Spay and Neuter FAQS

(Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. When should I have my pet spayed or neutered?
Your pet must be 4 months of age and 2 lbs. in weight.

Q. Should I let my pet come into heat once before spaying?
No. Spaying before the first heat decreases the chances of uterine infection and certain cancers.

Q. My pet just had puppies/kittens; how long before she can be spayed?
The puppies/kittens have to be weaned (6-8 weeks of age). The mother’s milk should be completely dry, which happens 10-14 days after she stops nursing. After spay surgery, it is recommended for puppies/kittens to be kept separate during mother's recovery to allow the incision to heal completely.

Q. How can I tell what sex my pet is?
Dog: the penis in the male lies flat against the stomach and the testicles are a few
inches below the rectum.
Cat: can be difficult to tell when they are young. Check for testicles about ½ inch below the anus. Females have a vertical slit fairly close to the anus and males have a round opening farther away (1/4 to 1/2 inch) from the anus, which allows a space for the testicles to develop.

Q. Can I have my pet spayed while she is in heat or pregnant?
Yes, but the surgery is more difficult due to increased blood supply to the ovarian tissues. Because of this, there is usually an additional charge, as well as increased risk.

Q. How long is a dog/cat pregnant?
58 to 63 days.

Q. How long after my cat has kittens can she go into heat?

It’s variable, but often near the time of weaning.

Q. How can I tell if my dog/cat is in heat?

Dog: may drip blood from vulva. Swollen vulva. Attracting male dogs. Female dogs are most likely to mate two weeks after bleeding stops, rather than during the bleeding period.
Cat: behavior changes, including meowing, holding tail high and rolling around. Cats do not bleed.

Q. Is there a health risk of surgery if my pet is over 7 years old*?
Older animals may have problems with their liver or kidneys, which are essential to processing anesthetic drugs. It is better to screen for problems by a blood test before surgery in order to make anesthesia safer. The veterinarian can examine your pet and help you decide whether blood tests are necessary for older pets.

*If your pet is more than 7 years old, please contact the East Bay SPCA Full-Service Veterinary Clinic or your regular veterinarian. We do not perform spay/neuter surgeries on animals seven years and older at our spay/neuter facilities.

Q. Does this hurt my animal?
Animals are unconscious and cannot feel anything during surgery.
Dogs: we use a mild tranquilizer under the skin, then an injection in the vein to induce complete unconsciousness, then a gas anesthetic during surgery.
Cats: we use an injection of tranquilizer and anesthetic in the muscle, then a gas anesthetic during surgery.

Q. Should my pet have pain medication to take home?
At the time of surgery, animals are given a pain-relieving injection, which lasts for about 12 hours. Each pet is evaluated individually for response to pain. If the veterinarian thinks your pet needs pain medication to go home, they will let you know.

Q. Will my pet be able to walk after surgery?
Yes, although he/she will probably be groggy the rest of the evening from the anesthesia.

Q. Will surgery change my pet’s behavior?
There are no negative behavioral changes associated with spaying or neutering, though there are a number of positive effects, including reducing aggression, territoriality, and desire to roam.

Q. Will surgery calm my pet down?
Not likely. It may reduce aggression, especially if the animal is young.

Q. Will my pet get fat after surgery?

The majority do not, but it can increase the ability to gain weight if your pet does not get regular exercise. In addition, as animals mature, they need fewer calories per pound to support their metabolism, especially if they aren't active, so as they get older, we need to feed less on a per pound basis.

Q. When can I bathe my pet after surgery?
Wait at least 7 days, preferably 10 days, to prevent the incision from opening.

Q. Can my female get pregnant after surgery?

Q. Can my male reproduce after the surgery?
Yes, the male can be fertile for up to 6 weeks after neutering.

Q. My pet’s incision is open, what should I do?
What may have happened is the animal licked the incision and caused the edges to swell and the incision to open. It is rare for them to actually chew the stitches out. You will need to buy an Elizabethan collar to prevent further licking for 7-10 days. This will usually cause the swelling to go down and the incision to close. If you think the stitches have actually come out, you should see a veterinarian immediately.

Q. My pet has a lump where the surgery incision is?
A firm, small swelling under the skin is usually a normal inflammatory response to surgery and will get smaller over several weeks. A lump which is soft or accompanied by fever or lethargy should be seen by the veterinarian.

Q. My male dog’s scrotum is red and swollen?
Occasionally a dog’s scrotum will swell after surgery. This can happen in older, large breed dogs, or if the dog is too active after surgery. It is important to prevent licking of the scrotum, and cold compresses can be applied once daily if the dog seems uncomfortable.

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