By Alissa Hicks

Dr. Greer says spaying or neutering your pet provides long-term benefits for their health. 

We all want the best for our pets, but do we always know the facts behind our choices for them? We caught up with Dr. Theenda L. Greer of Breckenridge Animal Hospital.

Dr. Greer has worked with animals for more than 15 years. “I’ve always really enjoyed science and had a great love for animals,” she says. “I always seemed to want to help them all.” After receiving her veterinary degree from Auburn University, she lived in Chicago, Virginia, and Ohio before coming back home to Louisville to be closer to her family. Dr. Greer has three pets of her own: a dog, Hewy, and two cats, Gateway and Dell.

“My job is really rewarding when the owner can notice that their pet is much more lively, and they really appreciate the medical assistance we have provided,” Dr. Greer says. “On the other hand, I would have to say that personally, the toughest part for me as a veterinarian is pet owner compliance. Even if it comes down to finance, I can only do as much as the owner can allow for me to, even though I want to help all the animals I see the best way I can.”

Spay/Neutering Facts
To start, Dr. Greer explains that a spay is a procedure for female animals that is performed to remove the reproductive tract. A neuter is a procedure for male animals that removes the reproductive organs.

“Both a spay and a neuter take about one day, and pets can generally go home that same day,” Dr. Greer says. “Pets generally receive sutures and are sent home with pain medicine as needed to relieve any discomfort. They are given intravenous (IV) fluids and oxygen throughout the procedure and generally have pre-anesthetic bloodwork done to make sure they are healthy enough for surgery beforehand.”

It can help decrease and prevent overpopulation of feral cats and stray dogs.

It can help with behavioral issues. For example, it can help calm hyper puppies and keep cats from urinating in unwanted places or going through heat cycles, which can be difficult for owners to deal with. Spaying and neutering can also help cut down on aggression in some animals and ultimately lead to a longer lifespan.

It can help prevent medical diseases in pets, including pyometra, a serious infection of a female animal’s uterus and mammary cancer; and in male animals, testicular prostate cancer or enlarged prostate glands, which can make it difficult to defecate and cause urinary tract infections.

“Ultimately, the benefits outweigh the risks,” Dr. Greer says. “However, it is an anesthetic procedure, which always has a risk of complications.

“Also, besides anesthetic complications with spays and neuters, sometimes infections, inflammation and hemorrhage or excessive bleeding may occur.”

Ongoing research suggests that larger-breed dogs could possibly benefit from waiting to have a spay or neuter procedure at a later age because if you spay or neuter too soon, it can set them up for risk of orthopedic issues. This is controversial for some veterinarians, but the average age for a pet to be spayed or neutered is around four to six months.