Can You Spay Or Neuter an Older Pet?
With the new year, it is always time to make resolutions. One of these may be to help control the pet overpopulation by having your pet spayed or neutered to prevent any unwanted pregnancies. If a client asks me what my opinion is, I would definitely recommend to spay or neuter your pet – even if the pet is older and reaching geriatric years in age.
By neutering your male pet, you will be able to curb its behavior that has been influenced by the male hormones such as testosterone. Neutering may help lessen aggressiveness that is stimulated by the presence of female hormones. It will also help reduce and prevent prostate and testicular cancer that can be seen in older male pets that have not been neutered. Neutering may also help prevent spraying in male tomcats. I want to dispel any myth that neutering will make your pet lazy or cause obesity.
When we spay female pets, we are performing what we call an ovariohysterectomy. This is the removal of the uterus and the ovaries. Females can carry even more serious risks if they are un-spayed, which is why you would want to spay even if they are older. Un-spayed females can develop a condition called a pyometra tha is essentially an infection of the uterus that continues to manifest itself. If left untreated, your pet will probably die as a result of the uterus rupturing and causing an abdominal infection, so these are treated as an emergency. Spaying is indicated at this time, however the surgery is a lot more complicated and complications can arise due to the toxicity that the infection is causing. Spaying will also help reduce the risk and incidence of mammary cancer in pets. This is based on the lack of female hormones that were produced from the ovaries that were removed during the surgery.
Because of the hormones, female dogs and cats have their estrus cycles about every 6 to 8 months. During that time, their female organs can swell and create a discharge. These scents that are given off can attract males. So not only are you risking pregnancies but also complications that can follow.
Pet owners tend to worry that their older pet may not handle the anesthesia or surgery well, but pre-surgical bloodwork can help reduce or alleviate the issue with the anesthesia and make it as safe as possible.
Any time a patient undergoes a surgery, there is a risk, albeit a slight risk. The benefits from spaying or neutering clearly outweigh not doing so. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic and we would be happy to answer any questions or dispel any myths that you may have heard.