Deciding if (and when) to neuter and spay your boy or girl dog is an important question. It can be one of the biggest decisions in a pet parent’s life. For example, you may have concerns about potential mental and physical health drawbacks neutering/spaying could have for your pup.
February is Spay and Neuter Awareness Month. As a result, we’re looking at what it means to neuter and spay your dog. And whether you should.
Neuter and spay – how desexing is done
Depending on a pup’s breed and size, they can be desexed from around five months onwards. For females, the process is called spaying and involves surgical removal of the ovaries. In male dogs, the process is called neutering and involves removing the testicles.
For each same-day operation, a vet performs this while your pup is under general anaesthetic. Dogs can generally return home once they’ve woken up.
Having said that, it can take 10 to 14 days for them to fully recover. Be ready with some serious TLC.
Before desexing your dog, take note of the following:
- Prepare a warm and quiet area for them to come home to after the procedure, including water bowl, food bowl and dog bed
- Don’t feed pup any food for 12 hours before going in
- Make sure he/she is clean and washed before going in
- Get your pup to do their toileting routine before the operation
- For preparing to give any prescribed medication after the operation, find out how to give medicine to your puppy
Further on the recovery area you prepare for their arrival home, make sure the room doesn’t have any stairs or such that can lead to your newly-stitched pet injuring itself. Also ensure you’ve puppy pads or similar if it needs to go to the toilet.
You should have wipes/towels on hand too, in case your dog vomits while recovering (common after surgery). You’ll want to have the dog bed covered with a blanket or similar for this reason.
Importantly, no children or other pets should be allowed in. Your dog will be sore, and you want to minimise any risk of it becoming aggressive or trying to move around too much.
Medical benefits of desexing your dog
Experts say the benefits of desexing your dog outweigh any perceived drawbacks. Let’s look at what these are…
We spoke to Carolyn Press-McKenzie, founder and CEO of HUHA, to get her advice on desexing your dog. “I think that it’s something most pets should have done, so they’re able to live their life without the stress and pressure of going into season.”
“So many animals come to us after being hit by a car because they’ve been roaming looking for a ’friend’. And with the boys, they’re less likely to get prostate cancer or testicular cancer. Desexing also removes the testosterone edge and aggression.”
It’s interesting to note that while sexual aggression in males is reduced, they continue to be good guard dogs. Their instinct to guard territory remains intact.
Pet parents often wonder if their female pup should have a litter before being spayed. Think carefully about this – what are the benefits to the animal of having puppies? You may find the advantages of desexing after a litter don’t actually outweigh the advantages of doing it prior.
For example, spaying before the first heat means female dogs are less likely to get mammary tumours when they’re older. Mammary tumours are the most common malignant tumors in female dogs. They can cause pet obesity in dogs and can often be life threatening.
Drawbacks of desexing your dog
Of course desexing is not for everyone’s dog. Some experts and owners prefer to keep pup intact.
For example, some pet parents want the experience of puppies and are committed to finding them a great forever home. Or they’re keen to keep a healthy horde (careful not to be a hoarder)!
In either case, make sure you have the time and resources to ensure your dog can have a healthy pregnancy. This means plenty of exercise, rest, pregnancy vitamins and a pregnancy planned diet etc.
A paper from Rutgers University on Animal Sciences says the decision should be made according to specific conditions. For example, gender, age and breed as well as long-term care, housing and training.
According to this research, desexing dogs can have medical complications too. Some possibilities are:
- Increased chance of bone cancer
- Higher risk of orthopedic disorders
- Greater risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations
- Triples the risk of hypothyroidism
However, the research also reiterates that health benefits of desexing (female) dogs may exceed potential problems.
For example, spaying nearly eliminates the risk of pyometra, an infection in the uterus. Pyometra affects roughly 23% of intact female dogs and can be fatal. In addition, the reduced risk of mammary tumours also is significant as 50-60% of mammary tumors are malignant. With male dogs, neutering may reduce the chances of diabetes.
Why you should desex your dog in New Zealand
In New Zealand, over 41,000 animals come through the SPCA’s doors each year. Many of these are unwanted puppies. Owners have let their dog get accidentally (or intentionally) pregnant by failing to desex them.
That’s not all. The tally of unwanted pets is filling up animal shelters across the country. Many shelters are already overpopulated. As a result, countless unwanted puppies are put down. At Auckland Council animal shelters, almost eight dogs are euthanised a day.
World Spay Day – 23 February 2021
World Spay Day is an annual celebration that helps highlight Spay and Neuter Awareness Month. Many shelters see an influx of unwanted puppies (and kittens) in February – born in the spring and summer months.
What will you do about your furry loved one’s ability to produce litters? Perhaps you should get dog insurance that covers desexing, microchipping, vet visits and more?
Neuter and spay – over to you
For anyone thinking “But the queen bred multi-generations of Corgis. Why shouldn’t I?” then think again. The queen has inhouse staff, a queen-size salary, and a palace. So ample room and resources. For those of us who lead normal lives, let’s just focus on giving our dogs their best life.
Let us know if this article was helpful and share your thoughts in the comments. We’re all (big, floppy) ears.