Spaying and Neutering Dogs – What You Need to Know

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As a dog owner, you want to make sure that your furry companion stays healthy and happy. One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a pet owner is whether to spay or neuter your dog. Spaying is the surgical removal of a female dog’s reproductive organs, while neutering is the removal of a male dog’s testicles. Veterinarians commonly perform these procedures and have many benefits for your pet’s health and behavior. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), about 3.3 million dogs enter animal shelters every year in the United States, and about half of them are euthanized due to a lack of homes. By spaying or neutering your dog, you can help reduce the number of unhoused dogs and improve their quality of life.

What Are Spaying and Neutering?

Spaying and neutering are surgeries that vets do to prevent dogs from having babies by removing their reproductive organs. When a female dog is spayed, her ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus are taken out. Neutering is when male dogs have their testicles removed, which is also called castration.

What Are the Health Benefits of Spaying and Neutering?

Spayed dogs are less likely to develop breast cancer and will not be at risk for ovarian or uterine tumors. If you neuter your male dog, he won’t get testicular cancer and be less likely to have an enlarged prostate. Neutering male dogs reduces their tendency to roam, thereby lowering the chances of injury and the spread of infectious diseases.

Why Should I Spay or Neuter My Dog?

When you spay or neuter your furry friend, you’re making sure they won’t add to the pet overpopulation problem. Plus, it comes with many health benefits. If your dog isn’t spayed or neutered and happens to run away on a walk, they could have puppies with another dog. Each year, millions of unhoused dogs are euthanized or end up in shelters simply due to a lack of good homes.

What Are Some Behavioral Issues Associated with Dogs Who Aren’t Spayed or Neutered?

Both male and female dogs will show general behavior signs such as howling, barking, and urine marking. There is also a strong need to roam and find a mate, often leading to fighting.

When Is the Best Time to Spay or Neuter My Dog?

It is generally considered safe for puppies as young as eight weeks of age to be spayed or neutered. Animal shelters often spay or neuter puppies before they’re adopted, so they might have surgery at a young age. To avoid the start of urine marking in male dogs and remove the chance of pregnancy, it’s advisable to schedule the surgery before your dog reaches six months of age. It’s possible to spay a female dog while she’s in the heat, but not always recommended since she may be susceptible to increased blood loss. Though older dogs can be good candidates for sterilization surgery, your vet can best determine if the procedure can safely be performed. Please check with your veterinarian about the best time to spay or neuter your pet.

What Happens When My Dog Is Spayed or Neutered? Will He or She Act Differently?

After sterilization, your dog may be less likely to exhibit certain behaviors, but his or her personality will not change. Spayed and neutered dogs may be predisposed to weight gain, but proper body condition can be maintained with appropriate diet and exercise. Your vet can help you choose a good diet for your dog.

How Do I Prepare My Pet for Surgery?

Your veterinary clinic will provide pre-surgical advice for you to follow. Usually, it’s best not to give your dog any food after midnight on the night before the surgery. A puppy, however, needs adequate nutrition, and your veterinarian may advise that food not be withheld. Water should generally not be withheld from any canine patient before sterilization surgery.

What Is the Recovery Process for Recently Spayed or Neutered Dogs?

Your veterinarian can provide post-operative instructions for you to follow. Although your dog may experience discomfort after surgery, your vet can take various measures to control pain. Your dog may be sent home with pain medication after the procedure, depending on which one was performed. Here are tips for a safe and comfortable recovery:

  • Give your dog a peaceful spot indoors to rest and recover, away from other animals.
  • Prevent your dog from running and jumping for the first few days following surgery.
  • Discourage your dog from licking the incision site, which may cause infection, by distracting your pet with treats or by using an Elizabethan collar.
  • Avoid bathing your dog for at least ten days after surgery.
  • Check the incision site daily to confirm proper healing.

Let your vet know right away if you see any redness, swelling, or discharge, or if the incision is open at the surgery site. Also, call your vet if your dog is lethargic, has a decreased appetite, is vomiting, or has diarrhea following surgery.

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