Mar 02 2017

Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Animal Hospitals; why you pay more

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If you’re anything like me, you’re a sucker for a rescued animal, and your bank account can probably attest to it. Maybe you’ve recently purchased (or have been given) a puppy, and they are “coming of age”; or maybe, you have had your pet for a while and just haven’t gotten it “fixed” yet, due to financial (or personal belief) constraints?  In SWFL, you’ve got quite a few options for sterilizing your pet; but what’s really the best option for you, your wallet and, most importantly, your pet?


First, why get your pet spayed/neutered?
  1. Overpopulation and overcrowding in shelters across the country- It’s not a pleasant topic of conversation, but the truth is that millions of pets are euthanized every year due to lack of homes.
  2. Health risks-While your pet may be perfectly healthy now, the hormones that are being pushed through their systems by their sex organs can cause some serious damage later in life. Prostate enlargement, mammary cancer, and pyometra (an infection in the uterus that can be fatal if not treated surgically) are just SOME of the risks that an unsterilized pet may face; and while neutering may not completely eliminate these risks, it will significantly decrease them, especially if done while the pet is still very young (preferably before the first heat cycle).
  3. Behavioral changes-Those same hormones that can cause potential health risks, can also responsible for erratic, dominant, and sometimes aggressive behaviors as well. Sterilizing your pet at a young age can help them to “get a grip”, because, hey, we’ve all been teenagers at some point…..

And now, the options:


 A low-cost spay/neuter clinic

      There are numerous “low-cost” spay and neuter clinics in our area. Some are privately funded, some are government funded, and some are simply run by some great-hearted people with (now) empty pockets.  My point is, not all low-cost clinics are created equal; and you should not expect the same protocols and practice morals from all of them. The majority of low-cost clinics are about quantity (not necessarily quality), but what they contribute to the community by offering their services is SO necessary to keep overpopulation controlled. If a low-cost clinic what your budget calls for, first request a visit. At that visit, find out EXACTLY what you will be paying for and what steps will be taken to keep your pet safe before, during, and after the procedure. Visit the surgery suite (if possible) and speak directly with the veterinarian and technician that will be present on the “big day”. Discuss after-care, pain management, and DNR protocols; will you need to come back to have the sutures removed? Will that visit be covered? What if your pet develops an infection, will that be included in the price-package? Make sure that you are 100% comfortable by the end of that visit; if not, keep shopping!  Consider, also, the possibility that the “low-cost” clinic may not be THAT much of a lower cost than your own veterinarian; if you must shop around, shop smart and know exactly what you’re paying for.


A Veterinary Hospital

We have some amazing veterinarians (and support staff) in the Lee County area; I’ve worked personally with quite a few of them over the last 18 years. Hospital Veterinarians, generally, are more meticulous with their craft; preferring quality medicine over mass-quantity-assembly-line-surgery. A good veterinarian will take the time to build a relationship with you and your pet; understanding that ANY procedure requiring anesthetic can be a stressful, and should be approached with care.

Before surgery:

Most likely, your Veterinarian will require pre-operative bloodwork; and while this may seem frivolous and over-protective, it is merely a precaution that further proves your vet has your pet’s best interests in mind. A Vet will also require that your pet is an appropriate age for sterilization (“fixing” too young can cause problems later too) and that their vaccines are all up to date. Why is this important?    Well, #1 because your pet will spend the day in the hospital….which means exposure to other pets (though not necessarily physical contact).  (We’ve all shied away from our doctors occasionally to avoid picking up whatever flu bug is going around, am I right?)  And #2, surgery temporarily weakens the body’s immune system. Making sure that your pet’s immune system is in tip-top shape BEFORE surgery will make for a much easier, and speedier, recovery after.
Up next is a pre-op exam; this is where the Doctor and/or nurse will go over the procedure with you ahead of time, answering any questions that you may have; and review take home instructions, letting you know what to expect. Some clinics (ours included) will send you home with anti-nausea medications and bland food to give your pet on the morning of surgery.


After dropping off your pet on the morning of surgery, your pet will be again assessed by the Veterinarian, who will order an IV catheter to be placed and that IV fluids be run (when appropriate). Anesthesia will be administered (hospital Vets tend to stay more current on newer, safer, drug protocols) and your pet will be closely monitored. The nurse will ensure that your pet is hooked up to machines that continuously read your pets vitals (ex; EKG, Spo2, blood pressure, etc.) and that their body temperature be maintained via safe heat-sources (the Bair-Hugger warm air compressor that is used in human hospitals is also available, modified, to veterinarians!)  Soon after, you can expect a prompt phone call from the attending nurse, notifying you that the procedure is complete and that your pet is awake and well.

After Surgery:

When you return to the hospital to pick your pet up, you will receive your pet’s pain medications, written discharge instructions and/or a brief discharge exam with the nurse. Suture removals are always free, rechecks or complication exams are free as well (in most hospitals, provided that you have followed the post-surgical instructions).


Cape Coral Pet Vet | Uncategorized

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