Are you deciding whether or not to have your dog spayed or neutered? If so, we want you to know that this type of pet surgery is common and safe. Here, our Powder Springs vets share some key details you should know about spay and neuter surgeries for dogs, including the differences between these procedures and how you can help your pup recover.
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 every year. Of those animals, less than half are adopted as pets.
Spaying and neutering your pet is one of the best ways you can help reduce the number of unplanned puppies born each year and lighten the load of shelters and rescues.
The Differences Between Spay & Neuter Procedures
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 will no longer heat and won't be able to have puppies.
When To Have Your Dog Spayed or Neutered
There are various factors you will need to keep in mind when deciding if you want to have your dog spayed or neutered. Both procedures can be safely performed on puppies that are only a couple of months old. And traditionally, puppies are fixed by the time they are 4 to 6 months of age.
The recommended time for your dog's spay or neuter surgery will depend on a handful of factors. Larger dogs mature slower than medium or smaller ones so they should be fixed later. Lots of vets recommend having females spayed before they enter their first heat cycle. And, if you have adopted male and female puppies that are about the same age, have them both spayed and neutered before the female's first heat.
You should always consult your vet about the timing of your pup's spay or neuter procedure. They will conduct a full physical exam and consult your dog's medical history before conducting the procedure to minimize the risk of complications.
The Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Dog
On top of eliminating the risk of an unwanted litter of puppies, there is 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 isn't 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 cut 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.
The Risks of Spay & Neuter Surgery For Dogs
While these surgeries are relatively common and safe, they should still be performed by an experienced and qualified vet or veterinary surgeon, as there is a small level of risk involved. But this is the case with any veterinary surgery that requires general anesthesia.
Your Dog's Recovery Process
Your vet will prescribe specific pain management and post-operative care instructions, to help you provide your dog with the required level of postoperative care. However, we have listed some general rules to keep in mind during your dog's recovery.
- Keep your dog inside and away from other animals as they heal.
- 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.
- Refrain from bathing your dog for at least 10 days following surgery.