I am Dana, a Veterinary Doctor who studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida. For years, I have got common questions from friends and family about their pets. So, I decided to open up this website and answer all those frequently asked questions. Alongside, here I share my expert knowledge about pet care, pet health and the animal environment. Click Here to read more about me. Thanks for visiting aplaceforanimals.com

When to Spay a Dog? Here Is Everything You Need to Know About Spaying and Neutering Dogs

When to spay a dog

One of the first things a responsible pet owner will think about before getting their new dog is spaying and neutering. Of course, it is not the easiest topic to discuss, especially with many breeders and pet shop owners encouraging people against it. 

But almost all veterinarians certainly recommend it for many reasons such as population control, preventing health issues, a decrease of unwanted behavior, etc.

Most dog owners have a lot of questions about this procedure. In this article, we will try to cover everything.

What Do Spaying and Neutering Mean?

Spaying and neutering is a surgical procedure where the reproductive organ of the animal is removed.

Spay vs Neuter

Ovariohysterectomy, also known as spaying, refers to the removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus from a female dog or cat. 

Orchiectomy, also known as neutering, refers to the removal of the testes of a male dog or cat. 

Safety  

This surgery is a traditional procedure only done by veterinarians only. It is, in general, not complicated and has minimal side effects. 

The procedure is always performed under anesthesia. The safety of this anesthesia depends on the dog’s breed (brachycephalic dogs need extra attention), on the vet, and especially on the dog’s health and age. 

Depending on the kind of surgery, your dog might need stitches that will be removed in a couple of days after the surgery.

Benefits of Spaying and Neutering a Dog

1. Population Control

The world is facing an overpopulation of dogs. Unfortunately, a lot of countries choose to euthanize unwanted dogs and puppies. Other countries choose to eliminate them in violent and unethical ways, and even if they are not eliminated, they will be abused by humans. 

The right way to stop this torture is by spaying dogs and cats. It is the most humane and ethical way to reduce the big number of strays. 

2. What if the dog is not stray?

Very few dog owners can keep their dogs’ puppies over generations, meaning they will need to find a place after birth. Some choose to abandon them, and others choose to give them for adoption or sell them, eventually leading to an unending cycle.

3. Reduces Risk of Spraying 

Unneutered males tend to mark their territory by spraying. The smell of their pee is much stronger and different than the one of the neutered males. After the surgery, most dogs either stop this behavior because they are not interested in attracting females anymore.

4. Reduces Risk of Health Issues 

The health benefits of spaying a female dog are very significant and important.

  • No risk of getting uterine or ovarian cancer
  • Reduced risk of getting breast cancer
  • No false pregnancy  
  • Prevention of uterine infection known as pyometra

The health benefits of neutering a male dog are also worth it.

  • No risk of getting testicular cancer which is common in dogs
  •  Decreased chances of getting a prostate disease

5. Prevent the Dog From Roaming

Both unspayed female and unneutered male dogs tend to roam and run away from their house, searching for a mating partner. This leads to many lost dogs and exposes them to a lot of danger, such as dog fights and car accidents. 

After spaying and neutering, this behavior decreases a lot, and it can even be completely gone.

6. Decrease Unwanted Behavior

Unspayed and unneutered dogs will display aggressive behavior a lot more than spayed and neutered ones. The reason behind being aggressive is, most of the time, marking their territory.

Besides aggressive behavior, dogs will start humping when they are in heat, especially male dogs. The problem is that they will not only hump dogs but humans and furniture. In some cases, when the owners spay and neuter their pet at older ages, this behavior becomes harder to get rid of and needs a behaviorist’s help.

It is proven that there are a lot of behavioral changes after this surgery. Most pet owners claim that their dogs have become friendlier and calmer. 

7. Cost-effective than raising a litter 

A lot of owners try to skip this surgery to save money. But eventually, almost all of them go back to it because the cost of spaying a dog is less than the cost of raising a litter every year.

Disadvantages of Spaying and Neutering a Dog

1. Reduced Metabolism

Spaying and neutering will reduce a dog’s metabolism. But it is important to know that an overweight dog is the consequence of overfeeding and lack of physical activity and not the spaying and neutering surgery. 

It is important to reduce your pet’s caloric intake after the surgery by 30% and ensure daily exercise to prevent obesity.

2. Joint Problems in Large Breed Dogs

The risk of joint disorders for large breed dogs can be a few times higher compared to dogs left intact (unspayed and unneutered). A study was made that shows that for female dogs over 43 pounds, the risk of developing joint disorder increased from 4 percent for intact dogs to 10-12 percent if spayed before a year of age.

The studies were mainly targeted for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tears and knee injury. 

3. Infection of the Surgical Site 

One of the complications that might happen after any surgery is an infection of the surgical site. This is not very common and can be easily avoided if the right decisions were made. 

What might cause an infection?

  • Your dog might constantly lick their wound and remove their stitches, this is why you should never remove their E-collar without your doctor’s approval.
  • Giving your dog a bath after the surgery without protecting the surgical site.
  • The dog is living in a dirty environment which makes the surgical site more susceptible for bacterial growth.
  • The doctor who did the surgery did not follow a sterile protocol.
  • Sometimes doctors find it best to give antibiotics after the surgery, but some pet owners decide to skip it or do not give it regularly which leads to bacterial growth.

4. Might Be a Little Expensive but Worth It

The cost of spaying a dog ranges from 300$ to 800$ and the cost of neutering a dog ranges from 100$ to 600$. 

The spaying surgery of a female is more complex than the neutering surgery of a male. It requires more time, focus, and surgical materials; this is why it is more expensive.

As we said before, even though for some people this amount of money is too much, it is still better than taking care of new puppies every year and can prevent a lot of diseases that require much more expensive surgeries.

When Is the Best Time To Spay and Neuter a Dog?

Many dog owners have a common question in their mind – when to spay a dog. 

Once you decide that you want to do the surgery, the next step will be to find out when to spay a dog. It all depends on many factors such as the age of your dog, breed, health status, and environment.

1. Age

What age should you neuter a male puppy?

The best time to neuter a dog is above 6 months old. It can be between 6 to 9 months or between 9 to 12 months, it depends mainly on other factors like the breed for example.

What age should you spay a female puppy?

The best time to spay a female dog is above 6 months old and it depends on the breed as well. If you are not looking to have puppies, it is preferable not to wait a long time to do the surgery to prevent unwanted pregnancy. 

Keep in mind that the longer you wait to spay or neuter your dog, the bigger the chance of them developing one or more of the diseases listed above (pyometra, cancer).

2. Breed

If you have a large breed dog, it is better to wait until they are between 9 to 12 months old to prevent joint issues.

If you have a small breed dog, it is okay to do the surgery when they are between 6 to 7 months old.

3. Gender 

Usually, female dogs are spayed before male dogs to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the start of their heat cycle.

4. Health Status

It is very critical and important for your vet to know if your dog has any health issues before going into surgery. Some cases need specialized doctors in anesthesia to spay them to prevent any complications.

If a dog is in a severely bad status, spaying and neutering can wait.

In some cases like pyometra, hepatoid gland adenoma, and ovarian cysts; the treatment is to spay or neuter.

A lot of people wonder if they can spay a dog in heat, the answer is preferably no. The swelling of the uterus can cause complications during the surgery. 

5. Environment  

There are vets like Dr. Becker who believe that if the owners are responsible and the environment where the dog is living is safe, it is better not to spay at an early age. She believes that it is preferable to wait until the dog has fully grown to prevent issues like joint problems and hypothyroidism

This is acceptable for responsible owners who are sure that their dog won’t roam around and get lost or get back with an unwanted pregnancy. Dr. Becker and a lot of other vets insist on some pet owners to spay and neuter their dogs if there might be a chance of mishandling the puppies or anything that puts the life of the dog at risk.

If the dog is a stray, it is for sure very recommended to spay them, especially the females.

How To Make Sure That the Surgery Will Go Well

1. Choose the Right Vet 

Do not run towards the cheap surgeries; instead try to find a trusted, clean and professional vet to do the procedure to prevent infections and complications.

2. Make Sure Your Dog Doesn’t Lick Their Incision Site

Do not remove the E Collar of your dog even if they seem uncomfortable in it. They can remove their sutures so fast that sometimes you won’t even notice that they did. 

A constant licking will for sure lead to an infection. Keep an eye on your pet for a while after the surgery.

3. Check Their Incision Site Regularly 

It is very important to monitor your pet for a week or two after the surgery because, as we mentioned before, accidents can happen really fast. 

Make sure to always check the surgical site and the stitches, and if you notice any infection or removed stitches, you should immediately call your vet.

4. Provide a Clean and Calm Environment 

Another way to prevent infections is to provide a clean environment to prevent bacterial growth and a calm area where there’s no other dog or cat or even human that might hurt them.

Conclusion 

Spaying or neutering a dog has pros and cons, but it is considered the best option to prevent health issues and unwanted behaviors. If you are considering neutering or spaying your dog, you should know when to spay a dog depending on your dog’s age, breed, gender, and environment. 

To ensure everything will go well, you should find the right vet and provide a clean and healthy place for your dog to recover

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