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Spay — An abdominal surgical procedure where the ovaries and uterus are removed to prevent reproduction, “heat” cycles and uterine infections in animals. Sterilization for a female pet.

Neuter — A surgical procedure where the testicles are removed through a small incision in the scrotum to prevent reproduction, testicular cancer and prostatic enlargement. Sterilization for a male pet.

Other definitions you may need to know

Canine (DHPP) distemper combo vaccine — Canine distemper is an airborne disease caused by a virus that can cause death. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weakness, tremors and lack of coordination. The vaccine not only prevents contracting distemper, but also hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvovirus.

Feline (PLRC) distemper combo vaccine — Feline distemper, or panleukopenia, is also a virus that can be life threatening in cats. Symptoms are similar to those that are experienced in canine patients, though it is a different disease in cats. The vaccine also provides preventative protection for many upper respiratory diseases in cats including rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and herpes virus.

Rabies vaccine — Rabies is a virus spread through bites or saliva of infected animals that attacks nerve tissue in warm-blooded animals, including humans. The disease develops over 10 days to several months. Infected animals may be withdrawn or become unnaturally aggressive and attack. Death always occurs once a rabies-infected animal shows signs of the disease. The vaccine should be provided to all dogs and cats and is required by law in many states, including Minnesota, as it poses a serious public health threat.

Cryptorchidism — An improperly developed testicle that has not descended into the scrotum. In some cases the testicle is in the area of the inner thigh, just under the skin, whereas in others it is still within the abdomen. Failure of both testicles to descend is uncommon. Usually only one testicle is involved and the other produces sufficient spermatozoa to render the animal fertile.

Hernia — A hole in the body wall that can allow for abdominal contents to push out under the skin. They can be “reducible”, meaning tissue can readily move back and forth inside and out of the hole, or “nonreducible” meaning the tissue can’t readily be moved. Hernias are always of some concern because in some cases organs or vital tissues can push through the hernia and get caught causing a reduction or loss of blood supply and tissue death.

Heat — Estrus is the mating period of female animals. When estrus occurs, animals are said to be “in heat” or “in season.”

Microchip — Microchips are an implanted form of identification the size of a grain of rice. They do not contain a battery, making them functionally reliable for the life of your pet. The chip is implanted between your pet’s shoulder blades just under the skin and is equipped with an individual scanning number. That number is then listed with your contact information in a nation-wide database that can be accessed by veterinarians and animal shelters to aid in the return of your lost pet.

Pyometra — A uterine infection caused by normal or abnormal hormone fluctuations. This condition can only occur in unspayed animals and if it is not treated immediately, can lead to serious illness or death. Pyometra is completely preventable by spaying your pet.