Spaying is also knows as OHE or ovariohysterectomy. It is a surgical procedure that sterilizes a female dog or cat by removing the ovaries and the uterus.

Why should you spay your pet? Quite simply, spayed pets live longer, healthier lives.

Most dogs and cats that are not spayed at an early age have a high probability of developing breast cancer by the time they are fourteen. Unfortunately, many times this cancer shows up much earlier-and in most cases this cancer is malignant.

The second largest risk to unspayed dogs and cats is a life-threatening infection called pyometra. Pyometra occurs when the uterus becomes filled with infected discharge. This infection then gains access to the bloodstream leading to sepsis. Surgery and antibiotics are necessary to treat pyometra. Without surgery, pyometra rarely goes away, and often can end up being fatal.

Unspayed pets can often create quite a hassle at home. Dogs that are not spayed go into heat about every 6 months. Their heat cycles are accompanied by bloody vaginal discharge and female dogs must becompletely isolated from male dogs during each heat cycle.  Intact female dogs are quite attractive to male dogs-even males that are blocks away. So intact females cannot be left alone in the yard at all-not even for a few minutes!

Cats are seasonally polyestrous.  That means they can go into heat and stay in heat for months.  Think: In heat few days, out of heat few days, repeat.  While they don’t have appreciable discharge, cats that are in heat can be quite obnoxious-they will roll around on the floor, howl and moan all night long.  Some will even urinate in odd places (like on somebody’s pillow), all the while scheming to get out of the house to find a man, and attracting every male cat in the neighborhood to your yard.

The best time to spay dogs and cats is before their first heat cycle.  We usually recommend spaying at six months of age for both. However, for small dogs we might wait a bit longer, while we may want to spay a larger breed dog a bit earlier.

Of course, spaying your pets not only has health benefits for them, but it also helps to control the pet overpopulation crisis. Each year more unwanted kittens and puppies end up in shelters or on the streets.

At the time this was written, December 2008, the Animal Protective League in Elyria Ohio had 350 cats that needed homes!