If you have a new cat or dog, you know you need to get the pet spayed or neutered. One of the features of the surgery is which type of stitches the vet will use to close the surgery site. The vet can use dissolvable stitches, the type that do just as their name says, and traditional stitches, which need to be removed manually by the vet. Many vets have a preference for one or the other, but some will talk to you about which ones might be easier for you to deal with, depending on your pet's temperament and your ability to monitor the surgery site. Knowing what to expect with each type will help you decide.
One of the biggest differences between the two, other than one of them is absorbed by the pet's body, is that you don't have to go back to the vet for a follow-up appointment to get the stitches removed if you use dissolvable stitches. This is great if you have a busy schedule or have a pet who puts up a big fight whenever you try to take it to the vet's office.
The drawback to this is that if you have a pet that is prone to infections or that is determined to scratch at the surgery site (even if the pet can't reach it with its paws, it can try to rub the surgery site on something like furniture), no follow-up means no double-checking that the pet hasn't developed a problem. Technically, you can schedule a follow-up anyway, if this is a concern. But since the dissolvable stitches are inside the skin, it may be harder to see if there is an infection where the stitches went into and out of the skin.
Traditional stitches have to be removed within a certain amount of time. If they are left in for too long, they can become embedded in the scar tissue and skin, making them even harder to remove. Dissolvable stitches technically aren't at risk of this, so if you think you'll have trouble getting to a follow-up appointment within the stitch-removal window, dissolvable may be best.
If the only reason you're interested in dissolvable stitches is that they're harder for the pet to remove by scratching, you may be unhappy to learn that pets can still try to scratch surgery sites. As mentioned, they can rub up against furniture if they can't reach the site with a paw and are wearing a cone. Traditional stitches are a little more at risk from scratching just because the stitch itself can be torn out, but you're still going to have to prevent the pet from messing with the surgery site if you have dissolvable stitches used instead.
Your vet will be able to help you evaluate your choices. In many cases, dissolvable stitches will be just fine, but it may turn out that traditional work well for your particular pet.