The Tatted Dog
If, when you get home from having your new doggie spayed and you find she’s all tatted up and you’re wondering if she’s joined some dog biker gang, take heart. Dogs are frequently tattooed when spayed.
Is She or Isn’t She?
When a female puppy is spayed, a small incision is made in her abdomen and her reproductive organs are removed. The incision is then closed with surgical glue or stitches. As the puppy grows, the scar becomes almost invisible as it stretches and thins. A veterinarian looking at an adult female dog cannot always tell if the tiny scar he sees on the belly is a belly button, well-healed wound or the result of surgery for something other than spay. Before universal methods to indicate spaying has been done, vets had to anesthetize dogs and open them up to see if they were intact. Ultrasounds and X-rays are not effective in determining if a dog has been spayed. The universal methods include ear-tipping, tattooing and microchipping. Each vet has her own preferred method.
Some vets find the idea of cutting off healthy ear tissue (ear-tipping) unprofessional or unethical, so they prefer to use other methods. Ear-tipping is the only method that allows rescuers to see if a dog has been sterilized without having to get too close to the them. Microchipping, for example, requires capturing the dog and scanning her for a microchip, which will have a record of the dogs sterilization.
Inky Dinky Do
Not all vets tattoo after spaying a dog. Those who do employ several methods. The ink is usually black, blue or green, as long as it is clearly visible and does not blend in with the flesh. Some vets use a tattoo gun, others use a technique involving a needle and syringe. Tattoos were once placed on the dogs ear, but not everyone knew that it was an indication of sterilization, so the universally accepted site is on the abdominal area where the spay surgery would typically take place. The tat can be a thin S-shaped line or other identifying mark.