Ever wondered what happens to your dog when  you drop him or her off to be spayed or neutered? I imagine most people don't give it much thought, so perhaps I'm the only one! But with our plan to get Romeo neutered soon (November 2010), it's been on my mind. So I decided to find out.

I teach classes at Deer Creek Animal Hospital in Littleton, Colorado, and this is where I plan to have Romeo neutered. So I asked if I could come in on a day they were doing some neuters to observe. Yesterday was that day.

As much as the surgery itself, I wanted to see what the dogs went through from the time they arrived. All dogs had to be dropped off no later than 8 am, so I showed up around 8 and headed back to the surgery prep area.

The vet techs and the vets were kind enough to answer all of my questions and walk me through what they did to prep the dogs for surgery. While spays and neuters are performed frequently, and considered by some to be very routine, you still have to remember that this is SURGERY! There are always risks when someone goes in for surgery, so no matter how routine it is, there are always risks.

The dogs were all held in kennels until it was their turn for prep. The vet techs took dogs out one at a time to give them their pre-anesthetic to help relax them before the other prep like shaving the appropriate body parts and sticking the breathing tube down their throats. Most dogs were pretty tolerant of the handling, though I don't think any of them appreciated the needle pokes. I know I don't like needle pokes! But fortunately, most of the handling happens once the dog is partially or completely anesthetized, so they're awake for some of the prep but I doubt they remember most of it.

Once ready for surgery, they move the dogs into the surgery room and the techs get the dog and the equipment all set up so the vet can perform the surgery. The surgery itself is probably the quickest part of the entire procedure. With a vet who has done thousands of surgeries, it's usually pretty uneventful. At least to everyone except the one on the table, but s/he's not aware of anything while it's happening.

The most amazing part about the entire process what that I didn't pass out. If you're not squeamish at all, you wouldn't understand. But those that are, you know what a feat it is to see an actual surgery and not have everything go black and wake up in a lump on the floor.

I was surprised that most of the dogs were relatively calm. I think the procedure is less traumatic for most than I thought it would be. Thank goodness for pre-anesthetics! Probably the most difficult part for most dogs is having to be away from home for the entire day and overnight. They normally keep the dogs overnight so they can monitor just to be safe. But I guess that the anesthetic and the post-surgery pain meds probably help a lot with the stress.

I am glad I had the chance to observe and put to rest some of my concerns for when it's Romeo's turn to be neutered. I'll be with him when his day comes, but I will be a bit less stressed knowing what to expect.