Spaying and Neutering Dogs 101

Do you have any questions about the process of neutering or spaying your dog? When should you have it completed? Alternatively, what risks are associated with the procedure? Our Sharpsburg veterinarians are here to help you understand the fundamentals of these surgical procedures.

Spaying or neutering your dog, otherwise known as "fixing" your dog, are elective surgeries that involve the sterilization of an animal.

Approximately 6.5 million animals enter rescue systems or shelters across the United States each year, according to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Less than half of those animals are adopted as pets.

Spaying or neutering your pet is one of the best ways to do your part to reduce the number of unplanned puppies born each year and lighten the load of shelters and rescues.

What are the differences between spaying and neutering?

Below are the differences in spaying versus neutering.

Neutering Male Dogs

Neutering is also known as castration, and it entails the removal of both testicles from your male dog, as well as the internal structures that go with them. Your dog will not be able to reproduce after this procedure.

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 won't enter heat any longer, and ill not be able to have puppies.

When should you have your dog spayed or neutered?

There are several factors to consider when deciding when to have your dog spayed or neutered. Both procedures can be performed on puppies as young as a few months old. Between the ages of 4 and 6 months, puppies are also traditionally fixed.

Several factors will influence when your dog will be spayed or neutered. Larger dogs should be fixed later than medium or small dogs because they mature more slowly. Many veterinarians recommend spaying females before their first heat cycle. If you've adopted both male and female puppies around the same age, spay or neuter them both before the female's first heat.

Always consult your veterinarian when it comes to the timing of your puppy's spay or neuter. Before performing the procedure, they will perform a full physical exam and consult your dog's medical history to reduce the risk of complications.

What are the benefits of spaying or neutering my 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. 

Your female dog's chances of developing mammary cancer and pyometra, two potentially fatal diseases, are greatly reduced if she is spayed. Spaying your female puppy will usually put an end to her natural breeding instincts, though this isn't always the case.

Neutered male dogs are less likely to develop testicular cancer and to engage in a variety of undesirable behaviors. These behaviors include aggression, huffing, howling, and roaming. All of this can help you avoid unpleasant situations like dogfights or being hit by a car.

What are the risks of spaying or neutering my dog?

Even though these procedures are common and safe, they should only be performed by a qualified and experienced veterinarian due to the small risk involved. This is true, however, of any surgery that requires general anesthesia.

What does the recovery process look like?

Your veterinarian will advise you on specific pain management and post-operative care for your dog after surgery, but there are some general guidelines to follow while your dog recovers.

  • Refrain from bathing your dog for at least 10 days following surgery.
  • 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.
  • Keep your dog inside and away from other animals as they heal.

Has your dog been spayed or neutered? Contact our Sharpsburg vets today to get more information about these procedures and to book your appointment!