The Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Your Dog
Being that February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, we thought we would bring up the topic of spaying and neutering your dog. Some people (especially men) seem to have a strong opinion about the subject and even Veterinarians don't agree on the exact age a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Spaying involves removing a female dog's reproductive organs so she cannot become pregnant. Neutering is the surgical removal of a male animal's testicles so that he cannot impregnate a female. In most cases the surgery will be performed under general anesthesia so your dog will not experience any pain.
Advantages of Spaying and Neutering
- Prevents overpopulation. Approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.1 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats. Additionally, nearly 1 million shelter animals are euthanized. Spaying or neutering your dog or cat is the only permanent, 100 percent effective method of birth control.
- Increases longevity. Research published in USA Today shows that neutered male dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than un-spayed female dogs.
- Reduces risks. Studies suggest that female dogs that are NOT spayed are more prone to developing pyometra (a fatal uterine infection), uterine cancer, and other cancers of the reproductive system. Another advantage? Your spayed female dog won't go into heat! Neutered male dogs are less susceptible to getting testicular cancer.
- Cuts down on unwanted behaviors. Research also suggests that neutered/spayed dogs are less likely to "mark their territory", roam, mount and display aggression. However, note that spaying or neutering your dog may not help to eliminate "unwanted behaviors" -- only dog training will!
Because of its importance to a pet's overall health, many clinics will offer spaying and neutering services at a reduced cost. Additionally, if you adopt a dog, most shelters or rescue centers will perform this service for free. It cost a lot less to spay or neuter a dog than to raise a litter!
When to Spay/Neuter
There is conflicting research on spaying/neutering dogs at an early age. The general rule of thumb is to spay females before their "first heat" and males between 6 -12 months. Older dogs can be spayed or neutered but there is a slightly greater chance of post-operative complications. The same holds true for dogs that are severely overweight.
Caring for Your Pet After Surgery
Your veterinarian will provide you with pre-operative and post-operative instructions. Your dog may be uncomfortable after surgery and your vet may prescribe pain medications.
- Provide your pet with a quiet place to sleep indoors that is away from other animals.
- Try and keep your dog from exerting himself/herself and talk to your vet when regular activities such as running can occur.
- Prevent your pet from licking the incision by using an Elizabethan collar or other means of distraction.
- Avoid bathing your dog for at least 10 days.
- Make sure the incision does not get infected and is cleaned according to your vet's instructions.
In the unlikely event that your dog begins to vomit or have diarrhea after surgery, called your vet.
Why do some dog owners not spay or neuter their pets? We hear all kinds of reasons. Some men may get squeamish about "emasculating" their dog, other owners want their female dogs to experience the "joy of motherhood". We can assure you that your dog's life won't be any less fulfilled as a result of spaying or neutering. The only good reason not to spay or neuter is if you professionally practice responsible breeding.