Spaying, or ovariohysterectomy, is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in dogs and cats. On my April 6th SiriusXM Stars Channel 109 show, “Ask the Vet,” I was asked a question about spaying and I admit I could not readily come up with an answer. The question was: “Should I spay my mini pig?” Fair question, but a bit outside my personal day-to-day veterinary practice. This blog post expands on the answer to the caller’s question in various non-traditional pets.
Mini Pig Spay
The short answer to the caller’s question is yes, your female mini pig should be spayed. A female mini pig (also known as a gilt) in heat is moody, destructive and potentially dangerous because of elevated hormone levels. She may pick a fight with your other pets or do something even worse. Once a gilt reaches full adult size, her desire to mate can lead to injuries for human family members. Pigs gain a tremendous amount of body fat as they mature, making any swine surgery challenging for your veterinarian. The current recommendation is to spay mini pig gilts quite young, as early as 6-8 weeks of age, before your piggy packs on the pounds. The American Mini Pig Association has lots of great information about mini pig health on their website.
Unlike mini pigs, routine spaying of birds is not the standard of care, but AMC’s Avian and Exotic Pet Service does spay chronically egg bound female birds. An egg bound bird is one who has eggs stuck in her reproductive tract. A bird spay is different than a dog or cat spay. Instead of a right and left ovary, a bird has only a left ovary and oviduct (the bird version of a uterus). In dogs and cats, a spay includes removing the ovary and often times the uterus, but in birds, the ovary lies very near major blood vessels and only the oviduct is removed. Read about Scarlett, a bird saved by a spay.
Two reasons to spay your doe, or female rabbit, are to decrease destructive behavior associated with the urge to mate and to prevent reproductive tract cancer. A doe looking for a mate will dig a nest, making a mess of your pretty garden, or worse, your carpeting. As they mature, does can become aggressive and will bite. She will spray urine to mark her territory. Spaying your girl rabbit before about 6 months of age will eliminate these unwanted and unpleasant behaviors. Approximately 80% of female rabbits will develop uterine cancer between the ages of 2-5 years. To keep your bunny healthy and happy, spaying is a must.
I will close with another interesting exotic pet reproduction tidbit. Snakes, depending on the species, lay eggs, like other reptiles, but certain snake species give birth to live snakelets. This means that on occasion, AMC veterinarians perform a c-section to deliver a baby!