The idea of spaying and neutering pets can be a constant struggle between veterinary staff and pet owners. A big belief by pet owners is that we as Veterinary professionals only ask for pets to be spayed and or neutered because we just want to collect on the bill that we will inevitably run up for the surgery itself. This cannot be farther from the truth! There are so many reasons why pets need to be spayed and neutered, and I am going to go through some of those reasons right now! I will also talk about a generic spay/neuter with some highly recommended, but lower expense options compared to one where YOU as the client decide to do more for your pet, or in some cases do NOT decide to do anything at all.
1) Reason 1: Population Control
—Although this is not an actual medical reason as to why you should spay or neuter your pet, it is of just as much importance. Unfortunately there are a lot of unwanted pets in this world. We see stray cats and dogs everywhere. This is due to the fact that people will allow for their pets to mate with another (since they never believed in spaying or neutering), but they never actually wanted anymore animals in their home, so they send them out. These pets if they are not taken to a shelter and fixed will live out in the wild and continue to mate and these pets will multiply VERY quickly. Each dog or cat can have litters of multiples and those litters will go out and mate and have multiples….I am sure you can see where this is going. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to spay or neuter your first pet!
2) Reason 2: Runaways!!
—This is like the old story, why did the chicken cross the road?? Only we turn it around and say why did the dog cross the road?? He was looking for a mate. Most owned pets that escape and run away you will find, are not spayed or neutered. These pets have left their homes in hopes of finding a mate and fulfilling their animalistic needs. Unfortunately in a lot of cases we see that these pets are often found dead on the side of the road, due to being hit by a car while trying to cross. These pets have urges and although you think that you may have it “under control”……you don’t!
3) Reason 3: Medical, medical, medical!!!!
—This is our TOP reason why we ask that all pets are spayed and neutered. We have seen on far too many occasions, pets that come in who are acting abnormal and seem to not be feeling well. The Pet is presented as what we term ADR (Aren’t doing right). This is most commonly associated with, my pet isn’t eating, they are sleeping a lot more than usual, very listless, and they seem like they may be in pain, and in female pets there can be some discharge from the vulva area. In a lot of male pets we will see prostate cancer, which unless caught in time, just like in humans can be life threatening. In females we can see ovarian cancer, breast cancer, pyometra and hyrdometra. Which are just a few of the possibilities. All of which are life threatening. Now we always get the “Well I had a dog that lived to be 18 and she was never fixed”. Well that is wonderful and also extremely lucky!! But just like humans, pets are NOT all the same and can have issues that vary from pet to pet.
***Now for a moment lets talk about how “expensive” it is to get your pet spayed or neutered. I will go off of what our clinic does, not all prices are going to exact, we do everything by weight (Not all clinics are the same). Our requirements for a pet to be spayed or neutered is as follows: they must be up to date on vaccines! Simple. Now if they are puppies they must have all three rounds of vaccines and pets who are older need to at least be current on theirs. Now this is where we get into our first arguments. “I don’t want my pet vaccinated, why does she anyway? You just want more money!!!” NO!!! We want to make sure that your pet is healthy enough to undergo a surgical procedure as well as being safe in our clinic where we treat sick pets. We do not want your pet to contract any diseases while in our facility and we do not want our other patients to contract any diseases from your pets. Simple as that. We only have the health and well being of our animals in mind! Surgery day comes and your pet is current on it’s vaccines, we are set to go. While we do have options that go along with every surgical procedure, in most cases, they are just that…..OPTIONS! Would you like pain medication for your pet? Would you like to take advantage of our CO2 laser surgery as well as our Heat Therapy laser for post surgery? Would you like a cone for your pet after surgery? Would you like your pet microchipped? Would you like pre surgical blood work done on your pet to make sure that their body can handle the anesthesia? All of these are extra options, especially when it comes to a spay or neuter. Each one does hold its benefits, but we do not force anyone to take them. The two we most commonly ask about, are pain medication and a cone. Pain medication so that your pet does not have to endure any pain while in its initial healing phase and a cone to make sure that when your pet inevitably grooms him/herself they do not open the area, thus needing a surgical repair. That is it! Clear as day! We also make sure that when going over these options with our owners, they understand how each of them works and why we ask about them. Lets just go off of a small female dog example here. We have gone over all of our extra surgical options. The original value may be roughly $90. This is for a simple, scalpel and suture surgery. The owner has declined our two highly recommended options of pain medication and a cone. If they had gone with both options it would have brought our total up to lets say roughly $120. The pets surgery has gone well and its now time to go home. The first night goes over well, because the pet was still probably groggy from the surgery and the owner is totally ok with everything…….well……the next night things do not go as well. We get a phone call from a very angry owner, “my pet was in a lot of pain and crying all last night, why didn’t she get pain medication???????? It also looks like the surgical area is open, but she doesn’t touch it!!!! What happened?!?!?!?!” We ask that the owner brings the pet in immediately so that we can take a look at it. We can tell by looking at the suture site that the pet has been licking the area, this is probably due to the pain that she was trying to relieve. That surgical repair is going to cost roughly $150-$200. The owner becomes outraged with us because we are just “money hungry!!!!” We explain to the owner that if she had gone with the cone and pain medication this would have not happened, but now we not only need to basically re-do the surgery and clear away any bacteria and rotten tissue from the area, we also need to make sure that she has a strong antibiotic on board, pain medication because this is going to be even more painful for her the second time and it will also take longer to heal, she will also need a cone so that this does not happen again to her. Now yes, for some that $120 may be on the higher side of what they can afford but it was definitely a lot cheaper, and would have prevented any further complications. We do not give options, especially the higher recommended ones for nothing! Some might ask why we do not put them into the package already, we again are told that if we do, we are putting things in to just make the bill higher. We are caught in any way that we approach the topic. You cannot go to a human doctor and expect any surgery to be anything close to that inexpensive, that would barely cover the medication that you go home with. Some may argue that they are just pets…….We despise that sentence!!! They are pets, they are family and they deserve the best care possible. Pets are a luxury, not a necessity. If you do not have the means to make sure that your pet is taken care of in every aspect, then you shouldn’t own one. It is as simple as that! We love that there are so many pet lovers out there but unfortunately you are not doing them any good if you cannot take care of them in the best ways possible. Now let me talk about if you never had your pet spayed or neutered at all and I will continue with our small female dog in this scenario as well. She passed on the surgery with cone and pain medication for $120 because she doesn’t believe in having her pet spayed and that was just too expensive. A few years go by and we get a call that the pet is ADR and has some discharge leaking from her vulva area. We ask the owner to come in as soon as possible. Upon examination we realize that the pet has Pyometra, which means that her entire track has filled with pus and is contaminating her body. If it is not taken care of now, this pet will pass away. We now have to go in for an emergency surgery, because she is so listless and bad off we now have to add on blood work to make sure that her body can handle the surgery, antibiotics, a full spay surgery, flushing the area, pain medication, cone, and possible hospitalization with fluids. We are now looking at roughly $800+ for this surgery. And even after it is all said and done, this pet is not initially totally out of the woods. Unfortunately this amount IS far too much for some clients and they are having to make the hard and devastating decision to euthanize their pet.
Now I know that I have ranted for far too long, but this is something that we as Veterinary Professionals are very passionate about. We only want what is best for these animals. We know that funds are tight in this economy but again, we also know that pets are a luxury. Please Please Please make sure that you are spaying and neutering your pets!!! That $120 for that pet would have not only kept her healthy after looking at both reasons 2 & 3 but it also keeps the potential for other pets to not be brought into such a rough situation by also avoiding reason 1. Our goal is to keep your pets healthy!!!!!
We are not money hungry, we need money to pay the bills that keep our equipment running, the roof over our clinic to keep your pets healthy, the medication to make them feel better, and the staff to love each one of them as their own!