Getting your pet neutered can be a daunting prospect. Dr. Mychajlonka, also known as Dr. Mych – a veterinarian at Las Vegas’s own Craig Road Animal Hospital, in a follow up to his previous post on spaying your pet, discusses what the various terms and options mean, what the impact on cost these options can have, and how to choose what is best for your pet.
By Kurt Mychajlonka, DVM
Male cats and dogs should have their reproductive abilities removed if they are not going to be bred. The correct term for this is neutering. Neutering, like spaying in female pets, can have significant health and behavioral benefits in addition to also helping to prevent the unexpected arrival of kittens, or puppies, which can add to the homeless pet problem.
For most neuters, the procedure consists of removing the testicles from the scrotum. In cats, this is particularly simple which is why cat neuters tend to be lower in price than cat spays or dog neuters.
There is a condition called Cryptorchid which can complicate neutering a pet. Cryptorchid is a congenital defect that means that one or both of the testacies has not descended into the scrotum. This can complicate the neutering surgery and can have health implications for the pet if the pet is not neutered. Testicles can become cancerous if they are exposed to the constant additional heat inside the body. Therefore, even though cryptorchid procedures can be more expensive, it is important to go ahead with the procedure for the long term health of your dog or cat.
With some cryptorchid dogs and cats, the testicle(s) have descended most of the way and have “got stuck” in the inguinal canal. Each case is different, but usually with one or two testicles stuck in the inguinal canal the veterinary surgeon can remove them in a similar manner to a conventional neuter. This may take slightly longer so most veterinarians do charge an additional fee.
However, with some cryptorchid pets the un-descended testicle(s) are in the abdomen. Traditionally, this has meant a long, complicated, and expensive exploratory surgery, with a large incision, and with the veterinarian looking throughout the abdomen for the rouge testicle. With laparoscopy there is an alternative. The procedure is similar to a lap spay, with the veterinary surgeon making two mini incisions and then using a video camera to look for the testicle in the abdomen. Because of the smaller incisions associated with laparoscopic procedures there is less post operative pain than with an exploratory which requires a large incision the length of the abdomen. This in turn leads to a faster recovery time. There is also less need for restricting activities. Because of the additional equipment and people required for a laparoscopic procedure, they tend to be more expensive than lower cost options; however, with cryptorchid procedures they can actually be lower in price due to better visualization and not having to close a very large incision.
There are, of course, other things to think about when neutering your pet – regardless of whether your dog or cat is cryptorchid or not. Most veterinary practices will offer different options, some of which will be included and some which are not, and therefore it is important when making comparisons to make sure you are complaining like for like. All anesthetic procedures have some inherent risk – most of the items below are about minimizing these risks.
Preoperative Blood Work
Just like with humans, blood tests are a great way of giving a general snapshot of the health of your dog or cat before any procedure. This becomes particularly important when your pet is over five years of age as that is when problems with the liver and kidneys can appear but have no external symptoms. Liver and kidney function are important because those organs metabolize the anesthesia used in most procedures for dogs and cats. In order to keep a low cost option for owners we offer preoperative blood work as an optional extra depending on the age and medical history of your pet.
An intravenous catheter allows fluids to given to a patient during the procedure – keeping their blood pressure up and keeping the patient hydrated. Additionally, an I.V. Catheter gives the doctor direct access to a vein to give an intravenous injection in an emergency. At Craig Road Animal Hospital we feel that this is so important that we do not have an I.V. Catheter as an optional extra but included in the price of every surgery – including low cost spays and neuters.
Injections and tablets to go home, after a neuter, are all about controlling the amount of discomfort your pet experiences post-op (after the operation). Even with laparoscopic procedures there is a certain amount of post operative discomfort so some kind of control is always recommended. At Craig Road, we do not feel that pain control is optional and so it is included in the cost of neutering.
A pet microchip is a small device that is implanted under the skin that is embedded with a unique number. When this number is registered with your contact information it provides an easy way for veterinarians and rescue organizations to reunite lost dogs and cats with their owners. Microchips can be implanted while your pet is awake with just a small amount of discomfort; however, when your pet is being spayed or neutered is a great time to do it as your pet will feel nothing.
For many people spaying or neuter their pet is the first veterinary surgical procedure they have ever been involved with, if indeed not the first surgical procedure period! It can be confusing and scary – our job is to answer your questions and give you all the information to make an informed choice about what is right for you and your pet. If you are concerned that your pet might be cryptorchid, or if you have any other questions about spaying or neutering your dog or cat please feel free to ask any of our staff next time you are at Craig Road Animal Hospital, give us a call or email, or post in the comments below.