Spaying and neutering is a very common procedure performed by veterinarians. The procedure has many advantages for the health and general well-being of the animal. However, any surgical procedure has its risks and disadvantages.
But why do we perform this procedure on our animals and at what age is it advisable to do it?
We answer your questions.
In the female dog
Why should I have my dog spayed?
The ultimate goal of this procedure is to avoid any reproduction. The procedure called ovariectomy consists in surgically removing the ovaries of the female dog, making the act totally irreversible. If you wish to breed your female dog, spaying is not for you.
The health benefits of spaying a female dog
A spay is often synonymous with a reduction of the risks on the following pathologies:
Nervous pregnancies or pseudopregnancy
Following a heat period, when the hormones are regulated, the female dog will behave and produce milk as if she were pregnant.
This pathology may require medication to be stopped. It can also cause the female dog to feel unwell and expect to give birth when nothing is going to happen.
Serious pathology that can lead to the death of the female if not treated in time. Spaying is the only permanent way to avoid this kind of infection.
Hormonal in origin, the tumors are malignant in half of the cases. Nervous pregnancies increase the risk of mammary tumors, as the nipples will naturally increase in size producing milk.
Other pathologies such as uterine tumors and ovarian cysts can appear as the dog ages. A spay allows to avoid them.
The benefits of spaying on the small inconveniences of everyday life
You may have already experienced it at least once, heat waves can become quite annoying. For three weeks, twice a year, heat will result in blood loss and changes in your female's behavior.
She may become more cuddly, or more reactive. She may want to run away, or fight with other dogs. She will also produce pheromones that will attract males, who will want to meet her and mark territory with their urine.
Spaying will obviously save you the inconvenience of having to deal with a litter of unwanted puppies. Although very cute, it's a long job from the time of mating until the puppies are weaned and ready to go to their new family.
The disadvantages of spaying
First of all, the price (count a minimum of 300€ for a female). Post-operative care is minimal, the scar is located under the abdomen, your female will have to wear a collar for a few days to avoid removing the threads and infecting the wound. Some veterinarians use self-resolving wires, others will need to be removed during a second appointment.
Because the surgical procedure is not without risk, a surgeon will only perform the procedure on a dog that is in good general health (to tolerate the anesthesia well).
Some post-operative risks may include incontinence (the sphincter no longer retaining urine). This incontinence can be corrected surgically, or with medication.
Some spayed females are more likely to become overweight, so it is advisable to reduce portion sizes slightly compared to unspayed females.
Some report a higher risk of dysplasia, as neutering can cause increased ligament laxity.
Why neuter my male dog?
Castration is the surgical removal of both testicles and/or a vasectomy. The canal that transports sperm to the penis is then ligated.
The benefits for the male are more behavioral than medical.
Health benefits of castration for males
Castration will allow you to avoid pathologies related to testicular tumors and finally avoid any pathology related to the prostate.
Dogs with testicular ectopia or testicular torsion will be automatically castrated.
The benefits on the small inconveniences of daily life
Males will tend to run away if they sense the presence of pheromones from a female in heat. They will also have a tendency to mark their territory with their urine (at home or elsewhere). They can be more aggressive with other males and even show dominant behaviors when they are not neutered. However, this should be checked with each dog, as not all dogs are affected by these behavior problems.
The disadvantages of a castration
The price is less important than a sterilization for a female, it will be necessary to count around 150€.
As for females, each surgical procedure involves risks and requires a general anesthesia which will only be performed on healthy dogs.
It is also advisable to reduce the food portions in castrated dogs, which are also prone to overweight.
It is important to mention that castration does not automatically stop behavioral problems in males, so consider this when making your decision.
Castration before the end of the growth period can lead to increased growth, because of the non-closure of the cartilages, following the disappearance of hormones. This growth can also eventually lead to ligament or bone problems.
At what age should I spay/neuter?
You will often hear that a female dog should not be spayed until she has had a litter (she would have the baby blues) but this belief is absolutely false.
Some people recommend waiting until the first heat appears (which usually means that growth is over). The first heat usually appears between 6 to 8 months in small breed dogs and between 10 to 12 months in larger breeds.
The subject is quite divided, as some advocate early spaying and neutering, which is very common in the United States.
Of course, you should discuss this with your veterinarian, as the answer is not universal and may depend on several factors.
At what age should I neuter my dog?
We can't base it on the first heat, because the male is not concerned. However, the recommendations are adapted to females (6 to 8 months for small dogs, 10 to 12 months for large dogs).
Some countries, such as the United States, recommend early sterilization of puppies that have not finished growing. Some breeders practice early sterilization to prevent their dogs from being used for breeding purposes.
Advantages include cost (often related to the weight of the animal), as well as the ease of the operation (less fat, organs are smaller and easier to remove). Post-operative recovery is often easier, less painful and shorter. The risk of the above mentioned pathologies developing is also drastically reduced.
In terms of disadvantages, reports indicate orthopedic considerations on large breed dogs. The dog neutered at a young age will be larger because the growth plates close up to 4 months after the absence of hormones. This obviously affects the joints.
Some reports also mention social problems in dogs neutered at a young age.
The subject is very divided, nobody has been able to convince whether early neutering brings more advantages than standard neutering.
Is neutering mandatory?
It is in certain situations, as well as for certain targeted breeds.
Dog breeds called "dangerous" (such as Pitbull, Mastiff or Tosa), listed in France since 1999, must be spayed or neutered. When you adopt from a shelter, the dogs are also automatically sterilized to limit uncontrolled reproduction.
See you soon on The Pets Ark !
The Pets Ark family