Dog Neutering and Spaying

Kelly Roper
Dog sitting by the gate

Dog neutering and spaying are highly effective methods of controlling canine overpopulation.

Why Dog Neutering and Spaying Is Important

As the number of unwanted pets grows every year, animal shelters around the country are often filled to capacity with dogs and cats that have no other place to go. Each new litter born only lessens the chance that any of these animals will find permanent, loving homes.

Funding for animal shelters is limited, and donations are frequently relied on to keep the doors open. During uncertain economic times, donation levels drop and leave many shelters in a precarious position.

With all this in mind, it's easy to understand why it's more important than ever for owners to carefully consider whether or not their pets should be allowed to breed. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you sure you will have homes waiting for the pups?
  • Are you willing and financially/physically able to keep each pup that doesn't find a permanent home?

These are tough issues that deserve careful consideration before forging ahead with a breeding.

Neutering and spaying are both terms used to refer to the surgical removal of a pet's reproductive organs. Although any type of surgery carries certain risks, these procedures are routinely performed on males and females as young as four weeks old, but normally on animals eight to sixteen weeks old. This permanently eliminates the possibility of producing future litters.

Advantages

Beyond limiting the population growth, neutering and spaying provides other benefits for dogs and owners, including:

  • Less the display of aggressive or dominant canine behaviors
  • Less nuisance mounting
  • Less roaming from the yard
  • Less incidence of breast tumors in females
  • Cessation of heat cycles and bleeding in females
  • Less territorial urine marking
  • Prevention of reproductive tract infections, tumors and cancers

Addressing Weight Gain

Dog neutering and spaying results in lowered hormone levels that can leave some dogs feeling less active. Sometimes this leads to an undesirable weight gain. To avoid this gain and the possibility of developing related health problems down the road, owners will need to monitor their pet's activity level and adjust his or her diet accordingly. If your pet is especially fond of mealtime, you can try increasing his exercise with daily walks instead. The important thing is to find that all important balance between diet and exercise to help your dog remain healthy.

The Procedures

Understanding how each spay/neuter procedure is carried out will give you a better idea of what to expect during the recovery period following surgery.

Neutering Males

The procedure is relatively simple for male dogs. Removal of the testicles, also referred to as castration, is necessary to prevent reproduction. Under anaesthetic, an incision is made into the scrotum, the testicles are removed and the vessels are sutured. The scrotum is then stitched/glued closed, and the patient will usually receive an antibiotic injection to help prevent infection.

Recovery time is fairly quick with most males acting like their old selves within 48 hours, although the site may remain tender a bit longer. Dissolving sutures and surgical glue are normally used for this procedure, so a follow up visit usually isn't necessary unless there are signs of infection or rupture.

Spaying Females

The procedure for spaying females is considered major surgery just like a human hysterectomy. Under general anesthesia, an incision is made into the female's abdomen and the complete uterus and ovaries are removed. Dissolving sutures are used internally and sometimes externally, but often the outer incision is closed with surgical staples that must be removed approximately ten days after the surgery, necessitating a follow up visit with the vet. The female will receive an antibiotic injection immediately after surgery and will also receive antibiotic tablets to be given during the remaining recovery period.Females take longer to recover from this procedure, usually about fourteen days, but the surgical site may remain tender some time.

Post Surgical Signs of Infection

Once you take your pet home, it's crucial to follow your veterinarian's care instructions to the letter. Even under the best of circumstances, dog neutering and spaying can lead to post surgical infections, so be sure to inspect the incision twice daily during the healing period to be certain it remains clean and uninfected.

Warning signs to watch for include:

  • Redness, irritation, and/or swelling at the incision
  • An excessively hot feeling around the scar
  • Bleeding or foul discharge at the incision
  • A temperature greater than 102 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Listless behavior more than 24 hours after surgery
  • Pet refuses food and water
  • Pet has difficulty relieving itself

If your pet displays any of these signs, report it to your vet immediately.

The Cost

Veterinary fees vary, but your pet's size, sex, and age all play a role in determining the cost of the procedure. Spaying females is significantly more expensive than neutering males because the procedure is so much more invasive.

If cost is a major consideration, owners might be able to have their dogs spayed or neutered at a reduced cost through their local Humane Society or animal shelter. These organizations frequently work with area vets to provide spay/neuter vouchers to those in need.

Importance of Spaying and Neutering Your Dog

Pet overpopulation is a growing problem that needs to be addressed in a responsible manner. Neutering and spaying is a proactive solution to this problem that will cut down on the number of unwanted pets and greatly reduce the number of animals that are euthanized each year.

Additional Resources

  • SpayUSA.org is a referral network for affordable spay/neuter services.
  • Pets911.com is a resource directory of animal shelters in the USA.
Dog Neutering and Spaying