Feeling PAW-triatic? Firework Safety Tips for Pets

Firework season can be a scary time for pets. Keep your pets safe by following these tips.

  • Exercise your pet on the morning of the holidays when you think there may be fireworks
    • This will get extra anxiety out and calm your pet down before the night begins
  • Keep pets inside and away from loud noises 
    • It’s a good idea to create a safe space where pets feel secure inside the house. Use an inner room away from windows or a crate filled with your pet’s favorite toys and bedding. Keep a light or two on and consider turning the TV or radio on for some calming background noise. If your pet hides somewhere in this safe space, allow them to do so. Do not try to coax them out, as hiding is a natural coping mechanism for animals. Make sure pets always have fresh water available
  • Leave your pets home while venturing out to loud and crowded places
    • Fido and Fluffy don’t want to go with you to your local fireworks display! Again, make sure they have a safe place to stay while you’re out
  • Pets may be tempted to run if startled by loud noises. Ensure that outdoor areas are securely fenced and your pets cannot get out of your yard
    • In case of an escape, have microchips and valid ID tags on all of your pets and make sure information is current and accurate
    • If your pet escapes during the firework show contact your local animal shelter, post online or on social media lost and found pages
  • Check with your veterinarian for additional help
    • For especially anxious pets, they may suggest a snug t-shirt to make your pet feel secure or prescribe medication to use during the holidays. If your pet is prescribed a medication, never share this with other pets or give your animal more than the recommended dose
  • Be aware that anxiety may last longer than the fireworks display
    • If your pet still seems on edge after the fireworks are over or even the next morning, continue to keep them inside and surrounded by calming things, such as their favorite treats or toys. Make sure that you’ve cleaned up any party debris before allowing your pet free reign of the yard again

Meet Our St. George Medical Director, Dr. Katie Gray, DVM

We are thrilled to introduce you to our Medical Director, Dr. Katie Gray, DVM, who oversees all medical activities in our spay, neuter, and vaccination clinic in St. George. Dr. Gray is originally from Minnesota where she graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in April 2011.  While in veterinary school she planned and implemented a humane education program for grades 1-4.  She then completed a small animal rotating internship at Texas A&M University. She moved to Oregon in 2013 and was the Medical Director at the Bend Spay and Neuter Project and practiced high volume spay/neuter for 6 years before moving to Utah in 2020.

St. George Medical Director Dr. Katie Gray poses with white dog in open field.

Additionally, Dr. Gray received training in high-volume, high-quality spay/neuter at both Emancipet in Austin, TX, and Humane Alliance in Asheville, NC.  She has directed and participated in numerous MASH spay/neuter clinics including monthly free clinics at the Warm Springs reservation in Oregon. She has three Great Pyrenees rescue dogs who are all “couch potatoes” and a one-eared rescue cat. 

In early 2022, Dr. Gray sat down with a member of our team to shed light on her goals for HSU’s St. George clinic, the current challenges she’s facing, and how HSU is working to find solutions. 

What is your overall goal and vision as the Medical Director for our new St. George clinic?

Dr. Gray: My goal is always to provide excellent patient care, ensuring that any patient (shelter, owned, and TNR cats) that comes through our doors is treated with the highest level of care and has the least stressful experience possible. In our first year of operations, we completed 3,265 spay/neuter surgeries including 360 community cat TNR surgeries and I would like to see this number continue to grow each year we are open in order to help prevent overpopulation and lessen the number of animals entering the shelters and rescues in the area. 

St. George Medical Director Dr. Katie Gray DVM hold small puppy with red eye patch and freckles over her shoulder.

Can you provide specifics on what you’d like to contribute to our St. George clinic as the Medical Director? 

Dr. Gray: I would like to contribute leadership that fosters a positive environment for our staff and for the clients and patients we serve. A strong, cohesive team is key to being able to make an impact in the community and serve as many animals as possible.

What are some of the positive aspects of the animal welfare community in St. George?

Dr. Gray: The animal welfare community in St. George, but also in the surrounding areas has been wonderful to work with! We are lucky to have so many shelters and rescues in the area that care so deeply about animals. Because of this, we have been able to make much more of an impact in the community.

What are some challenges currently facing St. George’s animal welfare community and what are some potential solutions to these challenges? 

One of the largest challenges in the area when we first got here was the ability for shelters and rescues to obtain affordable and timely spay/neuter surgeries. We were able to work with all the rescues and shelters with their schedules to provide affordable surgeries for animals on an as-needed basis as best as we can accommodate sometimes with same-day notice.

The other large challenge is that Washington County has the most pet shops of any county in all of Utah and all of them source puppies from puppy mills. Many pet shop dogs end up in shelters because of behavioral problems resulting from a lack of necessary socialization and unexpected illnesses that owners are unaware of at the time of purchase. A solution to this issue would be to pass a local or state ordinance that would ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops where they could instead showcase adoptable dogs and cats from local shelters/rescues or hold adoption events with shelters/rescues in their shop space as well as selling pet supplies to the adopters.

St. George Medical Director Dr. Katie Gray DVM hold small puppy with pointy ears in her fleece jacket.

What do you enjoy about living in St. George? 

St. George is a beautiful city and I love being so close to so many national parks. My husband and I regularly visit and hike (with our dogs) on many different trails. 

Where do you hope our spay, neuter, and vaccine St. George clinic will be in 2-3 years?

I hope that we are continuing to provide our current services as well as offering some new services for affordable prices in order to provide even more access to basic care for animals in the community.

What do you enjoy most about working with and supporting animals?

I was one of those animal people that said I was going to be a veterinarian since I was 2 or 3 years old. I love working with animals and being able to help in any way that I can. I have a passion for shelter work and TNR as it allows me to take care of animals that no one else may be looking out for and hopefully improving their lives and helping to find them homes. 

Humane Society of Utah Offers Hot Weather Safety Tips For Pets

Contact: Guinn Shuster                        
Email: guinn@utahhumane.org   

News Release
Humane Society of Utah Offers Hot Weather Safety Tips For Pets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2022

News Release
Humane Society of Utah Offers Hot Weather Safety Tips For Pets

Murray – UT, May 20, 2022 – As the temperatures rise, it is important that pets and pet owners alike take precautions to stay safe and healthy in the summer heat. While many animals spend quite a bit of their time outdoors, some extra precautions are necessary this time of year to prevent heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and other hot-weather ailments.

The Humane Society suggests the following hot weather tips this summer season:

  • Keep pets indoors more often during extreme heat, do not leave them outside all day
  • Make sure pets have a cool place to retreat to in the yard, such as a shady spot. Keep in mind that some outdoor dog houses can be hotter than the outdoor temps
  • Cool and fresh water should be available to pets at all times, both indoors and outdoors
  • If the asphalt is too hot for your hands and feet, it is too hot for your pets. Place your hand on the sidewalk for 10 seconds to test the temperature
  • Check pets for ticks, foxtails, and grass seeds following outdoor activity
  • Ensure that your yard is free of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats such as lilies, sago palms, and rhododendrons, and be careful with the use of insecticides and weed killers, which may be poisonous for your pets
  • If your pet wants to share your plate at a summer BBQ, know what foods are not pet-safe, such as onions, avocados, olives, garlic, grapes, cooked bones, and alcohol
  • Do not leave pets unattended near water– not all pets can swim! Limit the amount of pool water your pets drink, chlorine and other chemicals can be dangerous, and rinse your pets off after taking a swim in chlorinated or salty water.
  • If you have a brachycephalic (short-nosed, flat-faced) breed such as a pug, persian cat, or any type of bulldog, know that their short noses cause them to overheat quicker than other animals. Overweight and older pets are also at higher risk for heatstroke, so keep these furry friends in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible
  • Do not leave pets unattended in vehicles! Doing so is a major risk for heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and heat-related death.

Have the UltiMUTT Summer: Hot Weather Pet Safety

As the temperatures rise, it is important that pets and pet owners alike take precautions to stay safe and healthy in the summer heat. While many animals spend quite a bit of their time outdoors, some extra precautions are necessary this time of year to prevent heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and other hot-weather ailments.

Small white scruffy dogs runs across grass on a bright sunny day with tongue out panting and tail wagging.

The Humane Society of Utah suggests the following hot weather tips to keep your pets panting happily (and not heat-ily) this summer season:

  • Keep pets indoors more often during extreme heat, do not leave them outside all-day
  • Make sure pets have a cool place to retreat to in the yard, such as a shady spot. Keep in mind that some outdoor dog houses can be hotter than the outdoor temps
  • Cool and fresh water should be available to pets at all times, both indoors and outdoors
  • If the asphalt is too hot for your hands and feet, it is too hot for your pets. Place your hand on the sidewalk for 10 seconds to test the temperature
  • Provide pet-safe frozen treats to help your animals cool down
  • Make sure your pet is current on all their vaccinations, especially if they are going to be in close contact with other animals
  • Check pets for ticks, foxtails, and grass seeds following outdoor activity
  • Ensure that your yard is free of plants which are toxic to dogs and cats such as lilies, sago palms, and rhododendrons, and be careful with use of insecticides and weed killers, which may be poisonous to your pets
  • Make use of pet-safe sunscreens and bug repellents
  • Avoid leaving windows open around unattended pets. Even with a screen, there is a risk your pet could fall out or jump through the opening
  • If your pet wants to share your plate at a summer BBQ, know what foods are not pet-safe, such as onions, avocados, olives, garlic, grapes, cooked bones, and alcohol. 
  • Do not leave pets unattended near water– not all pets can swim! Limit the amount of pool water your pets drink, chlorine and other chemicals can be dangerous, and rinse your pets off after taking a swim in chlorinated or salty water. If your pet loves to cool off with a dip, consider investing in a pet lifejacket.
  • If you have a brachycephalic (short-nosed, flat-faced) breed such as a pug, Persian cat, or any type of bulldog, know that their short noses cause them to overheat quicker than other animals. Overweight and older pets are also at higher risk for heat stroke, so keep these furry friends in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
  • Do not leave pets unattended in vehicles! Doing so is a major risk for heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat-related death. Even if the vehicle is on and air-conditioning is running, leaving pets unsupervised can lead to other emergencies such as the animal accidentally shifting a gear or engine failure.
  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
  • Increased heat and respiratory rate
  • Drooling
  • Fatigue
  • Mild weakness, stupor, or collapse
  • Seizures
  • Bloody diarrhea or vomit
  • An elevated body temperature over 104 degrees

What’s in a name? Pet Resource Center

Pet resource center in murray
Front entrance view to the Pet Resource Center at the Humane Society of Utah.

You may have (or may not) have noticed that we no longer refer to ourselves as an “animal shelter” in our recent communications and are now calling ourselves a “Pet Resource Center.” In this three-part blog series, we’ll explain why.

In the last few years, the “Pet Resource Center” model has become widely adopted by animal welfare leaders across the country to improve upon the traditional animal sheltering approach. The term resource center comes from human welfare services and describes the way they provide a safety net beyond sheltering to those experiencing homelessness or in danger of becoming homeless. This radical new shift allows for organizations like ours to focus additional efforts on supporting pet guardians in various ways, so we can, in turn, help the companion animals in our communities. 

By adopting this model at the Humane Society of Utah, we can increase our capacity to care and support struggling pet guardians to help “keep pets and people together,” as our mission states. For example, we understand that the previous two years have been challenging for many. Our community members have been affected by housing insecurities, cost of living increases, supply chain, and veterinary shortages. These challenges have made owning a beloved companion animal more difficult. In response, we’ve worked hard to support guardians affected by the pandemic through the various programs we offer at our Pet Resource Center:

Community Clinic

By providing affordable spay/neuter and vaccines services through our two Preventative Care Clinics located in St. George and Murray, our organization was able to help over 144,000 community-owned pets stay healthy in 2021. Our clinics stayed open year-round to provide 12,643 spay/neuter surgeries to help prevent the pet overpopulation problem and administered 143,904 vaccines to help stop the spread of deadly viruses.

Pet Retention Program

Our Pet Retention program aims to keep pets and owners together, when possible, by providing resources to help owners who are experiencing difficulty but wish to keep their companion animals. By supporting our community members this way, we’re also helping keep pets out of the sheltering system. In 2021, our Pet Retention program served 487 medical cases for community-owned pets. In addition, we sponsored the first free vaccination and microchip clinic in Tooele County, providing 171 cats and dogs with free preventative care.

Community Partnerships

Our Pet Resource Center also connects community members with resources to help them keep their beloved pets through partnerships with organizations like Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering. We are currently working with organizations such as The Road Home and the YWCA to provide resources, such as vaccines and general pet care supplies. Developing partnerships is one of the key ways we ensure both people and their pets get what they need and stay together.

Join us for the second part of this blog series next month as we discuss the importance of education. And the educational resources our Pet Resource Center provides through our Behavior and Humane Education departments.

RHDV-2 & Leptospirosis Vaccines Available

RHDV-2 Vaccine for Rabbits & Leptospirosis Vaccine for Dogs Available

Our affordable pet clinics in Murray, Utah and St. George, Utah are offering Leptospirosis vaccines to the public. Our Murray clinic is also offering RHDV-2 Vaccines to pet rabbits.

Dog kissing a lady

Leptospirosis has been associated with water sports in contaminated lakes and rivers, especially in tropical or temperate climates, so it can be a hazard for those who travel and do a lot of outdoor activities with their dogs.

LEPTOSPIROSIS

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by infection with Leptospira bacteria. Dogs can become infected and develop leptospirosis if they come into contact with infected urine, urine-contaminated soil, water, food or bedding; through a bite from an infected animal; by eating infected tissues or carcasses; and rarely, through breeding. It can also be passed through the placenta from the mother dog to the puppies. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread from animals to people. Infection in people can cause flu-like symptoms and can cause liver or kidney disease. Leptospirosis is more common in areas with warm climates and high annual rainfall but it can occur anywhere.

  • The vaccination requires a booster 3-4 weeks later. After the booster is given, the vaccination is effective for one year.
  • Customers do not need to schedule an appointment for vaccinations at our Murray Clinic. Appointments are recommended at our St. George clinic to make sure you have a short wait, but they accept walk-ins.
  • Dogs must be at least 8 weeks old to receive the vaccination.

The Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Vaccine is now available at our Murray, Utah clinic by appointment

rabbit

RHDV-2 in domestic rabbits has recently been documented in Salt Lake and Washington County.

RHDV-2

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease is a highly contagious, fatal disease in rabbits and is currently classified as a reportable, foreign animal disease in the United States. It has been spreading to multiple states across the Southwest since 2020. The vaccine should be fully protective 14 days after the second vaccine booster, which should be given 3 weeks after the first dose.

  • It requires an appointment in the Murray clinic. Customers can call 801-261-2919 ext 230 to schedule and need to make sure to mention upfront that they are scheduling for a rabbit (since we don’t take appointments for other pet vaccinations). Appointments will allow us to provide a lower-stress environment for rabbits.
  • Rabbits must be at least 8 weeks old to receive the vaccination.
  • The vaccination costs $40 and the USDA requires that the bunny is microchipped to receive the vaccine. We can provide the microchip implant for an additional $35. Your rabbit will need a booster (or second dose) three weeks later, which costs an additional $40.

If you have any questions about the preventative health services provided by our Affordable Clinics in Murray or St. George, please visit Clinic Locations to learn more.

What can happen when using E-collars, prong collars, choke chains on your dog?

With so many training options available, it can be hard to figure out which is the best method for you and your pet. The animal training industry remains unregulated, leading to various opinions about what methods are the “right” methods. Evidence supports the use of reward-based methods for all canine training, along with the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

Here’s why:

Scientific evidence in support of positive reinforcement-based training has been overwhelming. Studies show that positive reinforcement leads to improved welfare of companion animals, has a positive influence on the human-animal bond, and effectively achieves training goals.

  • The use of aversive-based methods and equipment, including e-collars, prong collars, choke chains, and other tools, can result in fallout, including:
    • Aggression (directed towards the handler or others)
    • Escape/avoidance behavior
    • Learned Helplessness (apathy)
    • Generalization of fear to other elements in the environment (including the handler)
  • The science of behavior across species is well-established and has been studied for decades through fields such as applied behavior analysis and animal welfare science. This field overwhelmingly proves that positive reinforcement is the most humane and effective method to teach and to modify behavior
  • Using punishment becomes habitual and easily escalates. This is not the relationship we want to promote for pet guardians in our community

In alignment with our mission to “eliminate pain, fear, and suffering in all animals,” the Humane Society of Utah chooses to use evidence-based force-free training. We want to grow the human-animal bond by increasing understanding between humans and their pets, establishing clear communication, and putting the welfare of both human and animal first.

What Breed of Dog is That?

two pictures of the same brindle mixed breed one year apart.

“What breed of dog is that?” This is one of the most common questions we hear at the Humane Society of Utah. What breed would you guess for this Utah Humane Society alum, Rosco? Rosco came to our shelter two years ago with his littermates. His family recently sent her DNA results to us, which we have shared below. 

Even the most experienced dog lovers don’t know a dog’s mixed-lineage or exact breed without a DNA test. One study found that 90 percent of a dog’s breed that was guessed by shelter staff didn’t match the predominant breed identified through DNA analysis. Another study revealed that experts seldom agree on their breed guesses, so one person’s Mastiff mix is another’s Boxer mix or Lab-hound mix.

As a result, you’ll now find most “mixed-breed” dogs on our website are labeled as small, medium, or large mixed-breed. Since most dogs who come to our shelter don’t have pedigree papers, most people may try to label them by the breeds they most closely resemble, leading adopters to make assumptions about their personalities and future behavior based on these breed guesses.

The truth is, there is a wide range of behavior, even in purebred dogs. For example, a purebred field Golden Retriever will behave differently than a purebred show or pet Golden Retriever. Now, mix three or four breeds into one dog and it’s anybody’s guess as to which personality and behavior traits will shine through. Each dog has a genetic predisposition and unique learning history that shapes its personality. This is why we encourage people to meet each dog they are interested in adopting in person instead of making assumptions based on a breed label. Treat the dog in front of you as an individual, and get to know each dog’s unique personality to see if he or she is the right fit for you!

What is Gastric Dilation-Volvulus?

Gastric Dilatation (GD) or “Bloat”

Is a condition in dogs where the stomach becomes dilated and distended due to the accumulation of gas or fluid. The abdomen is generally distended and uncomfortable, but the condition is easily treated by emptying the stomach. This is a much less serious condition than the main topic here, Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), in which the stomach fills with gas or fluid then flips on itself, trapping the gas and/or fluid inside. 

GDV happens most commonly in large and giant breed dogs especially Great Danes, Weimaraners, and German Shepherds. Deep-chested and underweight dogs are also at risk. Symptoms include a distended abdomen, abdominal pain, restlessness, excessive drooling, and most classically, unsuccessful attempts to vomit or belch. As the condition progresses, the pressure in the stomach continues to build, causing weakness, shortness of breath, and eventually shock (pale gums, low body temperature, collapse).  

The only treatment once the stomach has flipped is to surgically “unflip” the stomach and then suture it to the body wall to prevent future flipping (a procedure called Gastropexy).

As horrible and frightening as GDV can be, there are several things that dog owners can do to reduce the risk of this happening to their dog:

  • If you get a high-risk breed as a puppy, have your veterinarian perform a gastropexy at the time of spay/neuter.
  • Use a slow-feeder bowl to slow down your dogs’ eating so that they swallow less air (especially if your dog tends to inhale their food).
  • While some recommend using a raised food bowl to give the dog better access to food, it is best to feed on the floor in order to reduce swallowed air. 
  • Do not allow exercise for 30 minutes before or after a meal.
  • If you suspect your dog has bloat take them into your veterinarian right away!

Why spay or neuter your pet?

Tragically, 6-8 million homeless dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, enter animal shelters in the United States each year. Responsible pet owners can fix this problem by spaying or neutering their companion animals. Sterilizing your dog or cat helps curb the pet overpopulation crisis, protects against serious health problems, reduces unwanted behaviors associated with mating instinct, and can increase the lifespan of your beloved companion. Spaying/neutering your pet is also cost-effective. The price of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is far less than the cost of caring for a litter or medical problem later. 

The following medical and behavioral benefits are associated with spaying your female pet or neutering your male pet.

  • Your spayed female pet will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, malignant or cancerous in about 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
  • Spaying a female companion generally reduces the unwanted behaviors that may lead to owner frustration. While cycles can vary, female cats usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. To advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently. Although urine-marking is usually associated with male dogs, females may do it too.
  • Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.
  • Your neutered pet will be less likely to roam away from home. An intact male will find creative ways to escape from the house. Once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other male animals.
  • Your neutered companion may be better behaved. Your dog might be less likely to bark excessively or mount other dogs, people, and inanimate objects after he’s neutered. Some aggression problems may be avoided by early neutering. 
  • Unneutered dogs and cats are more likely to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Neutering solves 90% of all marking issues. 

As horrible and frightening as GDV can be, there are several things that dog owners can do to reduce the risk of this happening to their dog:

  • If you get a high-risk breed as a puppy, have your veterinarian perform a gastropexy at the time of spay/neuter.
  • Use a slow-feeder bowl to slow down your dogs’ eating so that they swallow less air (especially if your dog tends to inhale their food).
  • While some recommend using a raised food bowl to give the dog better access to food, it is best to feed on the floor in order to reduce swallowed air. 
  • Do not allow exercise for 30 minutes before or after a meal.
  • If you suspect your dog has bloat take them into your veterinarian right away!

Debunking spay/neuter myths and misconceptions

Will my pet become overweight or change their behavior if I spay/neuter them? No. Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to gain weight—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor his food intake. While having your pets spayed/neutered can help curb undesirable behaviors, it will not change their fundamental personalities. The procedure does not affect a pet’s intelligence or ability to learn, play, work, or hunt. The effects of neutering are largely dependent on your dog’s personality, physiology, and history. 

Will my female pet be healthier if I allow her to have one litter or go through one heat cycle?No. The opposite is true. If spayed before their first heat cycle, the risk of mammary cancer in female dogs and cats is virtually eliminated. If allowed to go through even just one heat cycle, the risk of developing mammary cancer later in life greatly increases. 

Don’t I have until at least 8 or 9 months of age before my female pet comes into heat? No. While 8 to 9 months is typical for large-breed dogs, the fact is that cats and small-breed dogs often come into heat as early as five months of age. Cats can get pregnant and go into heat as early as 4 months of age. 

Won’t my male pet be healthier if I allow him to “mature” before neutering him? No. There are no health benefits in allowing a male dog to reach sexual maturity before neutering. And waiting can result in undesirable behaviors that may be irreversible. Sexually mature male dogs and cats typically urine mark their territory. Once this behavior becomes routine for the animal, it can be challenging to reverse. The same is true of aggressive behaviors in sexually mature males. It is better to prevent these behaviors from developing by neutering your dog or cat at a young age. 

When should I spay or neuter my pet?

Generally, it is safe to spay or neuter most kittens and puppies at eight weeks of age. Check with your veterinarian and have your pet evaluated before scheduling spay or neuter surgery. Contact the Humane Society of Utah Spay/Neuter &  Vaccine Clinic if you have any questions. 

It is recommended to sterilize your pet by four months of age before problems arise. In both cats and dogs, the longer you wait, the greater the risk of the surgery not solving behavioral issues because the animal has practiced the behavior for a longer time, thereby reinforcing the habit.  

For dogs: While the traditional age for neutering is six to nine months for larger dogs, puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered as long as they’re healthy. Dogs can be neutered as adults as well, although there’s a slightly higher risk of post-operative complications in older dogs, dogs that are overweight, or dogs that have health problems.  

For cats: In animal shelters, surgery is often performed at eight weeks of age so that kittens can be sterilized before adoption. To avoid the start of urine spraying and eliminate the chance for pregnancy, it’s advisable to schedule the surgery before your cat reaches four months of age. It’s possible to spay a female cat while she’s in heat.

Spaying/Neutering your pet, when they’re young, is recommended for the following reasons.

  • The reproductive organs of juvenile cats and dogs are much less vascular than those of adult animals, which allows for an easier, faster surgical procedure and reduces the risk of excessive bleeding during and after surgery.
  • Faster surgery equates to less time under anesthesia, thus reducing the anesthetic risks.
  • Anesthetic risks are further reduced because juvenile animals metabolize anesthesia more rapidly and recover from its effects more quickly than adult animals.
  • The tissues of juvenile animals are more resilient, resulting in faster healing and less post-operative pain and stress.

What are the risks of spaying and neutering?

While spaying and neutering are major surgical procedures, they are also the most common surgeries on dogs and cats. Like any surgical procedure, sterilization is associated with some anesthetic and surgical risk, but the overall incidence of complications is very low.  

Although reproductive hormones cause mating behaviors that may be undesirable for many pet owners, these hormones also affect your pet’s overall health and can be beneficial. Removing your pet’s ovaries or testes removes these hormones and can result in an increased risk of health problems such as urinary incontinence and some types of cancer.  

The benefits of spaying or neutering your pet outweigh the risks. Talk to your veterinarian about the benefits and risks of the sterilization procedure so you can make an informed decision.

Helping your pet before and after surgery

The Humane Society of Utah Spay/Neuter & Vaccine Clinic will provide pre-surgical advice that you should follow. In general, avoid giving your cat any food after midnight the night before surgery. However, a puppy or kitten needs adequate nutrition, and our veterinarian may advise that food not be withheld. 

We will also provide post-operative instructions for you to follow. Although your pet may experience some discomfort after surgery, our veterinarian can take various measures to control pain. Depending on the procedure performed, pain medication may be sent home with your pet.

Here are tips for a safe and comfortable recovery:

  • Provide your pet with a quiet place to recover indoors and away from other animals.
  • Prevent your pet from running and jumping for up to two weeks following surgery, or as long as our veterinarian recommends.
  • Prevent your pet from licking, chewing, or scratching the incision site by distracting your pet with treats or using an Elizabethan collar (E-collar).
  • Avoid bathing your pet for at least ten days after surgery.
  • Check the incision site daily to confirm proper healing.
  • Your pet’s metabolism may decrease after surgery, so pet owners may need to adjust the amount of food given.
  • If you notice any redness, swelling, or discharge at the surgery site, or if the incision is open, please contact our clinic during regular business hours. Call us if your pet is lethargic, has a decreased appetite, is vomiting, or has diarrhea or other concerns following surgery. If it is a medical emergency or after business hours, please contact a veterinary hospital or your private veterinarian.