Q: Do all animals automatically need antibiotics after spay/neuter?

A: No, we do not routinely give antibiotics to owner-presented pets.  We trust our sterile techniques.  We do give antibiotics to feral cats, street dogs and all animals coming from the shelters.

Q: Is ketamine/zylazine a common combination for anesthesia during spay/neuter?

A: Yes, ketamine/zylazine is a common combination.  Here is an anesthetic protocol from one of my spay/neuter colleagues:

For Pediatric (6 months and younger) Puppies and Kittens
Developed by James LaRue, D.V.M., Filer, Idaho,  208-233-0936
For use when gas anesthesia is not an option

Bottle Size Concentration Drug Mfg
50cc 100mg/cc (LA) Xylazine Vedco
10cc 100mg/cc Ketamine Vedco
10cc 10mg/cc (LA) Torbugesic Ft. Dodge

Hospital Mixture:  Into a bottle of ketamine
                                                Add 2 ml (200 mg) Rompum
                                                Add .25 (2.5 mg) Torbugesic

Dose pups with Hospital Mixture:  1cc/15# body weight (or 0.1cc/1.5lb) IM*
Dose kittens with Hospital Mixture: 1cc/12# body weight or (0.1cc/1.2lb) IM*

Calculate weight and dose closely; if dose is less than 1cc, use TB syringe

Can begin to prep a relaxed patient in 1 minute; can begin incision approx. 5 minutes post injection
Duration of surgical level:  5 minutes to surgical plane plus 15 minutes duration

*If IV, use ½ the dose of the IM calculation

Q: Is pain medication required post-surgically?

A: Pain medication is becoming more and more expected by the profession and the public.  In the past, there were far fewer choices of product, and the administration to the two species, allowing for size differential and age, was a complex task and therefore not usually incorporated in the spay/neuter protocol.  The subject of pain meds is often emotionally charged and philosophically pondered.  It is up to each project director to decide the issue.  The extremes are: 1) pain medication is seldom administered in areas where volunteers barely have enough funds to cover basic supplies.  This is not bad medicine.  2)  pain medication is always administered by those who treat a spay with the same aggressive stance as a fracture repair, i.e. heavy duty drugs for 3 – 4 days.  This is not appropriate medicine.

There are many drugs and combinations available and each has its place in the decision-making process.  Research on the subject will yield volumes of studies and opinions on which to base an informed decision.

Q: Should early-age kittens/puppies have food withheld before surgery?

A: No; it is necessary to feed young animals approximately ¼ of their normal meal 1 - 2 hours prior to surgery.  This will assure they do not become hypoglycemic.  Withholding food for 8 - 12 hours would definitely stress the young patient. 

Q: How soon can early-age kittens/puppies eat after surgery?

A: Ready to eat in 45 minutes to an hour; ambulatory in 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Note:  These youngsters can and will often eat before they are able to walk.


FAQ’s  regarding Stainless Steel Sutures (see Article):

Q: Does stainless steel cut through all the tissue to cause a loss of the tissue being tied off?

A: Rarely.  It could happen but your judgment will alert you until your experience guides you.

Q: What sizes do you use (stainless steel for sutures)?

5 - 0 or 34 ga. Cats; all sizes
Dogs: toys and small prepubes
4 - 0 or 32 ga.

Cat’s estrous uterus (or use absorbable)
Dogs; 8 lbs to 80 lbs

3 - 0 or 30 ga. Dogs;  fascia closure in only obese or 81 lbs and over


Q: What skin closure do you use?

A: 100% stainless steel sub dermal (sub-Q).  Do not use as an intra dermal.  The   number of stitches depends on the length of your cut.  Try to limit your sub dermal bites to 1 ½ cm.  This is often the most difficult to perform and get to look correctly, and it is the part that shows!  Patience and practice; remove and replace. Adding the occasional external, surgical adhesive may help augment and improve appearance.  It may take a few hundred closures to become proficient.

Q: How do you prepare the stainless steel in your cassette?

A: The “Steelex” comes prepared and ready to use in a standard fashion.  If you want to use  the Miltex spools and prepare your own then you need a ½ pint (8 oz) wide mouth canning jar and lid (Kerr-order number 70610-00 500 for a box of nine, Mason or Ball), a metal punch set or drill with bit set to make a hole in the lid and a rubber stopper (harvest from any

used vial).  Insert the stopper into the lid, place the stainless steel in the jar and you have your cassette. Continue to assemble thusly:

1.      Place a 20-ga needle through the rubber stopper from top down inside.

2.      Carefully hold the spool of steel so that as you cut the end that is stapled to the wooden spool so that it does not spring to unwrap itself when you free it.

3.      Thread the wire end up through the 20-ga needle in the stopper.  Leave the needle in the stopper.

4.      Place spool in jar and replace lid to normal position. Do not tighten!  Otherwise, during autoclaving, you will seal the lid as in the canning process and if you need to remove the spool later to rethread, you will have trouble removing the lid. 

5.      Date the autoclave indicator tape and place it on the glass part of the jar.

6.      Leaving the needle in the stopper with the wire out through it, autoclave as usual. The changing pressure inside the jar is equalized naturally through the 20 ga. needle

7.      After the jar has cooled, remove the needle.  The rubber stopper holds the wire until you need it.  The contents are always sterile.

Q: Which suture needles are best suited for stainless steel work?

A: All the sizes I use are 3/8 curved reverse cutting.  Each surgical pack contains  one #14 and #12.  I use the #14 for the 5 – 0, 34 ga. and the #12 for the 4 – 0, 32 ga. In cold sterile solution, I keep a few #10s for use with the 3 – 0, 30 ga. for large dogs  and for the occasional very small finesse situation, a #16.  I’ve used Anchor needles throughout my career.  They cost about $1.00 per needle in packs of 6, but are very good and I autoclave and reuse them.  Be sure to detach the unused stainless steel piece from the needle.  It is much easier for the surgeon to do than for the tech and guarantees it won’t be missed.