Pet Spay and Neuter Procedures
These two sterilization procedures are done under general anesthesia, with your pet fully asleep and intubated (with a breathing tube in their throat). Cat castrations are one exception; these are performed with an injectable anesthetic because it is a faster procedure.
Pet Spay and Neuter Procedures
How are spay and neuter surgeries performed?
These two sterilization procedures are done under general anesthesia, with your pet fully asleep and intubated (with a breathing tube in their throat). Cat castrations are one exception; these are performed with an injectable anesthetic, because it is a faster procedure. Before receiving general anesthesia, your pet is given an injection of medication to make them sleepy and to help with pain relief. Your pet’s vital parameters, including oxygen level and heart rate are monitored by a veterinary technician or veterinary assistant (with the aid of a machine) while they are under anesthesia. We use special equipment, such as heating blankets, to ensure your pet’s comfort and safety during their procedure.
Female animal sterilization is called a spay. Females have an incision made just below the belly button into the abdomen. The reproductive tract, both ovaries and the uterus are completely removed through this incision. Then the incision is closed with two layers of stitches under the skin that dissolve and are absorbed by the body over time. The skin is closed with surgical adhesive, skin sutures or staples.
Male animal sterilization is called castration. Males have an incision made in the skin at the base of the penis nearest to the scrotum (the skin that holds the testicles). Both testicles are removed through the incision. The incision is closed with stiches under the skin that will dissolve and be absorbed by the body over time. The skin is closed with surgical adhesive, skin sutures or staples.
Male cats have an incision made in the skin of the scrotum, and the testicles are removed. The incision is not sealed but will close on its own with time.
How old does an animal have to be before he/she can be spayed or neutered?
At Sequist Animal Hospital, our recommendation is to wait until your animal is at least 6 months of age. The mature size/weight of dogs are taken into consideration. The larger the adult weight will be, generally, the longer we will want to wait.
For large and giant breed dogs: we try to wait for a female to go through 1-2 heat cycles and for the males to reach full maturity (this could be anywhere from 12-24 months of age). This can help your pet develop stronger joint and ligament health which may help prevent problems in the future.
If your pet has behavior issues (humping, wandering off, aggression, etc.), we may recommend surgery to occur sooner.
Also, you may want to check requirements at boarding and daycare facilities that you use, as they generally will have an age cut off for intact animals entering their facility.
What To Expect
How long does surgery take?
Preparing For Surgery
At Sequist Animal Hospital, the health and well-being of your pet is our highest priority. For that reason, we require that a full examination be performed by one of our veterinarians within six months of your animal’s surgical procedure. We also strongly recommend (and sometimes require) pre-anesthetic blood screening.
The examination and the bloodwork complement each other to have the best overall picture of the health of your pet – from the inside out! The reason this is so important is that this can change or even postpone a surgical procedure depending on the outcome of the examination and testing.
A Few Days Before Surgery
Our team works diligently to generate an anesthetic and surgical plan for your pet. Upon arrival, we will ask you important questions related to your pet’s health that will be important information for surgery. Please be prepared to tell us any medications, supplements, or preventatives that your pet is currently taking (including over-the-counter products). This may change the plan for anesthesia and for medication that may be needed after the surgical procedure.
When those questions are being asked, we will also inquire as to what other procedures you may want that day – including nail trim, vaccines, microchip implantation, etc.
We will also review any medical conditions that your pet has as they may affect our anesthetic protocol for the procedure.
We will also have an automated message to remind you of your surgical appointment one day before the scheduled time. (this gives you information on fasting before the procedure as well as confirming the time of admittance).
It is essential that if you cannot keep the appointed time for surgery that you contact the hospital immediately.
The Night Before Surgery
Please do not allow your pet to eat after midnight on the night before the scheduled surgical procedure. Water is okay to leave down through the morning.
If your pet takes medication at night, it is okay to give that medication.
If your pet takes medication in the morning, it is generally okay to give this (if needed, you can give a tiny amount of food around the medication). Please contact the hospital to confirm whether this is correct for your specific animal.
Please contact the hospital if you are unsure if and when you should be giving any medications, supplements or preventatives prior to the surgical procedure.
The Day Of Surgery
Please be prepared to arrive at the scheduled time (note for dog owners: please give your pet some extra time to eliminate before they enter the hospital).
We will need to go over the following:
> Estimate/Consent to Surgery form
> Surgery Admission Form
> Verify phone numbers that will be the best point of contact for the day
> Meet with admitting technician to answer any further questions and collect any remaining information
After you have dropped off your pet, a veterinary technician will perform a cursory examination to ensure that no parameters have changed. They will then discuss the surgery with the veterinarian performing surgery, and the surgical team will then finalize the treatment protocol for your pet.
Your pet will be placed in a comfortable environment to await surgery. They will receive an injectable sedative which will help them become drowsy. An intravenous catheter will be placed for most procedures (this helps to ensure access to administer medications and fluids), and your pet will be completely anesthetized, prepared for surgery, and then the surgery will take place.
During Surgery Procedure
During surgery, the veterinary surgeon will perform the procedure with the aid of one veterinary technician and one veterinary assistant. The supporting staff will monitor your pet during the entire procedure and also assist the doctor during that time.
Immediately After Surgery
Directly after surgery, your pet will continue to be monitored closely as they recover. You will be contacted about how your pet is doing, how the procedure went, and how to care for your pet at home during the recovery period.
Your pet will be sent home the same day that the procedure is performed. The pick-up time will be dependent on multiple factors, including how your pet recovers from anesthesia and your schedule.
Helpful Steps To Prepare For When Your Pet Comes Home From Surgery
> Your pet has had general anesthesia and will still not be back to “normal.” It is best if they can go straight home to a warm and darkened environment that is quiet. This is generally the best way to allow them to continue to wake up slowly and comfortably from anesthesia. Continue to monitor your pet during this process.
> If you have other pets in the household, it is best to keep them separate for the evening and then can be reintroduced, with supervision, the next day. Sometimes, when pets come home, they smell different and act differently, which is sometimes challenging for other pets to see.
> Your dog or cat may need to be on a leash when outdoors during the recovery period for incisional healing. If they are not used to being on a leash or wearing a collar or harness, it may be helpful to work with them prior to the procedure. Your surgical team will make recommendations as to how long using the leash should be necessary. For cats, it may be recommended to keep them strictly indoors.
> Since your pet may need to be kept from running/jumping and playing for a period of time, you may want to have a kennel or crate set up as a place for your pet to rest. It is very important for your pet to be comfortable with this environment before you use it for post-surgery purposes.
> Your pet will need to have a somewhat restricted diet when they come home from surgery. Generally, you can offer small amounts of water and also about 1/4 of the normal amount of food IF your pet seems interested. If they are not interested, then wait until the morning and try to offer food and water normally. If your pet needs to have exercise restriction for more than one week, we recommend reducing the food by 25% to help prevent weight gain while your pet is recovering from surgery.
> There may be medications that your pet receives. Instructions on how to administer as well as when to start the medication will be discussed as well as printed on the medication labels. Please be prepared to hide the medication in something your pet will be interested in or ask our staff about ways in which to hide or administer medication if need be.
> In general, pets will need to wear an e-collar/cone after their surgical procedure. Please click here to learn how to prepare your pet for an e-collar, as well as our recommendations for when your pet should wear the collar. There are alternate options to the e-collar, which must be discussed and purchased well in advance of the procedure.
> It is normal for pets to vocalize some when they are recovering from anesthesia. Again, keeping them in a quiet and darkened environment can help them sleep off the remainder of their anesthesia. Some pets take comfort in being with their owners, so you can prepare to sit quietly with them. For some pets, this makes them vocalize more, so you may want to be prepared to give them some alone time if that seems best.
> Your pet may be a bit unsteady on their feet. We do not recommend having them go up or downstairs without assistance (either holding onto their collar/leash/harness or carrying them up or down). We also do not recommend that they jump on or off couches, beds, or into or out of vehicles.
> Please remember that although your pet has undergone what is likely a major surgery, they will not act like it! Do not give in to them wanting to play and run before they have healed. They are not the best judge of their activity level!
When you arrive at the admission appointment, expect to:
> Make sure your pet has had ample time to urinate and defecate. This is very important to a more comfortable experience for them for the day.
> If your pet already has an e-collar (aka cone, lampshade), please bring it with you at their morning admission appointment. We want to ensure proper fit, and they may need to wear it immediately after surgery
> It is a good idea to have your pet groomed before surgery as they may not have another opportunity to be groomed for 2-10 weeks (depending on the procedure and recovery time)
Please have an idea of any medication or product refills you may need for any of your pets at the time of admittance so that we can have them prepared at the time of pick-up
Does My Pet Have To Come Back? If So, When?
For most routine procedures, your pet will not have to return at any specific time. Exceptions include:
> For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed later. In very specific cases where staples or skin sutures have been placed, the pet will need to return. If this is the case, we will alert you to this and when you will need to return. There is generally no charge for this second appointment.
> If booster vaccines or additional testing are needed. Again, we will guide you on whether this applies to your pet.
> Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively, paw, and/or chew at the incision area, but if you have any concerns about the healing process of the incision, please contact the hospital. We sometimes will recommend emailing a picture for review, but an appointment may be necessary.
Please be aware that if you have any additional questions either before, during, or after surgery that we are always available to help. Please call (802) 888-7776 if you need assistance or if you need to schedule your pet’s surgery.
As always, we are available after hours and on weekends if needed.
The veterinarians and staff at Sequist Animal Hospital
How long does surgery take?
It depends on the procedure. Generally, a male cat castration will take less time than a cat spay, and a male dog castration takes less time than a female dog spay.
Female animals in heat can take a long time because their reproductive tracts are much more fragile and hold more blood when they are in heat. Generally, we will delay the procedure if an animal is in heat (especially dogs). If you have a spay scheduled and your animal comes into heat, please contact the office to see if you should reschedule surgery.
What is anesthesia recovery like?
Usually, within twenty to thirty minutes, cats are able to stand and start to walk. Before they stand and attempt to walk, dogs take a little longer, about thirty to sixty minutes. The longer the surgery generally, the longer it takes for them to recover.
Are there any risks or complications?
Healthy young animals have the lowest risk and are less likely to have any serious complications. However, it can be much harder to keep active young animals quiet after surgery, so they are more likely to have simple post-surgical complications.
Older animals, those in heat and especially those with additional health issues, have a higher risk and are more likely to have complications. If you have any concerns about your pet’s health or if he or she is on medications for a medical condition, please let the veterinary staff know ahead of time so your animal can be treated appropriately.
Some of the more common post-operative complications include inflammation or infection of the incision, opening up of the incision, swelling under the skin at the incision site caused by fluid, and bleeding. These complications can be caused or made worse by the pet licking or chewing the skin at or near the incision or by not keeping the pet quiet as directed after surgery.
Dogs and cats should slowly be transitioned onto adult food (over 2-4 weeks) either before or after their surgical procedure. The reason this is important is that their metabolism slows after their procedure. This may also coincide with them not needing this type of food any longer. Generally, kitten and puppy food can be transitioned to adult food when the animal is 7-9 months of age or older.