Pre- and Post-Operative Care for Elective Surgeries

  1. Common myths and misconceptions around spay and neuter procedures-DEBUNKED

    1. Spaying/neutering causes pets to become overweight:
      1. Generally, lack of exercise and overfeeding leads to pets gaining excess weight- not neutering. To keep pets fit and trim, consult with your veterinarian to determine an exercise and diet plan based on your pets needs.
    2. Neutering as a quick fix for behavior problems:
      1. Neutering may help reduce undesirable behaviors such as roaming, marking, mounting, however, it is important to note that this is not guaranteed. Neutering does not eliminate the testosterone hormone completely, nor does it reverse any behaviors that have been learned or become habitual by the pet. Neutering is dependent on each animals’ individual personality, physiology, and history.
    3. Neutering will make male animals feel less of a male:
      1. Pets do not have any concept of ego or sexual identity, and neutering won’t alter that.
    4. Spay and neuter operations are expensive
      1. The cost of a pet’s spay/neuter procedure is far less than the cost of having and caring for a litter.
  2. Benefits of Elective Surgery: Spay and Neuter

        1. Females
          1. Female dogs and cats that remain intact are at high risk for uterine infection (pyometra) and breast tumors (mammary cancer). Spaying pets prior to their first heat offers the best protection against these diseases. Compared to spaying a dog or cat after their 2nd heat raises their chances of getting breast cancer by 26%.
        2. Males
          1. In addition to preventing unwanted litters, neutering male dogs or cats can prevent testicular cancer and some prostate problems.
          2. Neutering also decreases male animals from roaming away from home which can put them into harm’s way.
        3. Decreases overpopulation of dogs and cats
          1. Yearly, the number of homeless and unwanted dogs and cats, increases, resulting in millions of healthy animals being euthanized. Spaying and neutering pets prevents unwanted litters, helps protect against some serious health conditions, and may reduce some behavioral problems associated with the mating instinct
  3. SO, you’ve agreed to the cost and procedure of neutering your pet! How do you prepare your pet for surgery?

    1. Start thinking ahead!
      1. Consult with your veterinarians about the appropriate time to spay or neuter your pet based upon their breed, age, and physical condition.
      2. Have a designated inside, quiet space for your pet to recover that is away from other animals. The designated space should have non-slip surfaces without raised leveling that could lead to jumping or climbing.
  4. Pre-operative at home

    1. Puppies and kittens
      1. Puppies and kittens should have a small meal at home to prevent low blood sugar.
      2. Feeding puppies full bowls of food is highly discouraged as full stomachs complicate surgeries.
    2. Adults
      1. Removing access to food 12 hours prior to surgery helps decrease the risk of vomiting and nausea related to anesthetic medications.
      2. Water bowls should be kept with dogs leading up to surgery. This helps to maintain hydration, decreases nausea, and improves surgical outcomes.
  5. Pre-operative at the Clinic

    1. Your veterinarian will provide pre-surgical advice that you should follow. There are several services that aid in influencing whether your pet should undergo surgery or not.
      1. History & Physical Exam
        1. Give an accurate description of current medications and existing conditions! This can modify the treatment plan prior to surgery.
      2. Pre-operative Bloodwork
        1. A CBC and Blood chemistry will be conducted to determine the type of pain medication, anesthesia, and monitoring equipment used to make sure your pet remains stable during surgery.
  6. Surgery

    1. General anesthesia is administered to perform the spay or neuter and medications are given to minimize pain.
    2. Surgery will take roughly 30 minutes- 1 hour
    3. Spay
      1. A small incision will be made into the abdomen and the reproductive organs will be surgically removed.
    4. Neuter
      1. A small incision will be made into the scrotum and both testicles will be removed.
  7. Postoperative care at the Clinic

    1. At the clinic, the patient will be monitored until they are fully awake from the surgery.
    2. Once the patient is fully awake and no other medications are deemed necessary, the IV catheter will be removed, and the patient will be monitored throughout the afternoon until they are ready to go home.
    3. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), also known as pain medication, will be sent home with the patient.
  8. Post-operative care at home

    1. To minimize complications and allow the surgical incision to heal, the owners should follow strict exercise restrictions for their pet.
      1. Pet should be calm in a kennel or small room, where they are unable to jump up or down off furniture or up and down stairs. They should also not be allowed to run or play for 14 days.
    2. Licking, scratching, chewing incision can lead to serious complications such as infection, suture failure, and delayed healing.
    3. Medications for pain management should be given as directed by your veterinarian.
      1. The incision site should be monitored daily for increased redness, drainage, pain, and swelling. If any changes are noted, please contact your veterinarian.
    4. The patient should wear an E-collar AT ALL TIMES until directed by your veterinarian. An E-collar is used to prevent patients from licking or biting at their incision, which could result in serious complications.
      1. If an E-collar is not available, a t-shirt can be put on the dog and tied snug around the abdomen (belly).
  9. Complications

    1. If any redness, swelling or discharge is noted at the surgery site, or if the incision is open, please contact your veterinarian.
    2. If your pet is lethargic for more than 24 hours, has a decreased appetite, is vomiting or has diarrhea, or any you have other concerns following surgery, please contact your veterinarian.

Kristen Williams, Kaylyn Tarver, and Hannah Urig, MPH, DVM  

Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine | Class of 2022