Spaying or neutering your dog is part of being a responsible pet owner. Not only does it help with the overpopulation problem, but it also has many benefits for the individual animal who has the procedure.
Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying can help to prevent your female dog from having many serious health problems, such as pyometra (uterine infection) and breast cancer. Both of which can be fatal if not caught early enough. The most effective prevention is to spay your dog before her first heat.
Your male dog gets health benefits, too. Neutering helps to prevents testicular cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate gland). For the best chance of prevention, you want to complete the procedure as early as possible. The right age varies by breed, so consult with your veterinarian.
Your dog will be better behaved. Typically, after about six months of age, un-spayed females go into heat, duration and frequency varies with size and breed. This period of time can bring about a number of troublesome behaviors, such as howling and urinating more often (and in the house). It will also attract the attention of every unneutered male within smelling distance.
An unneutered dog is more likely to display a number of problem behaviors in an effort to find a mate. He’ll want to roam, which can mean digging his way out of the yard and bolting out of the door. Once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other male animals. Marking is another important mating behavior — but not a very pleasant one for humans. Your dog might be less likely to mount other dogs, people and inanimate objects after he’s neutered. And neutered dogs are also less likely to display aggressive behaviors.
Benefits to You and the Dog Community
It saves you money. The cost of caring for a litter of puppies is much more than spaying your pet, and so is handling the medical and behavior issues that you can prevent by having the procedure done.
You’re benefiting the entire canine community. By spaying or neutering your pet, you’ll help control the pet homelessness crisis, which results in millions of healthy dogs and cats being euthanized in the United States every year simply because there aren’t enough homes to go around.
Spay and Neuter Myths and Misconceptions
Spaying or neutering will not cause your pet to become overweight. Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
Neutering is not a quick fix for all behavior problems. Although neutering your pet often reduces undesirable behaviors caused by a higher level of testosterone, there’s no guarantee that your dog’s behavior will change after he’s neutered. Although the surgery will reduce the amount of testosterone in your dog’s system, it won’t eliminate the hormone completely. Neutering will also not reduce behaviors that have become habitual.
When should I spay or neuter my pet?
Consult your veterinarian about the most appropriate time to spay or neuter your pet based upon his/her breed, age and physical condition. Keep in mind that, contrary to popular belief, it is usually NOT best to wait until your female dog or cat has gone through her first heat cycle.
What are the risks of spaying and neutering?
While both spaying and neutering are major surgical procedures, they are also the most common surgeries performed by veterinarians on cats and dogs. Like any surgical procedure, sterilization is associated with some anesthetic and surgical risk, but the overall incidence of complications is very low. Before the procedure, your pet is given a thorough physical examination and has blood work performed to ensure that he/she is in good health. General anesthesia is administered to perform the surgery and medications are given to minimize pain.
Talk to your veterinarian about the benefits and risks of the sterilization procedure so you can make an informed decision.
Helping Your Pet After Surgery
Your veterinarian will also provide post-operative instructions for you to follow. Although your pet may experience some discomfort after surgery, medication for pain will be sent home with your pet.
Provide your pet with a quiet place to recover indoors and away from other animals.
Prevent your pet from running and jumping for up to two weeks following surgery, or as long as your veterinarian recommends.
Prevent your pet from licking the incision site, which may cause infection, by distracting your pet with treats or by using an Elizabethan collar.
Avoid bathing your pet for at least ten days after surgery.
Check the incision site daily to confirm proper healing.
If you haven’t had your dog spayed or neutered yet, what are you waiting for? Unless you’re using your dog specifically for breeding, there’s no reason not to.