Preventive care using vaccinations, wellness exams and preventive surgeries can help to ensure the lifelong health of your dog. Our Greeley vet surgeons talk about how spaying and neutering veterinary surgery can help protect your dog.
Spaying or Neutering Your Dog
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) states that about 6.5 million animals go to shelters or the rescue system across the United States every year. Only about 3.2 million are adopted by families.
Spaying or neutering your dog is the best measure you can take to help reduce the overall number of unplanned puppies each year, and reduce the numbers overwhelming shelters and rescues. Plus, this surgical procedure will improve your pet’s behavior and reduce its risk of developing numerous serious health conditions.
What is the difference between spaying and neutering?
Let’s first establish what 'fixing your dog' means. ‘Fixing’ is a popular term used to describe spaying or neutering surgery for a dog.
Spaying Surgery For Female Dogs
Spaying involves removing a female dog’s reproductive organs via either an ovariectomy (removing only the ovaries) or an ovariohysterectomy (removing both uterus and ovaries).
After the veterinary surgeon has spayed your female dog, her heat cycle will be eliminated and she will not be able to have puppies.
Neutering Surgery For Male Dogs
Neutering is also known as castration and involves a vet removing both testicles, along with their associated structures. Your neutered dog will be unable to reproduce.
Though alternative options, such as vasectomies for male dogs (where the tubes which conduct sperm from the testes are severed) are available, they are not usually performed.
Benefits of Spay and Neuter Surgery For Dogs
In addition to drastically reducing the risk of unwanted puppies, there are many benefits to consider when it comes to spaying or neutering surgery for your dog.
By spaying your female dog, you’ll prevent serious health problems such as mammary cancer and pyometra (a potentially life-threatening uterine infection).
Though instinctive breeding behavior will usually stop, that is not always true for every dog.
Neuter your male dog and you’ll help prevent him from developing testicular cancer, along with cutting back on unwanted behaviors such as humping (usually - depending on the age of the dog and other factors), and behavioral issues such as aggression and straying. This helps keep them from such tragedies as getting into fights with other dogs or being hit by a car.
When Is The Right Time For Spay and Neuter Veterinary Surgery?
You’ll need to consider several factors when thinking about the right time for the spaying or neutering surgery. However, both procedures can be performed on puppies as young as a few months old. Traditionally, puppies have been fixed when they have reached between 4 and 6 months old.
Did you know a dog’s breed and living situation can make a difference when it comes to when you should neuter or spay them? Typically larger dogs tend to mature a little slower than smaller pups.
Adopting a male and female from the same age range? Have them spayed and neutered earlier before the female goes into heat. But if your new puppy is the only “intact” dog who will be living in the house, you can wait a little longer.
Adult size is an important factor for male dogs. While small and medium male dogs can generally be neutered earlier (at about 6 months old), your vet may recommend until your giant breed puppy matures to a year or older before having him neutered.
Most vets would recommend having your female dog spayed before she enters her first heat cycle to significantly reduce her risk for developing dog breast (mammary) cancer. Though this timeline varies, this usually happens somewhere between 5 to 10 months of age.
Ask your veterinary surgeon in Greeley about when the best time would be to spay or neuter your dog. No matter when you choose to have the procedure done, ensure your dog gets a complete physical exam (your vet may order blood work if required) before to ensure he or she has no existing health issues.
Discuss your dog’s complete medical history with your veterinary surgeon, as current prescription medications or underlying conditions such as heart murmurs, and kidney or liver issues may need further investigation.
What Are The Risks Involved With Veterinary Spay or Neuter Surgery?
Spaying and neutering are common surgical procedures, but they still need to be performed by a qualified and experienced veterinary surgeon, as some degree of risk is involved with any veterinary surgery requiring general anesthesia.
Some orthopedic conditions and diseases such as prostatic cancer are slightly more common in dogs who have been spayed or neutered.
However, the advantages of spaying or neutering a dog will outweigh the disadvantages in most cases.
What To Expect During Recovery After Veterinary Surgery
Your veterinary surgeon can recommend pain management techniques and prescribe pain medication in case it’s required. Though your dog may be recovering well and feeling playful, do not let him or her run around before they are healed.
You can help ensure your dog has a comfortable, safe recovery from a spaying or neutering surgery by taking some of these precautions:
- Check your dog’s incision daily to ensure it’s healing correctly. If you notice swelling, discharge, redness, or a foul odor, contact your vet immediately as this could be a sign of infection.
- Contact your vet if your dog seems lethargic or uncomfortable, has a reduced or non-existent appetite, has diarrhea, or is vomiting.
- Have your dog wear a cone (commonly known as a “cone of shame”) or another accessory that will help prevent them from licking their incision site, which could lead to infection. Your vet can recommend the appropriate cone for your dog.
- Refrain from bathing your dog for at least 10 days following veterinary surgery.
- For up to two weeks after surgery (or as long as your vet advises), prevent your dog from running around or jumping.
- Keep your dog inside, away from other animals as he or she recovers.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.