Spay and Neuter

There are many benefits to spaying and neutering your pet, especially prior to the onset of puberty. We provide spay and neuter services to pets in the Ringgold, Georgia area.


Surgical sterilization (spaying and neutering) of companion animals is a common practice in the United States. It helps to prevent unwanted litters as well as potential health issues related to the reproductive tract. Spaying (or ovariohysterectomy) involves surgically removing the female’s ovaries and uterus. Neutering (or castration) involves surgically removing the male’s testicles. Both procedures result in an infertile animal that cannot produce offspring. Surgery is performed under general anesthesia. Here at Ringgold Animal Hospital, we also provide multi-modal analgesia (pain control), an IV catheter and IV fluids (except for cat neuters, as they take less than 5 minutes), patient-specific anesthetic protocols, and a dedicated technician to monitor your pet during anesthesia and recovery. Sterilization surgery is generally a low-risk procedure performed on young, healthy pets, but if you have any concerns about the risks you are encouraged to discuss them with your veterinarian.


  • Females: Spayed females don't cycle into estrus (heat), eliminating the chance of an accidental pregnancy and the mess that a heat cycle brings (dogs and cats do experience bleeding during a cycle). Dogs typically cycle twice a year, while cats will cycle every few weeks from early spring through late fall until bred. Females in heat have an intense urge to roam, and will often try to escape in order to find a mate. The scent of a female in heat can draw males from miles away, so you may also end up with unwelcome visitors - and those visitors may fight with each other, dig under your fence, or urine mark your property in their quest to win your female's heart. Spaying your pet also decreases her risk of malignant mammary cancer later in life, especially if done before her first heat cycle. As an intact female ages, her risk of coming down with a condition called pyometra (an infected uterus) also increases. This life-threatening condition turns a routine, low-risk spay surgery into a complicated, emergency surgery that is much harder on your pet (and more expensive for you).


  •      Males: We don’t insist that all male dogs be neutered, however we do insist that intact males be well-behaved gentleman - if they aren’t, they should be neutered immediately. Intact males, as mentioned above, will often roam for miles if they smell a female in heat. This can lead to being hit by a car, getting picked up by the shelter, or becoming a stray if they are unable to find their way home. Should you choose to leave your male dog intact, they must be securely contained at all times and not allowed to roam freely. Many males also exhibit undesirable behaviors including mounting, urine marking, and aggression (directed at other dogs or even people). These behaviors can be difficult to eliminate if allowed to occur for a prolonged period of time, so while neutering an older dog can be helpful, extensive training may also be needed. For this reason, if you leave your dog intact and he begins displaying any undesirable behaviors, he should be neutered immediately. If your male pet has an un-descended testicle (cryptorchidism), he should be neutered prior to puberty to help reduce the risk of testicular cancer in the un-descended testicle (it is also possible for both testicles to be un-descended). Male cats should always be neutered prior to puberty to prevent urine marking behavior.


  • Timing: We typically schedule spay/neuter procedures around 6 months of age for cats and small to medium-sized dogs, and 7-9+ months for large breed dogs. This allows time for vaccinations to be fully finished, and for puppy and kitten teeth (called deciduous teeth) to be replaced by adult (primary) teeth. Any deciduous teeth that remain at 6 months will need to be extracted under anesthesia, and alongside the spay or neuter procedure is the perfect time. Pairing the procedures saves you money in anesthesia costs, as well as being easier on the pet. Retained deciduous teeth are especially common in small breed dogs. These retained teeth need to be extracted, as they are only designed to last 5-6 months and will begin to decay if left in place for extended periods of time. They are usually situated extremely close to the primary teeth and can cause harm and decay to the primary teeth, necessitating their premature removal as well.


If you don't plan to breed your pet, spaying or neutering can help them live a longer, healthier life. A common concern for owners is that their newly spayed or neutered pet will gain weight. While spaying or neutering will change your pet's metabolism a bit, as long as they are fed an appropriate amount of food (and not too many treats!), they can maintain a healthy weight. Another concern (or sometimes hope) is that it will change the pet's personality. This often depends on the age of the pet. If they are spayed or neutered prior to puberty, their personality isn't being influenced by hormones and isn't likely to change. If they are older, however, it may decrease any aggressive tendencies and make the pet more amenable to training and socialization.


  • Breeding: While breeding your pet may sound like a great idea, in reality it is a lot of work. Your dog should be up to date on vaccinations and parasite prevention, and be judged in good health by your veterinarian. Certain breeds are prone to genetic conditions that should be screened for in both parents prior to breeding - hip and elbow dysplasia in Labrador Retrievers, eye diseases and patellar luxation in Yorkshire Terriers, cardiac and eye diseases and patellar luxation in Chihuahuas; the list is quite extensive and can be found at the Canine Health Information Center's website ( where you can search by breed.


If all of the screenings are clean for both potential parents and you have a successful breeding, you'll want to visit your veterinarian with the female around 45 days into the pregnancy so that an x-ray can be performed. This will allow the veterinarian to assess the size and number of puppies, as well as the relative size of the female's pelvic canal. In some cases, especially if the male is larger than the female, the puppies will be too large to be birthed and must be delivered by Cesarean section. Some breeds are also predisposed to having c-sections, such as English Bulldogs. A routine, scheduled c-section can cost $900-1,300, while an emergency c-section can cost upwards of $2,500.

Dr. Gerard Clarke

Dr. Jimmy Emerson

Small Animal Medicine & Surgery

by Appointment

6999 Nashville Street

Ringgold, GA 30736


Ph: (706) 937-7387

Monday 8:30a-5:30p

Tuesday  8:30a-5:30p

Wednesday CLOSED

Thursday  8:30a-5:30p

Friday  8:30a-5:30p

Saturday  8:30a-1:30p

Sunday CLOSED 

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