Spay Or Neuter: What Is The Difference?

Explanation of the difference between spaying and neutering of dogs and cats. Detailed information on the actual surgery and care.

The common euphemism for the surgical solution to birth control in dogs and cats is "fixed." Many people will respond with a blank look when asked if their pet has been spayed or neutered but will readily have the answer if asked if it has been fixed.

Neutering, or castrating, is the term used when addressing a male animal's surgery. Spaying is the female alternative.

When a male dog or cat is neutered, they are sedated and placed under a general anesthesia. A trach tube is placed in the throat to aide in breathing and the genital area is prepped for surgery. Prepping involves shaving, cleansing and disinfecting the area. Although the testicles in each species are removed, there is a slight difference in the procedure.

A cat is the easiest to do. A small incision is made into the scrotum of each testicle. The membrane surrounding the testicle is torn away and the testicle is squeezed so that it pops out. It is attached to the body by the vas deferens as well as an artery. There is a membrane like sheath that covers these and this is cut. Forceps are used to separate the artery from the vas deferens; a clamp is then placed upon the artery. Depending on the doctor, the vas deferens can be used to tie off the artery or surgical thread may be used.

The remaining stump is then put back into the scrotum and the cat is finished. Most doctors do not suture a male cat after surgery because they tend to lick at the area so much.

Dogs are done in basically the same manner except; the incision is made into the sheath of the penis, right above the testicles. Each testicle is pushed up into the sheath and then removed. The incision on dogs is sutured in two layers. The first uses a dissolvable material; the second is usually done with a stronger thread that has to be removed in ten to fourteen days.

In females, spaying involves a total ovario-hysterectomy. This means both the ovaries and the uterus are removed. An incision is made down the midline of the animal. Forceps widens this,, until the membrane that covers the abdomen is separated. Once this is done, the veterinarian locates the ovaries, ties them off on both sides of the area he wants to cut, then snips the ligaments and blood supply. Once this is done, he goes to the base of the uterus and ties a surgical knot around it as far down as possible. A clamp is then placed near the knot. Another knot is made slightly above the first and then the uterus is cut between the two. The clamp is held for a few moments to make sure there is no bleeding from the stump.

If all looks well, the stump is placed back into the abdomen and two to three layers of sutures close the incision.

Both procedures are done on a day patient basis. No food or water is given to the animal after midnight the night before. The animal goes home the same day as the surgery with post-op care instructions.

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