Is spaying/neutering painful?

Question:

Is the spay or neuter operation painful?

Answer:

Spay and neutering refers to the surgical sterilization–removing the female and male reproductive organs, respectively–of pets. Spay surgery involves an incision into the middle of the abdomen to remove the uterus and ovaries. Neutering entails removal of the testicles through either a small incision in the skin just in front of the testicles, or a small incision through the skin just over each testicle.

Both of these surgical procedures cause pain, but it is minimized by administering pain-reducing medication both prior to and following surgery. Pain medication administered prior to surgery helps to relax the animal and decrease the response to pain while post-operative pain medication aims to reduce pain caused by the surgery.

Most veterinarians administer pain medications to all spay and neuter surgeries, but you can be certain by asking prior to your pet’s operation. (If it’s considered optional, pain medication should always be requested.) Following surgery, your dog may be discharged from the hospital with pain medication for you to administer at home for a few days.

Since animals cannot tell us verbally when they are in pain, we must always treat for anticipated or presumed pain. Pets may let us know they’re in pain, though, through a change in behavior–such as not interacting with us, not eating well, or not wanting to jump up onto their favorite chair. These subtle signs must be taken seriously and must be treated. There are many different types of pain medications available today and your veterinarian will choose what is best for your dog.