanted Pet Pregnancies

When it comes to our pets, we always want to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Your veterinarian can help you decide the best path for your pet and what age is best to get that done. Here is a brief explanation of the options available.

Surgical Sterilization

During surgical sterilization, a veterinarian removes certain reproductive organs making the pet unable to reproduce and eliminating their breeding instinct. Before opting for a surgical option, do some research to find out what level of care your pet will receive. If possible, tour the facility and the surgery room. Find out about how anesthesia will be done and how your dog or cat will be monitored and ask how your pet's pain will be controlled after surgery. Any surgical procedure, does require some anesthetic and surgical risk, but the overall occurrence of complications is low.

    Spaying (Ovariohysterectomy): Removes the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus of a female dog or cat.
    Facts to Consider:
    – Eliminates her heat cycle.
    – Requires minimal hospitalization.
    – Spaying female dogs and cats before their first heat can help protect them from some health problems such as uterine infections.
    – Uterine, cervical, ovarian and mammary cancer can be prevented with spaying.
    – The cost of your pet's spay or neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter or treating a medical issue we could prevent.
    – Removing your pet's ovaries removes certain hormones and can result in a low risk of health problems such as urinary incontinence.
    – Early spaying can create a low risk of some types of cancer for puppies.

    Neutering (Orchiectomy): Removes the testicles of your male dog or cat.
    Facts to Consider:
    – Removes males inclination to roam so they are more content to stay at home.
    – Can lessen his risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate gland) and testicular cancer.
    – Unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house.
    – Helps avoid many aggression problems.
    – Removing your pet's testes removes certain hormones and can result in a low risk of health problems such as urinary incontinence.
    – Early neutering can create a low risk of some types of cancer for puppies.

Surgical Alternatives to Traditional Spaying and Neutering

There are other alternative surgical options to prevent pregnancy; however, these alternatives are not commonly used. Like any surgical procedure, they include some anesthetic and surgical risk.

    Hysterectomy: the uterus and part of the fallopian tubes are removed from a female dog or cat.
    Facts to Consider:
    – Ovaries remain and will produce hormones.
    – This may not eliminate the dog or cat's behaviors associated with the breeding instinct.

    Vasectomy: only the vas deferens, which is a duct in the male body that conducts sperm from the testes, are removed.
    Facts to Consider:
    – Testes remain and will produce hormones.
    – This may not eliminate the dog or cat's behaviors associated with the breeding instinct, just renders him sterile.

    Ovariectomy: the ovaries are removed from a female dog or cat, but the uterus remains.
    Facts to Consider:
    – Prone to pyometra, which is an infection in the uterus that occurs as a result of hormonal changes in the female's reproductive tract.
    – Eliminates her heat cycle and breeding instinct-related behavior.

Nonsurgical Options

    For Females: Consider using a breeding-control harness that attaches to the female and deters unwanted or accidental breeding. The female will continue to have a heat cycle.

    For Males: There is an approved product used to neuter male cats and dogs that is injected into the testes to stop sperm production which causes the dog or cat to become infertile. Not all of the hormone-producing cells of the testes will be affected by the drug, therefore the testes will continue to produce some hormones.

Before selecting a sterilization option for your dog or cat, it's important to consult with your pet's veterinarian to help choose the right option for your pet and your family.

Shelley Hexom is Revival's Content Manager and helps develop educational pet health resources. A three-time Emmy Award-winning news anchor, Shelley works with Revival's Director of Veterinary Services to help create useful and easy-to-understand articles, videos, and webinars. Shelley received her bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from Winona State University in 2002. As a pet owner, Shelley enjoys time with her Boxer mix, Sally. Shelley has been part of the Revival Paw Squad since 2016.

Sources:
AVMA
Pets WebMD

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