20 Aug Gonads to Nonads – Why Spaying & Neutering is Important to Your Pet’s Health
Jellybean and Bruiser would like to remind pet parents about the importance of spaying and neutering our furry companions.
Many pet owners are already aware of the importance of sterilizing our pets to help prevent unwanted pregnancies (therefore reducing stray animal overpopulation), as well as minimizing unwanted behaviours such as marking, and aggression. However, spaying and neutering also come with a multitude of meaningful medical benefits and ultimately can extend our pets’ lifespans.
Recently, Mountainside has had two patients that would like to share their stories.
Bruiser came to Mountainside after 24 hours of vomiting, difficulty breathing, and straining to urinate. On physical exam, we were able to palpate a very distended bladder, and his bloodwork showed elevated kidney values, which is consistent with poor urine outflow. Radiographs and ultrasound lead to Bruiser’s diagnosis of an enlarged prostate, likely secondary to Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) and secondary inflammation (prostatitis).
The prostate sits in close proximity to the urinary tract, so urethral obstruction can occur if the prostate becomes too large. When the body is unable to get rid of metabolic waste products through urine, there is a back-pressure effect on the kidneys causing these products to accumulate in the blood and cause the pet to become quite sick, which is likely the cause of Bruiser’s clinical presentation. Interestingly, Bruiser was cryptorchid, which means his testicles were not fully descended. He was neutered and one of his testicles had a suspicious growth which was sent for biopsy which revealed a Sertoli cell tumour.
Thankfully, these tumours are typically benign. Following neutering, the hormonal source has been removed which can allow the prostate to reduce in size therefore helping Bruiser to urinate more freely.
Bruiser recovered incredibly and has been doing well at home since.
Jellybean came to Mountainside 2 days after Bruiser, following several days of inappetence and vomiting. On physical exam, we noted that she had a high fever, and she was quickly diagnosed with a condition called pyometra (“womb” infection) following bloodwork, radiographs and ultrasound. Pyometra is a hormonal-mediated condition in unspayed females complicated by a bacterial infection.
Once the uterine lining is compromised, the uterus can accumulate uterine secretions and pus, which can then lead to a severe infection. If left untreated, this infection can quickly progress to shock and death.
Luckily, Jellybean underwent successful emergency surgery with us, after which she recovered beautifully and has been doing very well since. Although similar to a spay procedure, pyometra surgery can be a much more complicated and higher risk surgery.
Our team would like to remind you that although there are an increasing number of non-veterinary sources and opinions on ‘whether to’ or ‘when to’ spay or neuter, listening to the medical advice from your veterinarian is in the best interest of your pet’s health.
Spaying protects females from pyometra, and spaying at an early age reduces the risk of mammary tumours (both benign and malignant), particularly in cats. Neutering protects males from testicular tumours (both benign and malignant), and also reduces the risk of prostatic issues.
Both spaying and neutering have also been shown to protect against other forms of cancer that are not necessarily related to our animal’s reproductive tracts.
Of course, no two pets are the same and with that, medical recommendations may also vary. Depending on the health status or even breed of your pet, a veterinarian may recommend earlier or later sterilization.
Conclusively, bringing your pet into your regular veterinarian, developing a vet-patient-client relationship, and following the medical advice of a vet will keep both you and your pet happy and healthy!
Author: Cheryl Linaksita
Editor: Dr. Tomas Homer