Spay and Neuter
To make sure none of our animals are ever used for breeding, all Underdog pets must be spayed or neutered before we will consider adopting out.
This guide will review how to get them ready for their surgery day, what to expect, and how to help them recover.
Are we there yet?
We're always eager to get our animals ready for adoption, and making sure they're altered is a big part of that. But getting spayed or neutered is a major surgery! These are the milestones we're looking for before we can get them altered:
Little Regina showing off her 2 pound mark! She's ready for spay!
Weight: The minimum weight for spay or neuter is 2 pounds. Sometimes we even like to see them bigger than that, and some vets have higher weight restrictions.
Health: Surgery is a huge stressor, and physical recovery can take a lot out of a little kitten or puppy. If they're not completely healthy, or cleared by a vet for surgery, we have to wait until they've recovered. Usually that means waiting for URIs to clear, immune systems to seem robust, and energy levels to be normal. Please alert us if you notice your foster's health decline before their surgery- while all animals get a physical exam prior to being put under anesthesia, symptoms sometimes are inconsistent. We'd hate to put an animal at risk by putting them through surgery while sick.
Appointments: Unfortunately, the vet industry has been massively impacted by COVID, and finding spay or neuter appointments isn't always easy. We are very fortunate to partner with a few organizations who work to get us in quickly, but we are completely at their mercy as far as their staffing levels and availability. Please be patient as we work to find surgery appointments!
The night before
We made it! It's the night before the big surgery day, and it's time to prepare your foster for their procedure.
Step one: fasting
Remove ALL food (wet and dry) after 10 PM the night before their procedure. Water is okay
(Why? While under anesthesia, and empty tummy is safer. Since they'll have a "trach tube" inserted to help them breathe, we want to make sure they don't have anything to regurgitate and effect their breathing)
Step two: keep fasting!
DO NOT give breakfast the morning of, no matter how much your foster demands otherwise.
Step three: pack it up
Get your foster ready for pick up (or drop off if you're very kindly bringing them to us). Place cats in their own carrier (Underdog should have provided you with one carrier for each cat prior to surgery- let us know if you need more). If you have multiple cats, label the carrier with who is who (a piece of tape and a sharpie usually does the trick)
Dogs should have their leash and collar.
Alum Azumi on the way to spay!
Step four: prep for their return
While your foster is out, make sure their space is all set for their return. They'll be really out of it, sometimes still loopy on drugs. Make sure you've got their crate ready for dogs, and for cats, make sure you have a small space to keep them confined and limit activity. Let us know ASAP if there's anything that comes up that changes your availability to take them back after surgery.
If you have any thoughts about foster failing and adopting your foster....speak now or forever hold your peace! Once they're recovered from surgery, we list for adoption!!
Coming home after surgery
Follow these steps to help them recover after they come back from spay or neuter.
Keep cats in their carriers. They may be drunken or disoriented from the anesthesia, and would most likely benefit from some quiet time in the carrier in a dark quiet space.
Dogs should go straight to their crates for recovery.
Give your foster time to recover alone from the stress of transport, anesthesia, and surgery. They may be more prone to biting or scratching from heightened stress or disorientation.
A small meal
Your foster will have been given a small snack after surgery at the vet, and can get a half sized meal with you. If they don't eat it right away, don't worry. The stress or nausea may have put them off their food. Let us know if they're not back to eating by the next morning (UNLESS they are a kitten or puppy- the need their blood sugar to stay up and they need to eat. Let us know if they do not).
If they eat their food and don't throw it up, you can give them the second half before bed.
George and Toby in the "Cat Palace", a three tier cage used to limit their space during recovery and behavioral rehab.
Mellow rocking some pajamas to keep herself from scratching herself raw.
Keep cats confined to a small space. If they still go crazy playing with a littermate, consider separating them, or contact Underdog for a large crate or cage during recovery.
Dogs should stay in their crates with "business" oriented leashed walks. No over exuberant play, wrestling with siblings, fetch, running, etc.
Continue restricting activity for at least a week post surgery.
Unless we have particular concerns, we don't provide a cone to all animals following spay or neuter. If you notice they are not leaving their incisions alone, or have concerns that they'll lick/scratch when you're asleep, let us know and we can provide a cone or ways to prevent self- trauma.
Cones can be distressing- if you notice your foster is unwilling to eat, try removing the cone and supervising them. When they're done eating, replace the cone.
While some disorientation/drunkeness/general "out of it" is normal, you know your foster best. If you feel they're "off" for too long, let us know and we'd be happy to check them out.
Your foster just went through a very invasive process! Here's what you can expect, what's normal, and what's concerning:
Anesthetics can make your foster a bit loopy. You may see some stumbling, huge pupils, and general disorientation.
If they don't seem to return to normal by the next morning, let us know.
It's normal for their appetite to be a bit off from the drugs. They get offered a "snack" after surgery to offset the fasting. Give them a small (1/2 portion) meal. If they keep it down, you can offer the other half before you go to bed for the evening.
To help the animal breathe during the procedure and monitor their oxygen intake, animals are intubated and have a tube down their throat. This can sometimes give them a mild "cough". If it seems to get worse instead of better, let us know, as this could be a sign of other issues.
Even on males, sometimes they'll get their belly shaved for a little tattoo to help easily indicate that they've been altered in the future.
It's normal for there to be a bit of discomfort or sensitivity near the incision. But if they seem extremely reactive or unable to leave it alone, let us know ASAP
As it heals, the incision may get itchy. If your foster is licking or kicking/scratching, they may need the cone of shame or other ways to keep them from self-traumatizing.
Female animals will have an incision on their abdomen. This may get red, bruised, or swollen, and may have some very mild bloody discharge. However, if it seems really swollen, extremely painful, has green discharge, or opened ("dehisced") let us know ASAP.
Male animals will have an incision on their scrotum, usually with the surrounding area shaved, so their little scrotum will seem very pronounced. This will shrink over time. The incision should remain closed, free of discharge or excessive pain.
Normal vs Not Normal
Female animals will have an incision on their abdomen. This may get red, bruised, or swollen, and may have some very mild clear/blood tinged discharge.
The swelling and redness may turn to "old blood", a more brownish bruising around the incision.
If the redness and swelling doesn't go down over time, but instead gets hot and firm, this can be a sign of an issue with the healing process. Let us know ASAP.
Male animals will have an incision on or near the scrotum. The area may be shaved, bruised, or mildly swollen.
A few old school vets will opt not to fully close the scrotal incision. This is fine, as long is it remains clean, clear of signs of infection.
Sometimes: a round bump may appear around the incision. This may be a normal reaction of the skin to the suture material.
However, if they're playing too hard, they may herniate or need other repair if they've affected the healing process. Send a picture if you're concerned about the healing process after surgery.
The images below may be disturbing to some.