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Advantages and disadvantages of spaying and neutering your dog

by Lana Paws on November 02, 2022

Advantages and disadvantages of spaying and neutering your dog

Many pet parents grapple with the decision of whether or not to get their dogs neutered/spayed. There are all kinds of theories, conflicting information and myths associated with getting your dog/cat ‘fixed,’ which makes it even harder for a pet parent to make an informed decision.

Here are some commonly asked questions and their answers about spaying or neutering dogs (can be applied to cats too).

What distinguishes dog neutering from spaying, to begin with?

It’s simple! Male dogs are neutered while female dogs are spayed. The female dog’s reproductive organs, including the ovaries and uterus, are removed during a spay operation. After being spayed, the female dog can’t get pregnant or go into heat.

The testicles are taken out when a male dog is neutered. The dog won’t be able to reproduce, and any behaviours connected to mating will be reduced or abolished over time.

In general, neutering a dog is an acceptable term for de-sexing both male and female dogs.

Many people have misunderstandings about these procedures. In reality, sterilisation is considered a safe and inexpensive procedure for your dog.

Fortunately, spaying and neutering are not considered painful or difficult procedures. Your dog will be sedated, and the procedure will take approximately 30-45 minutes. Your dog will usually be able to go home the same day as their surgery.

While your veterinarian will give you specific recovery instructions, most dogs will require 10-14 days of limited activity to allow their stitches to heal.

Spaying and neutering procedures can be performed on young dogs. The best time to sterilise your puppy is between the ages of 6-7 months in smaller dogs and 10-12 months in larger dogs. However, before having their dogs spayed or neutered, every dog owner should consult with a veterinarian to determine the best age for their dogs. 

It's crucial to consider the time of the surgery as having the surgery too early in a dog's life can increase the chances of early onset of joint issues in some dogs, as per some recent studies.

So, let’s learn more about spaying and neutering.

Consider sterilising your pet for the following reasons:

  • Reducing overpopulation
  • Having a healthier dog
  • Controlling your pet’s behaviour
  • Avoiding unplanned puppies/ litters
  • Lowering the risk of testicular/ovarian cancer and other diseases in dogs
  • Helping your puppy live a longer life

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF SPAYING/ NEUTERING YOUR PET?

Disease prevention

Regardless of whether your dog is male or female, spaying or neutering can help prevent urinary tract infections, tumours in the breast or testicles, and other diseases related to the reproductive system. According to the experts, it also leads to better prostate and testicular health in male dogs.

This is a significant benefit because urinary tract diseases are common in dogs. Furthermore, as animals age, they are more likely to develop prostate, ovary, uterus, or testicle problems.

Slows down a dog’s sex drive

Many dogs will run away in search of females on heat, and vice versa. A sterilised dog will no longer do this, at least not as frequently or with the same intensity, because his sex drive will be significantly reduced.

Reduce unwanted behaviours

Some dogs could become combative due to unsatisfied sex drive. Perhaps they have more energy than they need and they need an outlet, which leads to aggressive behaviours sometimes. These aggressive behaviours usually disappear or significantly reduce after sterilisation. Dogs will also cease to be aggressive toward other dogs.

Longer life

Spaying can help prevent numerous serious illnesses in your female dog, such as uterine infections and breast cancer. Breast cancer is especially dangerous in dogs, killing about half of all cases. The most effective method of providing this protection is to have your dog spayed prior to her first heat. Neutering can help prevent testicular cancer, which is another serious canine disease.

Helps with controlling overpopulation 

Millions of dogs are homeless, and many more are euthanized or die of unnatural causes each year. You can help prevent a few of our furry friends from becoming homeless or being abandoned in shelters by sterilising your pet.

Prevents heat periods and escaping

When a female dog is in heat, her genitals swell and she emits a scent that can be traced for up to a mile, attracting unwanted attention from male canines. Your female will also have less desire to wander and look for a mate, which often leads to additional dog behaviour issues such as escaping from home and getting lost.

Female dogs in heat will also discharge blood for about 6-12 days (depending on the breed and her age) which is not a pleasant experience for apartment dwellers. 

Prevents pregnancies

Whether deliberate or unintentional, breeding can become a substantial financial and time-consuming burden for dog owners, as well as health risks and responsibilities. When caring for a pregnant dog, there is also a slight risk of death during or shortly after birth. Furthermore, any complications during your dog's pregnancy may result in additional veterinary care bills and additional health risks for the new-born puppies. If you decide to find homes for your new puppies, you may find it much more difficult than you anticipated, especially true for indie/desi dogs unfortunately. Typically, owners must keep the puppies with their mother until they are about 6-8 weeks old before attempting to find them a home.

Additionally, it’s highly irresponsible to allow your pet to mate with other dogs to ‘satisfy’ his sexual desire. Dog breeding is a science and requires knowledge of canine genetics, health, environment among others. If done incorrectly or without this knowledge, it can lead to birth defects and genetic issues over time. This leads to not only a painful and unfulfilling life for the puppy as he/she grows older but also puts a lot of pressure on the owner. Many pet parents can’t afford the mounting medical expenses and give up their dogs.

Most puppies in India are born without giving much thought. Even the so called ‘good’ dog breeders don’t invest any time in studying the canine genetics and are mainly in the business of making money without caring for the quality of the dogs’ lives.

It’s not surprising that many of the mother and father dogs are bred constantly and are kept in horrible conditions without proper nutrition and living conditions, which is well hidden from the prospect buyers.

As animal lovers, let’s not be a part of this cruel, inhumane industry.

CONS OR DISADVANTAGES OF SPAYING/ NEUTERING YOUR PET

  1. Weight Gain: Your dog may become lethargic, tired, and begin to gain weight. Spayed female puppies frequently begin gaining weight quickly after the procedure, most likely due to changes in metabolism and hormonal structure. Weight gain and pet obesity can be avoided by engaging in an adequate amount of routine exercise, understanding pet food and appropriate nutrition, and providing your pet with a healthy and stress-free lifestyle.
  2. Hypothyroidism: During the surgery, your dog's endocrine system is affected resulting in low thyroid levels and hence weight gain and obesity.
  3. Complications: Because the procedure requires general anesthesia, there is a chance your pet will react negatively to the medication. Some puppies might face slight complications in response to anesthesia. If the surgery is performed at the wrong age or incorrectly, it could lead to more serious complications in some dogs such as bone related issues, urine incontinence etc. Sterilisation may also increase the risk of cancers such as lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma in some dogs 
  4. Change in coat: Some dogs' coats may change after neutering, with the fur appearing fuzzy,denser, or rougher than before.

General queries regarding sterilizing your pet

What’s the best age to spay/neuter your pet?

As per studies the best age to neuter your pet is between 6-8 months in small dogs and 10-12 months in big dogs. Please consult your vet to discuss the right time to spay/neuter your dog.

Will sterilisation help calm down my dog?

In general, neutering a dog is not a guaranteed way to calm him/her dog down. Training is usually the best option, but it may help with certain unwanted behaviours such as aggression, escaping and excessive barking in dogs. 

Is it cruel to sterilize my pet?

It is a complete myth that spaying and neutering is harmful to your pet. The procedure helps your dog live a healthier life by preventing various types of cancers and other illnesses.

Should I spay/neuter my pet before or after their first heat?

It is recommended from a medical standpoint to sterilise your dog before their first heat. This helps to lower health risks like mammary tumours. However, sterlising your dog too early is not advisable either. It's best to consult your vet to know the correct time of surgery for your dog.

Does spaying/neutering alter your dog’s personality?

Post procedure your dog could have reduced aggression and slight changes in behaviour such as increased anxiety or clinginess but they usually don't last beyond a short period of time. If you have an anxious dog, it is best to wait until they are more mature and develop a more sustainable temperament. It's highly recommended to consult your vet to discuss the appropriate age for the surgery.

It is imperative to make an informed decision about spaying/neutering your pet. Consult your vet to get a complete picture of the procedure and post-procedure care you need to give your dog.

Also Read: How much to feed my dog

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