The spaying or neutering procedure is a common but important step in your dog's development. Also known as "fixing" your dog, this elective surgery entails the sterilization of an animal.
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has stated that about 6.5 million animals end up in shelters or rescue system across the United States annually. Of those animals, less than half are adopted as pets.
One of the best ways you can do your part to help reduce the number of unplanned puppies born each year is to have your pet spayed or neutered. This also helps lighten the load at rescues and shelters.
What are the differences between spaying and neutering?
Neutering Male Dogs
Often referred to as castration, neutering involves the removal of both testicles from your male dog, in addition to the associated internal structures. Your dog will not be able to reproduce after this procedure.
While there are alternative options such as vasectomies, these are not typical.
Spaying Female Dogs
The removal of a female dog's reproductive organs is done either by an ovariectomy (elimination of the ovaries) or an ovariohysterectomy (removal of the ovaries and uterus).
After the spaying procedure is done, your dog will no longer enter heat and will be unable to have puppies.
When should I have my dog spayed or neutered?
The timing of a spay or neuter procedure for your dog will depend on the many different factors you should keep in mind when considering the procedure. While both can be performed on puppies as young as a couple of months old, the is not a hard-and-fast rule. Traditionally, puppies are fixed anywhere between 4 to 6 months of age.
Because larger dogs mature slower than smaller medium ones, they should be fixed later. Many vets recommend that females be spayed before they go through their first heat cycle. Also, if you've adopted male and female puppies about the same age, have them spayed and neutered before the female's first heat.
Don't forget to consult your vet about the timing of your pooch's spay or neuter. The veterinarian will perform a full physical exam and review your dog's medical history before conducting the procedure to reduce the risk of complications.
What are the benefits of spaying or neutering my dog?
In addition to eliminating the risk of your dog birthing or fathering an unwanted litter of puppies, neutering or spaying your dog offers several benefits.
Spaying your female dog will drastically cut their risk of developing pyometra and mammary cancer, two conditions that may be life-threatening. And, while this doesn't always occur, in general being spayed will stop your female pup's instinctive breeding behaviors.
Having your male dogs neutered will help to reduce undesirable behaviors such as roaming, humping, howling and aggression, which can lead to fighting with other dogs or being struck by a vehicle. The procedure also helps prevent testicular cancer.
Is there any risk to spaying or neutering my dog?
While these are common surgeries and typically safe, a qualified and experienced vet should still perform the procedure, as some risk is involved. That said, this is the case with any surgery that requires general anesthesia.
What does the recovery process look like?
You'll receive instructions about pain management and post-operative care from your vet. However, here are some general rules to remember as your dog recovers.
- Do not bathe your dog for at least 10 days after surgery.
- Prevent your dog from jumping, running or engaging in other strenuous activity for up to two weeks after the procedure.
- Your dog should stay inside and away from other animals as they heal.
- Check your dog's incision every day to ensure it's healing correctly. If you notice redness, swelling or discharge, contact your vet.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.