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Information About Spaying Your Dog
Spaying your dog is an important step in preventing health problems later on in her life. The risk of mammary cancer is almost completely eliminated by spaying before the first heat cycle and somewhat reduced by spaying before the second heat. It also eliminates the risk of uterine infections which happen all too often in older intact female dogs and can be life-threatening. Furthermore, spaying eliminates having to deal with a dog in heat (bleeding, attracting male dogs) as well as the chance of an unwanted pregnancy.
The surgical procedure is an ovariohysterectomy, the removal of both ovaries and the entire uterus. This is done through an incision on the belly that is typically closed with buried, dissolvable sutures so a return visit for suture removal is not necessary. This is significant abdominal surgery, but dogs typically recover quickly. After surgery, your dog will be kept overnight to allow her to wake up quietly and completely from anesthesia in a monitored environment. She will be able to go home any time after 10 a.m. the next day. This allows us to check her incision and prepare her paperwork for discharge.
When You Get Home: We recommend that you withhold food or water for approximately two hours after you return home. When they get home, dogs can often be excited enough to gulp food and/or water causing them to become nauseous and vomit. After your dog has settled in, a normal feeding schedule can be resumed unless otherwise directed.
Wound Care: The surgical site will be easy to see in the middle of the shaved area on your dog's belly. Check it when you first get her home so that you know how it initially looks. Monitor this area for the next ten days for any discharge, significant redness, swelling or bruising. Occasionally a dog will start to lick the incision excessively, making it red and moist. It is very important to closely watch for this behavior. Too much licking can slow healing and even cause the incision to open up. To prevent this, dogs that lick may need to wear a lampshade-shaped Elizabethan collar over their heads until the incision is healed. If we have shaved an area on a front leg for medication administration, monitor that area for licking as well.
Activity: Rest is critical for normal healing to occur. For at least ten days, your dog should be brought outside only when necessary and then only on a leash or under your direct control. Too much activity can slow healing and lead to bruising, swelling, and/or fluid accumulation under the incision. Leash walks are okay but they should be kept short. When indoors, discourage your dog from jumping and going up and down stairs too frequently. Any bathing and grooming should also be avoided during this time.
Feeding: While spaying is very important to your dog's health and longevity, the surgery has been shown to decrease a dog's metabolic rate and possibly increase the body's ability to store fat. This means that most dogs will gain excessive weight once they are spayed and have finished growing unless their food intake is limited. We recommend that you slowly decrease your dog's caloric intake by up to 25% to 30% over the next few months. This may mean limiting portions and decreasing the size and/or frequency of treats and snacks. Obesity in dogs has been clearly associated with the earlier onset of diseases and a shortened lifespan.
Questions: Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.