PET NEUTERING PROCEDURE BASICS
Once a decision to neuter a pet has been made, let’s walk through all the pet neutering procedures that you are probably going to encounter plus some professional tips along the way. There is no such thing as “routine surgery”. Surgery is a skill that requires a tremendous amount of training, experience and guts. A professional just makes it look simple even though it is far from that! You will be expected to sign a pet neutering procedure “release form” which outlines the procedure and any risks associated with it. If the Doctor notices any vulvar swelling or bleeding that could indicate the female is coming into heat; reschedule the surgery for a minimum of TWO MONTHS down the road. Estrogen, that allows a dog to come into heat, also SLOWS DOWN clotting time so it is riskier doing the procedure when she is in heat.
THE WAY IT WORKS
Usually, the pet is dropped off in the morning or brought into the hospital the evening before the pet neutering procedure. If the owner brings the animal in the morning, the dog has had to have been fasted since 12am the evening before. If the animal is dropped off the evening before, the staff will remove all food and water containers from the cage. This is crucial as it decreases the chance of the animal vomiting during surgery.
The dog or cat is given a complete physical and blood is drawn to check cell counts and organ functions prior to the pet neutering procedure. When deemed healthy by the surgeon the animal is prepped with a quieting agent. This is usually called in people a “happy shot”. An IV injection is given to induce general anesthesia, the animal is intubated and hooked up to gas anesthesia that maintains the level of anesthesia required during the procedure. Monitoring equipment is hooked up and the surgeon and staff complete the procedure.
The post operative period is just as important as the surgical procedure. The dog or cat must wake up, the tracheal tube pulled plus making sure that the dog or cat sits up after a brief period of time. The animal must be kept warm and clean plus the incisions monitored for any abnormal post operative bleeding. An E-Collar such as a Kong Cloud Collar® is than placed around the neck of the patient. This collar stays on CONSTANTLY for 2 weeks. Do not take it off!! Dogs and cats get used to them very quickly.
Here is where it gets dicey!! “But Dr. I want to take my pet home TODAY” or “Dr. I don’t want my pet to be by herself at night”. A male dog or cat can normally go home the same day since the incision is small and it is NOT abdominal surgery. The female pet neutering procedure IS abdominal surgery. This patient must rest and be quiet for initial wound healing to occur. A home environment, even caged, is not the solution. All Doctors understand that the family misses their pet but we have to look out for the animals well being. If you do insist on taking the female home that same day, be prepared to sign a liability waiver.
The final component of the pet neutering procedure is done at home. Exercise is restricted for two weeks. Short walks using a leash are okay. No need to clean the incision. Sutures come out in the female at exactly two weeks. Males are easy. No post operative care plus the sutures placed are usually absorbables; meaning they dissolve on their own. 99% of all surgical complications are due to the owner not following directions regarding exercise restrictions. Dogs and cats are not like people. I have seen women hobble around for weeks after a hysterectomy. Not so in the dog or cat. If you opened a cage two hours after surgery, the dog would run away!!
Pain management is important. Injectables are usually given during surgery. When the dog is released the following day, both antibiotics and anti-inflammatory/pain killers are sent home. The most commonly used drug for dogs is Rimadyl®. For tiny dogs and cats that often hurt more after surgery, compared to large dogs, a dilute liquid form of butorphanol is prescribed. Cats can not take Rimadyl®, Tylenol® or aspirin!!!