The little blue tattoo says a lot about the condition of your dog.

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes; they might be little, adorable breeds or huge, devoted giants.

Each also has a distinct set of innate traits, such as brindled fluffy coats, two different-colored eyes, or tongues with black spots. Furthermore, we have a few ways as pet owners to “mark” our dogs, including a winter coat, a red collar, or a dog spay tattoo.

A piece of body art?

It seems like you read it correctly! A common feature of veterinary medical treatments is the placement of an abdominal dog spay tattoo. But are they necessary, and do all dogs get them?

Find out what that little blue line means and how it can save you and your cat from having to undergo costly, painful surgery in the future.

What is the reason behind certain dogs’ tattoos of lines?

A blue line tattooed on a dog’s belly by the operating veterinarian indicates that the dog has been spayed or neutered. Usually utilizing a tattoo gun owned by the veterinarian practice, the tattoo is applied during the animal’s sterilization treatment, according to Cherice Roth, DVM, chief veterinary officer of Fuzzy, an online pet health company. The lady goes on, “Or we could just put sterile ink or dye inside the wound.” The tattoo is put after the surgery is complete but before the pet wakes up from anesthetic. Since the dog will be given medications both during and after the treatment, it won’t experience any discomfort from the tattoo.

Do you not know if your dog has this marking? If your dog is a rescue, the answer is probably in the affirmative. Tattoos commemorating spays and neuters are significantly more prevalent among rescue dogs and sterilized dogs from free or low-cost spay/neuter clinics. The majority of animals that are taken from shelters must be sterilized. While just a small percentage of private veterinarians tattoo the animals they sterilize, at least 80% of shelters do so, according to a 2022 research published in the veterinary journal.

What’s the appearance of a dog spay tattoo?

“The majority of veterinarians are not renowned for their creative abilities,” Dr. Roth quips, explaining that a dog spay tattoo is usually only a thin line close to the incision. Depending on the veterinarian’s discretion, it may show up on the incision itself, as a single line on one side, or as a line on both sides of the wound. Additionally, although most spay tattoos are done in blue ink, they can also occasionally be done in black or green. The ink will stay as a visible sign of the dog’s sterilization status even if it can get lighter over time.

When spaying a dog, why do veterinarians ink it?

You may be wondering as a pet owner why your animal companion—or any animal—needs a dog spay tattoo. After all, if there’s a problem, can’t you merely inform the veterinarian about your pet’s spay/neuter status? However, things aren’t always so easy, and there are a number of reasons why this is a wise decision. The majority include some depressing “what if” situations, however these should be taken into account:

-You can’t talk to the veterinarian since you’re not present to attend to your pet’s emergency.
-Your dog ends up in a shelter where it is being held for adoption after being permanently lost or separated from you.
-Sometimes circumstances in life force you to give up your pet to a shelter, whereupon your creature’s medical records may or may not be retained.
-Your pet can wind up at a shelter if you pass away and leave no one to take care of it.

Pets should have spay/neuter tattoos for the following additional, unrelated, and connected reasons.

Scars could disappear

A dog’s tummy will have a scar after sterilization. However, Dr. Roth notes that scars may disappear, particularly if the dog is extremely young at the time of operation. At the point of the incision, a tattoo is permanent. Furthermore, tattoos have no ambiguity regarding their meaning because they are exclusively done here to signify that sterilization has taken place.

Whether or not a male dog has testicles may seem like a straightforward method to determine if it has been neutered. However, even this cannot be guaranteed. Some dogs have retained testicles, which are never visible from the outside of their bodies because they never “drop” into the scrotum.

The narrative is not always told by scars

Although a scar on a dog’s belly most often indicates sterilization, it might also indicate another kind of operation. Therefore, a dog spay tattoo verifies the spayed or neutered state of the animal, but the scar alone does not.

Dog spay tattoos save costly and invasive procedures

This is the point at which the dog spay tattoo truly matters. “We tattoo to indicate that the animal has undergone spaying or neutering without requiring the animal to be surgically opened,” Dr. Roth explains. “Most families cannot afford the other methods, such as hormone blood tests or abdominal ultrasounds, to check for spay/neuter status.” A private veterinarian may charge $300 to $500 for an ultrasound, which may not be definitive like blood testing. According to Dr. Roth, paying for the surgery—during which a veterinarian determines whether the dog is sterilized only after it goes under the knife—may often be more economical.

Dr. Roth says, “We want to avoid the pet being put under anesthesia and having their body opened needlessly, which is the reasoning behind the tattoo.” This is particularly important for shelter dogs since they frequently arrive as adults or as strays with no medical history.

According to Dr. Roth, pet spay tattoos also assist vets in ruling out illnesses and ailments pertaining to the reproductive system, such as pregnancy, uterine infections, and testicular cancer. Furthermore, a brief examination will at least enable the veterinarian to determine whether or not this is the cause of your pet’s emergency. Dr. Roth continues, “Knowing a pet’s spay/neuter status helps us to better help the pet.”

Tattoos on spayed dogs-are veterinarians always do this?

No, although there’s a growing trend of blue neuter/spay tattoos. According to Dr. Roth, “nearly all shelters tattoo sterilized pets,” and they often demand that animals be neutered prior to adoption. However, the process is still somewhat unusual in private settings; this might be due to the fact that veterinarians in private practices and pet owners are less inclined to think about situations in which a cherished animal becomes homeless. Consult your veterinarian to see whether tattooing is an option, even if it doesn’t seem conceivable. Dr. Roth adds, “I wish every veterinary practice did it so we could help to prevent unnecessary procedures.”

Discover the solutions to other dog enigmas, such as why dogs chew grass, get the zoomies, and exhibit other strange behaviors.

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