Being a fur parent means you have to know the risks and benefits of spaying or neutering your dog. Aside from other aspects of their life such as training, nutrition, and grooming, their sexual maturity must be taken into consideration too.
Your dog’s mating behaviour affects them big time. Neutering and/or spaying isn’t only to stop them from reproducing, it also provides many health and behavioural benefits for your dog, and for you!
Here are the essential things you need to learn when spaying or neutering your dog.
How does spaying/neutering work?
When your female dog is spayed, a veterinarian makes an incision on her stomach and conducts surgery under anaesthetic to remove her uterus and ovaries.
This procedure can occasionally be performed laparoscopically.
Although spaying is more complicated than the neutering process, the procedure normally lasts less than 90 minutes. Also, most female dogs are okay to return home the same day to rest and recover, while some veterinarians will keep your dog overnight.
Ovariohysterectomy or the typical spay procedure is when the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus are removed from your female dog. This makes her infertile, and her heat cycle and behaviour associated with the breeding instinct are completely gone.
Your female dog's uterus and a part of her fallopian tubes are removed during a hysterectomy. Her ovaries are still intact and will continue to generate hormones, but she is now infertile. The behaviours linked to the breeding instinct could still exist after this.
Ovariectomy involves removing the ovaries of your female dog, but her uterus remains. This makes her incapable of giving birth and removes her heat cycle and breeding instinct-related behaviour, much as an ovariohysterectomy.
When your male dog is neutered or castrated, the testicles are surgically removed by a veterinarian through an incision near the scrotum.
Your dog will need to be put under anaesthesia for the surgery, but the entire medical procedure is often quick, and you may usually take your dog home that same day to recover.
Although recovery usually only lasts a few days, you'll need to avoid strenuous activities, including jogging, jumping, climbing, and swimming. for around two weeks to ensure that they incision heals properly.
Like a typical neuter, your male dog's testicles are removed during an orchiectomy. As a result, he is unable to mate and displays fewer or no male breeding behaviours.
The only organ removed during a vasectomy is the vas deferens, which transports sperm from the testicles. This surgery makes your dog infertile, but his testicles are still intact and will continue to generate hormones.
Vasectomy might not entirely eliminate your dog's breeding-related behaviour.
General benefits of spaying/neutering your dog
They can live a longer life
Your dog has a better chance of living a longer, healthier life if they're spayed or neutered. Here are proven health benefits that lead to a healthier body and life for both your female and male dogs.
Spaying your dog before her first estrous cycle or before she reaches sexual maturity considerably reduces her risk of developing breast cancer, which kills 50% of dogs. Spaying also completely eliminates the risk of uterine, ovarian, and uterine infection.
Spayed dogs also have zero risk of pyometra.
Pyometra is an extremely dangerous, fatal infection which only occurs in non-spayed female dogs. The uterus expands and will be filled with bacteria, pus and toxins, which leads to a potentially fatal blood poisoning. Vomiting, drowsiness, vaginal discharge, increased thirst, and increased urination are some of the symptoms.
Neutering your male dogs removes the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate issues. Testicular tumours is considered one of the most typical cancers in non-neutered male dogs. Majority of dogs are neutered at a young age, hence the incidence of testicular tumours is not very high.
Neutering also lowers the risk of hernias and perianal tumours, which are frequently seen in older, unaltered dogs.
They are better behaved
Neutering or spaying doesn’t entirely alter your dog’s behaviour, it just applies to aggressive behaviours associated with breeding.
Neutering your male dogs at a young age results in less aggressive behaviour toward other males and less distraction from females in heat. Neutered males are also less likely to mark their territory both inside the home and outside, so you don't have to worry about them messing with your neighbours' shrubs.
Less roaming equals less accidents and infections
Your spayed or neutered dog no longer feels the urge to go in search of a mate. As a result, they remain at home and are less likely to be engaged in terrible accidents like getting hit by a car. According to surveys, up to 85% of dogs hit by cars are not spayed or neutered.
They also get into fewer fights and have a far lesser chance of catching infectious illnesses.
Prevents unwanted pet pregnancy
An unplanned pregnancy of your dog is something no family wants to deal with. You don't want to be surprised and having to find good homes for the puppies. Spaying prevents your pet from giving an unplanned litter.
Bonus: Helps fight pet overpopulation
Unwanted animals are increasingly becoming a serious problem. Shelters are often full and stray animals outside carry disease and quickly turn into a public nuisance– they can damage landscaping, pollute parks and streets, scare children and the elderly, make noise and other disruptions, cause car accidents, and occasionally even kill livestock or other pets.
Neutering or spaying your dog helps in reducing the number of stray pets that are not taken care of in the streets. Both your dog and your community will benefit from your responsible decision.
When to spay/neuter your dog
For your male dog
Male dogs who have reached sexual maturity build more muscles as their growth plates close. The growth of their musculoskeletal system, especially in big breeds, helps shield them from certain orthopaedic injuries later in life. Some evidence also suggests that giving dogs time to mature sexually may reduce the risk of some cancers from developing.
Small-breed dogs do not typically experience orthopaedic problems, so it is fine to neuter them when they're 6-12 months old. Large-breed dogs are very prone to orthopaedic issues and it's recommended to wait until they're 9-18 months of age.
For your female dog
Female dogs may show some of the same symptoms of sexual development like male dogs, yet they'll also experience their first heat. This often occurs when they are 9 to 10 months old or older. A smaller breed dog will sometimes show signs of their first heat at roughly 6 months of age.
Since blood vessels are more fragile and more likely to bleed internally when your dog is in heat, spaying them during this time carries a much higher risk. Unless it's an emergency, avoid spaying a dog when they're in heat.
It’s recommended to spay your dog prior to their first heat, or waiting until your dog is at least over 6 months, and likely even older for larger dogs.
Spaying a large-breed female dog depends on a number of variables; your vet can assist you in deciding on the recommended window of 5 to 15 months depending on your dog's lifestyle and illness risk.
Spaying or neutering your dog is an important decision to make, one that requires personal and professional input. Consult your veterinarian before making a decision. Just like feeding balanced diets and treating allergies, your vet will know what’s best for your dog and when’s the best time to neuter or spay them.