There are different myths surrounding the spaying and neutering procedures for dogs. It is rumored that spay and neuter procedures will cause a dog to get fat. And yet, such a risk is entirely dependent on how much exercise and food a dog gets. Another spay and neuter myth warns that a dog will become lazy. And yet, there is no proof that spaying or neutering has anything to do with teaching our dogs to take full advantage of the comfortable life we give them. Finally, it is rumored that females should not be spayed until they have at least one litter. But, once more, there is no evidence to suggest any long term benefits to be gained from the short term hormonal changes associated with heat and pregnancy.
So what is the naked truth about dog spaying and neutering? This article will examine the benefits and risks of spay and neuter procedures, and give you all the information you need to make an educated decision about whether to spay or neuter your dog.
What Actually Happens During Spaying (for females)?
Spaying is a surgical procedure that is done under full anesthesia. Once the dog is asleep, her stomach is shaved and sterilized, before the veterinary surgeon cuts a thin incision behind the dog’s belly button. Now the blood vessels that supply the ovaries are clamped off, to prevent bleeding during the spaying procedure. The uterus is also clamped off from the cervix for the same reason. During the next step in the spaying procedure, the uterus is cut away from the cervix and is removed along with the ovaries. Before closing the abdomen the veterinary surgeon will look for any signs of bleeding, to make sure the spaying procedure went as expected.
Though spaying sounds painful, remember that the dog is asleep and is given pain medication in her IV. After waking from her spaying procedure, the dog will be groggy from the anesthesia and pain medication. You will be given more oral pain medication to take home with you. Within a few hours of dropping your dog off at the vet’s for her spaying, you will be able to take her home. Two weeks of rest are recommended after spaying, and yet most dogs recover within a few days. Puppies will recover the fastest. If dissolving sutures were not used during spaying, you will have to bring your dog to the vet to have the sutures removed in 10 to 14 days.
What Actually Happens During Neutering (for males)?
Neutering is a surgical procedure that is done under full anesthesia. Once the dog is asleep, the area of his testicles is shaved and sterilized, before the veterinary surgeon cuts a thin incision through the scrotum. During the next step of the neutering procedure, each testicle is pushed into the incision in turn, then tied off to prevent bleeding as it is cut away. Before suturing the neutering incision, the veterinary surgeon will check for any signs of bleeding resulting from the neutering procedure.
Remember that the dog is asleep and feels no pain. Waking after neutering, the dog is likely to feel groggy from the anesthesia and the pain medication he received in his IV. You will be given oral pain medication to give your dog while he recovers from the neutering procedure. A week of rest is typically sufficient for recovery, although younger dogs will recover faster. If dissolving sutures were not used during neutering, you will have to bring your dog to the vet to have the sutures removed in 10 to 14 days.
What Are the Benefits of Spaying and Neutering?
In addition to reducing the general dog population and the resultant number of homeless dogs, there are health benefits to spaying or neutering your dog. For one thing, you need not be concerned with the dog’s reproductive cycle and the precautions you will have to take to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Spaying will greatly reduce the risk of old-age mammary cancer in female dogs that were spayed before their first heat. Neutering will greatly reduce the risk of prostate abnormalities in neutered male dogs. In addition, in case of severe infection in the reproductive organs, their removal through spaying and neutering can save the life of the dog. Finally, there are behavior patterns that spaying and neutering will diminish or limit altogether, such as a tendency to run away and roam, or to mark walls and furniture with urine, as well as show signs of aggression and mount the shins of guests to your home.
What Are the Risks of Spaying and Neutering?
Surgery is an invasive treatment that can lead to uncommon, yet possible, complications. To reduce the risk of complications due to the anesthesia, ask your vet to run a blood test before the spaying or neutering procedure to determine if your dog is at risk of having adverse effects to anesthesia. In addition, it is a rare possibility that females may experience urinary incontinence after spaying. While every six dogs out of 1,000 may experience an increased likelihood of certain types of tumors after being spayed or neutered.
How to Decide if to Spay or Neuter Your Dog?
If you would like to have a puppy litter with your dog, you are obviously willing to take on the extra work and responsibility involved. Prepare yourself for dealing with the frequency of “heat” periods in female dogs, and the constant urine spots from male dogs. In addition, plan ahead so your dog will meet the right doggie friend at the right time. This will shorten the heat period by brining pregnancy on when you want it.
If you don’t necessarily want puppies, but neither are you sure you want to go ahead with spaying or neutering your dog, take a full view of the benefits and risks. Your lifestyle with a dog that is not spayed or neutered will be much more labor intensive. Expect males to go roaming after females and to urinate frequently to mark their territory. Expect females to bleed and to become restless, also seeking to escape and roam outdoors for a mate. And remember that male dogs that are not neutered may father many unwanted puppies; while a female dog that is not spayed may return home pregnant with a litter of three or five puppies that you will somehow have to care for. Finally, find out if your dog’s breed has a predisposition to certain ailments that spaying and neutering can diminish.
Discover more health related articles from the same author, such as understanding and treating obsessive paw licking (Lick Granuloma), the full facts about intestinal parasites in dogs, 10 dog diseases common to all dog breeds, and how to cure dog car sickness, as well as Spring safety tips for dogs,
Source:Dogs USA, “Altered States”, Vol 25, pp128-135.