Programs & Services

Spay/Neuter Clinic Frequently Asked Questions

Spay Cllinic Surgeon Operating

Q.  Why does my pet need to fast before surgery?

A.  Drugs used for anesthesia may make an animal nauseous.  It is very important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia.  If any animal vomits during these times, the risk of inhaling food into the lungs and causing aspiration pneumonia significantly increases.  Please withhold food for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery.

Q.  Why do we need to extract baby teeth?

A.  Most baby teeth fall out by the time an animal is six months of age and do not require extraction.  But if a baby tooth is retained after the adult tooth has come in more than half way, it should be extracted so that it does not interfere with the adult tooth coming in or cause hair and debris to wrap around the retained tooth.

Q.  Do you fix inguinal hernias?

A.  Inguinal hernias are caused by an abnormally large inguinal canal allowing abdominal organs to fall through this opening.  Entrapped organs can be the urinary bladder, intestines, uterus, or fat.  Depending on the duration of the hernia and what organ is involved, these surgeries can be very complicated and take a long time.  These surgeries are not done at the Sacramento SPCA and should be performed at your regular, full-service veterinary hospital.

Q.  Can you fix “Cherry Eyes” at the same time as a spay/neuter surgery?

A.  “Cherry Eye” surgery involves tacking down an inflamed and prolapsed third eyelid gland.  The surgery is very delicate and is not routinely done at the Sacramento SPCA.  Recurrence is common and the animal may require multiple surgeries and follow-ups, so we recommend any Cherry Eye surgery be done at your regular veterinary clinic.

Q.  How do you know if my animal needs to be treated for tapeworms?

Tapeworms can be seen most readily when an animal is under anesthesia because of the relaxed anal sphincter.  If you approve, we can treat for these worms with an injection of de-wormer while your animal is with us at the SPCA for surgery.  No treatment will be administered if no worms are seen.  It is very important that you do flea control concurrently with tapeworm treatment because fleas are a necessary part of the tapeworm life cycle.

Q.  Why don’t you do surgery on animals older than seven years old?

A.  Pets that are seven years of age or older are considered geriatric and are at a higher risk for complications under anesthesia.  It is important that they receive a geriatric work-up that includes a full physical exam and pre-operative blood work to screen for any conditions such as liver or kidney disease that would affect how anesthetic drugs are cleared from the body.  It is also important that they receive more advanced monitoring during anesthesia that would be available through a full-service veterinary hospital.

Q.  Is anesthesia safe for my pet?

A.  At the Sacramento SPCA, we strive to minimize any risk of anesthesia by examining each animal prior to surgery, using the lowest dose of anesthetic required, and monitoring throughout anesthesia.  We are proud of our record of a very low surgical or anesthetic complication rate (<1%), but understand that there is still an inherent risk of anesthetic complication with any survery.

Q.  Is there any advantage to waiting until the animal has had a litter before spaying?

A.  No, there is no advantage to letting your pet have a litter.  However, there are plenty of advantages to having your pet spayed or neutered early.  These advantages include decreasing the chances of mammary tumors later in life, decreasing the chance of cystic ovaries and uterine infections, decreasing the desire to roam the neighborhood, decreasing the incidence of prostate cancer later in life, helping prevent spraying and marking, and also decreasing the surplus of unwanted puppies and kittens that end up in shelters.

Q.  Why doesn’t the SPCA fix umbilical hernias that are not reducible?

A.  Umbilical hernias that do not push in are considered a cosmetic problem only.  There is almost no chance of a loop of bowel or other vital organ being entrapped in the hernia sac, so we do not routinely perform this procedure.

Q.  Are there any sutures?

A.  There are usually no external skin sutures.  We use absorbable sutures underneath the skin.  These will dissolve and do not need to be removed.  Suture reactions do occasionally occur, and are seen as “bubbles” developing on either side of the incision.  Please contact us for a recheck if that occurs.  For some surgeries, there may be skin sutures and we will let you know to come back in 7 to 10 days to have them removed.

Q.  Do you use pain medications?

A.  Animals are given pain medications before and after surgery that should manage post-op pain for the first 24 hours.  After surgery, oral pain medication may be given on a case-by-case basis.  If your pet is showing signs of discomfort or pain, please contact the SPCA Spay/Neuter Clinic or your regular veterinarian about additional pain medications.

Q.  Can I give over-the-counter pain medications to my pet after surgery?

A.  Human over-the-counter pain medications may cause serious side-effects if given to animals.  Acetominophen (Tylenol) is toxic for animals, especially cats, and many pain medications (such as aspirin) will inhibit blood clotting and should not be given to pets after surgery.  Please contact us if you feel your pet needs pain medications.

Q.  How long will it take for my animal to start eating normally again?

A.  Most animals will start eating normally by the day after surgery.  If your pet does not start eating after 24 hours, please contact us.  For rabbits, it is very important that they start eating and producing stool day of surgery.  If a rabbit is not eating by the day following surgery, please bring him or her back for a recheck.

Q.  How much vomiting or diarrhea is normal?

A.  It is common for pets to have some GI upset after surgery.  The vomiting or diarrhea should subside within 24 hours.  You may start by giving small amounts of water the evening of surgery.  If your pet keeps the water down, then feed about 1/3 of their normal meal.  Your pet may not have an appetite the first day.  If your pet vomits, then don’t feed again until the next morning.  Do not change your pet’s diet and do not give table scraps.  Try a bland diet such as boiled chicken or low-fat cottage cheese and rice if vomiting and/or diarrhea continues longer than a day.

Q.  What if my pet is licking at the incision?

A.  It is very important that your pet does not lick his or her incision or it will not heal.  If the incision becomes infected or opens up, your pet may require emergency surgery.  You can purchase an E-collar (a cone-like collar) from the SPCA or your regular veterinarian to prevent licking.  Check the incision several times a day and make sure it is not red, swollen, or producing any discharge.  If the incision gets wet or dirty, you may clean it by dabbing a small amount of hydrogen peroxide and then patting dry.  You may apply a small amount of triple antibiotic ointment on the incision if the redness is mild.  Contact the SPCA right away if the incision looks red, swollen, oozing, or appears to be opening up.

Q.  What is my cat scratching at his/her mouth?

A.  Cats may react to facial or oral pain, stress, or any irritants in the mouth by drooling excessively or clawing at the face and mouth.  Sometimes drugs and anesthetic gas could leave a “bad taste” in the mouth causing cats to claw at their mouth.  Do not allow your cat to continue as clawing can cause severe injury to the mouth.  Place a cone-like collar around your cat’s neck so that they cannot continue to claw.  Contact the SPCA Spay/Neuter Clinic or your veterinarian to examine the cat’s mouth if this behavior continues for more than a day.

Q.  Why do we need to use shredded paper in the litter box after a cat neuter surgery?

A.  There are no stitches for a cat neuter surgery, and the incisions on the scrotum are allowed to heal on their own.  It is important that cat litter does not stick on your cat’s incision when he is using the litter box for the first few days after surgery.  If the cat will not use the litter box because of the shredded paper, try getting “Yesterday’s News” or another pelleted type cat litter which will also be safe to use.