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Laser Spay vs. Traditional: Which One Should I Choose for My Pet?

Spaying is a rite of passage for a female dog or cat (and a responsible, loving action to take for your pet). That said, many pet parents debate whether to choose a laser spay or traditional spay for their animal. Our Central Illinois vets offer their best advice about your options.

Benefits of Spaying Female Dogs & Cats

When you have your female pets spayed, you help to prevent numerous serious health issues and unwanted behaviors. 

Spaying Cats

Make the choice to spay your cat before their first heat and you'll reduce your feline friend's risk for malignant mammary tumors later in life. 

This procedure also helps to reduce your cat's risk of developing cancers in their reproductive system or a uterine infection. 

Spaying can also decrease unwanted behaviors, including:

  • Intense rubbing against objects
  • Increased and overly intense affection 
  • Heat-induced howling
  • The desire to wander

Getting your cat spayed offers health benefits for them — and will make life more comfortable for both of you. 

Spaying Dogs 

Bringing your dog in for a spaying procedure prior to her first heat can set her up to a live a long, healthy life by preventing serious health problems such as uterine infections and breast tumors. 

If this surgery is performed during their younger years, dogs that are spayed won't go into heat. For female dogs who are not spayed, you can expect them to go into heat about every 6 months, for between 2 and 4 weeks. Female dogs in heat release a bloody vaginal discharge, and may seem edgy, clingy or jumpy. 

What can I expect from the spaying process?

Whether you opt for a traditional spay or laser spay, the process will be similar. 

The vet will make a 2 or 3-inch incision into your pet's abdomen. Typically, the uterus, both ovaries and the reproductive tract are removed through the incision. The vet will use skin staples, internal stitches, skin glue or another type of stitches to close up the incision. 

What is the difference between a laser spay vs. a traditional spay?

Laser Spaying 

Hot or cold lasers can be used to replace a traditional scalpel for laser surgeries. Some vets feel that using a laser to perform the surgery helps to reduce recovery time and risk of infection, due to the fact that blood vessels are cauterized by the laser beam as it cuts through tissues and vaporizes cells. 

Many vets see the following benefits to laser spaying:

  • As the laser beam cuts through tissues, bleeding is reduced as the blood vessels are cauterized. 
  • Decreased pain in immediate post-operative timeframe 
  • Less swelling at surgical site 
  • Reduced risk of infection due to superheating of tissues at the incision site, which helps eliminate bacteria that may be present at the time of surgery. 

Using lasers in place of a scalpel can offer the surgeon extreme precision. However, like traditional surgery using a scalpel, laser surgery does not come without risks. Though your pet may experience less pain with lasers than with scalpels, laser surgery still has the potential to be painful, and hemorrhage (while rare) can still happen.

Traditional Spaying

While some vets may prefer to use lasers to complete procedures, others will prefer to use a scalpel. Vets use scalpels for many surgeries and are skilled at it. It’s important to remember that spaying is among the most common surgeries performed, and most vets become very skilled at spaying.

Benefits of a traditional spay include:

  • Often less costly than laser spaying.
  • Readily available at most veterinary hospitals.

When a skilled veterinary surgeon spays a pet, hemorrhage is an uncommon potential complication that can happen. It cannot be prevented or stopped by choosing a laser over a scalpel.

By booking your pet’s spay appointment with a reputable veterinarian and an animal hospital you trust, the risks of complications due to the spaying surgery (whether traditional or laser) should be minimal. When you schedule the appointment, ask your vet about the risks of surgery, as well as what to expect during the recovery process.

How can I help my pet recover comfortably from spay surgery?

Whether you choose a traditional spay or laser spay for your pet, your furry friend will need some time to recover.

Here are some tips for a comfortable, safe recovery:

  • Give your pet a quiet, indoor space to recover, away from other animals.
  • Monitor healing by checking the incision site daily, and watch for early signs of infection.
  • Keep your pet from licking the incision site, as this can cause infection. Using a post-surgical t-shirt or veterinary cone can help to prevent your pet from licking the wound.
  • Do not allow your pet to swim or bathe them for at least 10 days following the surgery.
  • Decrease your pet’s activity level for approximately two weeks after the surgery, or as long as is recommended by your veterinarian.

If you notice any discharge, swelling or redness at the surgical site, or if the incision opens up, contact your veterinarian. Also contact them if you notice a decrease in appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy or other issues following their spay surgery.

Whichever type of spay surgery you choose, the overall benefits of spaying outweigh risks. If you are concerned about risks, discuss these with your vet and request recommendations on which type of spaying is right for your pet.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time to schedule your pet's spaying procedure? Our veterinary professionals at Pekin Veterinary Clinic are dedicated to providing experienced veterinary care for your pet. Contact us today.

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