Are you wondering what neutering or spaying your dog entails and when it needs done? Here, our Novato vets help you understand the basics of these surgical procedures.
Spaying or neutering your dog, otherwise known as "fixing" your dog, are elective surgeries that involve the sterilization of an animal.
According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), around 6.5 million animals enter rescue systems or shelters across the United States each year. Of those animals, less than half are adopted as pets.
Spaying or neutering your pet is one of the best ways to do your part to reduce the number of unplanned puppies born each year and lighten the load of shelters and rescues.
What are the differences between spaying and neutering?
Neutering Male Dogs
Neutering is often called castration and it involves the removal of both testicles from your male dog along with the associated internal structures. After this procedure, your dog won't be able to reproduce.
There are alternative options, like vasectomies, for male dogs. However, these options aren't usually performed.
Spaying Female Dogs
Spaying describes the removal of a female dog's reproductive organs, either by an ovariectomy( removing the ovaries) or an ovariohysterectomy (the removal of the uterus and ovaries).
After being spayed, your dog won't enter heat any longer, and ill not be able to have puppies.
When should you have your dog spayed or neutered?
There are a wide range of factors you will need to keep in mind when considering when to have your dog spayed or neutered. Both procedures can be performed on puppies as young as a couple of months old. And traditionally, puppies are fixed by the time they are 4 to 6 months of age.
The timing of a spay or neuter for your dog will depend on many different things. Larger dogs mature slower than medium or smaller ones so they should be fixed later. Many vets recommend that females be spayed before they enter their first heat cycle. And, if you have adopted male and female puppies about the same age, have them spayed and neutered both before the female's first heat.
You should always consult your vet about the timing of your pup's spay or neuter. They will conduct a full physical exam and consult your dog's medical history before conducting the procedure to minimize the risk of complications.
What are the benefits of spaying or neutering my dog?
On top of eliminating the risk of an unwanted litter of puppies, there are a wide range of benefits to consider when neutering or spaying your dog.
Spaying your female dog will drastically reduce their risk of developing mammary cancer and pyometra, two potentially life-threatening conditions. And while it is not always the case, generally being spayed will put a stop to your female pup's instinctive breeding behaviors.
Neutering male dogs will help to prevent testicular cancer as well as cutting back on a number of undesirable behaviors. These include aggression, humping, howling and roaming. All of this can help to prevent unfortunate events such as fights with other dogs or being struck by a vehicle.
What are the risks of spaying or neutering my dog?
While these surgeries and quite common and safe, they still should be performed by an experienced and qualified vet, as there is some small risk involved. But this is the case with any surgery which requires general anesthesia.
What does the recovery process look like?
Your vet will recommend specific pain management and post-operative care for you to provide your pup after surgery, but here are some general rules to keep in mind while your dog recovers.
- Refrain from bathing your dog for at least 10 days following surgery.
- For up to two weeks after the procedure, prevent your dog from running, jumping, or undertaking other strenuous activities.
- Check your dog’s incision daily to ensure it’s healing correctly. Contact your vet if you notice swelling, redness, or discharge.
- Keep your dog inside and away from other animals as they heal.