The Thin Green Line: Tattoos After Spay and Neuter Surgey

spay tattoo, post surgery tattoo, green tattoo on dog's belly

You might see this on a dog’s belly.

The first time I saw a green (and sometimes blue) line on the belly of a dog I had no idea what it meant. Is that an infection? Did somebody draw on this dog with a magic marker? After seeing a few more of these little green/blue lines I started to catch on. This line means something but I wasn’t sure exactly what.

I finally put two and two together (with the help of a Google search) and learned the green (and occasionally blue) line on a dog’s belly is actually a tattoo indicating that the dog has been spayed or neutered. My first reaction was shock. Vets tattoo dogs now?

After reading about this practice and seeing it dozens of times, I am now 100% behind it and believe it is a valuable tool for vets and an excellent safety measure for the dogs. Lemme break it down a bit and tell you why this works.

A scar from a spay or neuter surgery can fade to nearly invisible or can easily be mistaken for some other previous surgery. Without the tattoo and after the scar fades, there is nothing to tell the world your dog has been spayed or neutered. If your dog is lost or there is an unexpected emergency and somehow ends up in a shelter with no identification, it is possible a vet could perform unnecessary abdominal surgery thinking the animal has not been spayed or neutered. Neutered you say? Uh, isn’t that, uh, obvious?

Not always and here is why the tattoo is necessary for both male and female dogs. Some male dogs have a condition called cryptorchidism. Without going too far into the nitty gritty, this condition prevents the testicles from being visible; they never enter the dog’s scrotum and are retained in the dog’s abdomen, basically, the dog has testicles, but they are not obvious to the naked eye. The green tattoo on the males tells anyone who might be providing medical care for this animal he has been neutered…no need to explore that option, thus avoiding painful and unnecessary surgery.

The tattoo is a sturdy system for preventing unnecessary surgeries and an obvious, simple indicator that this animal has no reproductive organs. The tattoo is quick and given under anesthesia immediately after the spay or neuter surgery. It can be lifesaving, can save time, effort and money and most certainly prevent invasive, painful surgeries your dog does not need.

If your a new dog owner and your vet explains there will be a small green tattoo on your dog, don’t freak out! Hopefully this posting will help shed some light on why the thin, green line is a positive, safety measure for both your dog and you. As I child I heard Bob Barker close The Price Is Right with the line, “always remember to have your pets spayed and neutered.” Well, Bob, mission accomplished, I am a firm believer in this practice and know it saves many lives. If you’d like to learn more about post-surgical tattooing and spay/neuter facts and myths, you can visit Chicago’s Anti-Cruelty website.


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