Dog and cat hanging out

Spay and Neuter For Cats and Dogs

Spaying or neutering your dog or cat is one of the most important decisions you can make for their preventive health care. Dog and cat neutering and spaying have numerous health-related and behavioral benefits for your pet that can also improve your lives together.

Petco offers affordable spaying and neutering for cats and dogs at our full-service pet hospitals. Check out veterinary services provided by Petco to book an appointment.

A Vet checking out a happy dog.

Benefits Of Spaying And Neutering

There are numerous health-related reasons to spay or neuter your dog or cat.

Spay surgery can significantly decrease the risk of mammary cancer and uterine cancer—which are malignant in 50% of dogs and 90% of cats—and eliminates the risk of mastitis from nursing. There is a reduction in the risk of mammary tumors compared with un-spayed dogs. Spaying also eliminates the risk of pregnancy complications like spotting, false pregnancy and pyometra—an infection in the uterus that requires emergency intervention. You can further reduce the chance of your female pets contracting these diseases by taking them to Petco to be spayed before their first heat cycle.

There are a few vital reasons for neutering your dog or cat. Neutered males are at a reduced risk of prostate problems and have no chance of testicular cancer. Neutered cats generally live twice as long as intact cats. Neutering can also reduce aggressive behavior that would otherwise result in fights and injuries and sexual behavior that can result in sexually transmitted diseases.

Spay surgery from Petco can eliminate heat cycle-related issues in cats like howling and scratching, as well as messy stains and protective aggression over their litter from both cats and dogs.

Neutering helps regulate the hormones of your dog or cat and can alleviate issues like mood changes, aggressive behavior and hyperactivity, as well as helping your pets remain more focused. Dog and cat neutering can also help prevent spraying or marking territory with urine, fighting and escaping your home to search for females in heat—which can lead to injuries from wandering into the street. Males may also be less likely to engage in socially embarrassing sexual behavior like mounting other dogs, inanimate objects and humans. Cat and dog neutering at a younger age can also help reduce these social and behavioral problems.

Affordable pet neuter and spay procedures are now widely available at your neighborhood Petco’s veterinary hospital, and you have the added benefit of saving money on hospital bills for animal pregnancy and the costs of taking care of a litter. According to the ASPCA, around 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters around the country every year, and many are not rescued or adopted. Spaying and neutering your pets helps reduce these numbers, and reduced capacities help give workers a better chance to find homes for more of these cats and dogs.

A Vet checking out a happy dog.

How Neutering And Spaying Works

Our knowledgeable veterinarians neuter cats and dogs by providing them an anesthetic and then surgically removing the testicles—also called an orchiectomy. An incision is made near or through the scrotal sac, and the testicles are removed. The operation sterilizes the cat or dog and stops the production of male hormones. Dog and cat neutering is an outpatient surgery and a commonly performed procedure that only takes a matter of minutes. Cat neutering can take as little as 2 minutes, while dog neutering can take between 5 and 30 minutes, depending on their size and age. Both cats and dogs should be able to return home from Petco the same day, with cats usually behaving normally the next day and dogs in a few days.

Spay surgery is slightly more involved than neuter surgery. The female cat or dog receives general anesthesia, and an incision is made in the abdomen to remove the ovaries and uterus. The operation typically takes 15 to 20 minutes for cats and 20 to 90 minutes for dogs, depending on whether they are in heat. The procedure can be more painful for female dogs, so pain medication is administered to mitigate discomfort.

When To Spay Or Neuter Your Pets

It is generally best to perform dog or cat neutering or spaying when animals are young and healthy. Healthy pets can be sterilized as young as 8 weeks if they weigh more than 2 pounds, but dogs are commonly spayed or neutered anywhere from 2 to 9 months. Most shelters will perform cat and dog neutering and spaying as close to 8 weeks old as possible so the pet can be adopted into their forever home as soon as possible.

How To Take Care Of Your Pets Post-Surgery

Following neuter or spay surgery at Petco, your pet will need time to recover. This helps them avoid complications that can require further treatment. Here are some tips to help your cat or dog through their recovery period:

A Vet checking out a happy dog.
  • Make sure your cat or dog refrains from strenuous activity—including running and jumping— for at least two weeks or for as long as instructed by your veterinarian.
  • Find your pet a quiet place indoors to rest, free of other animals that can cause distractions or excitement.
  • Avoid bathing your pet for at least 10 days following the operation.
  • Check the incision and stitches daily to ensure that the incision is healing and not infected.
  • Prevent your cat or dog from licking the incision, as this can cause infection. You veterinarian may recommend using a recovery cone.
  • Follow any instructions on administering medication or other at-home care from your veterinarian.

If you see any redness, swelling, discharge, popped stitches or an open wound, or notice any lethargy, decreased appetite or diarrhea, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

How Much Does It Cost?

Neuter and spay surgeries are medical procedures, so pet parents can worry that these operations cost a lot. While this might once have been true, medical technology and training for these surgeries have advanced to the point that the cost to spay or neuter a dog or cat is generally very affordable. At Petco, our full-service veterinary hospitals contain all the equipment necessary to perform the procedure conveniently and easily. Due to the slight differences in weight between breeds, and unique needs of your pet such as pre-surgical blood work, the cost may vary. Follow up with your hospital for an accurate estimate for your pet.

Common Myths

While altering procedures are standard options for today's pet parents, there is still a lot of misinformation about neutering and spaying. Concern about the effects can discourage some pet parents from scheduling the surgery. Here are a few of the most common myths:

  • It will make my pet fat and lazy Unaltered dogs and cats can still be overweight or have low energy, which can be caused by overfeeding, disease or a lack of exercise. The removal of sexual hormones can resolve some behavioral or energy issues through simple, affordable pet neutering and spaying. Keeping your pet active and on an appropriate healthy diet in suitable portions is the best way to avoid weight gain.
  • I should wait until my pet is a certain age. While there is newer research showing some developmental benefits to postponing spaying and neutering until your pet is done growing, in many cases these do not outweigh the risks of accidental breeding, unwanted behaviors and cancer later in life. Discuss the best time to spay or neuter your pet with your veterinarian.
  • My pet is too old Your pets are rarely too old for cat or dog neutering or spay surgery. Unless your veterinarian finds a health condition that would complicate surgery, your dog or cat can benefit from these procedures at almost any age.
  • Children should experience pet birth While the promise of tiny, adorable offspring is appealing, many things can go wrong during delivery. You can lose the mother pet or some of the litter. Birth time can be unpredictable and can take place late at night or when children are at school. Finding homes for a whole litter is a demanding task, and this is how many animals eventually end up in shelters.
  • It's too expensive Compared to the costs involved in animal births, altering your pets is quite affordable. Pet neutering and spaying can be performed at our full-service pet hospitals with vet services—many of which offer affordable dog neutering, cat neutering, dog spaying and cat spaying. Some of our stores even offer special promotions with reduced costs on certain weekends or days of the week.