Bringing a dog into your family can be hugely rewarding and can also bring many years of joy. Likewise, it can also bring many unforeseen circumstances and mishaps. One of the hardest things to go through is when your pet becomes ill or is injured. It can be hugely upsetting and very costly.
Should I neuter my Dog?
Neutering (male dogs)/spaying (female dogs) your beloved dog should definitely be done. By neutering your male dog or spaying your female dog, you can reduce the risk of serious illness or cancer and help them live longer healthier lives.
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What is neutering/spaying?
Neutering or castration is the surgical removal of the testicles of a male dog. It is done under general anesthesia. If there are no complications your dog will be sent home the same day and asked to return a few days later to check the wound is healing well. Your dog will probably require a few days of reduced exercise.
If you are unsure about neutering or castration you can also opt for chemical castration. This is an injection that reduces the hormones and has a similar effect of neutering although it does not provide the same protection against testicular cancer or prostate hyperplasia. The injection usually has to be repeated after approximately 6 months.
Spaying or ovariohysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries from a female dog. This surgery is done under general anesthesia. If there are no complications your dog will be sent home the same day and asked to return to check the wound is healing. Your dog will probably require 7-10 days of reduced exercise.
Health benefits of neutering/spaying your dog
- Un-neutered dogs run a high risk of testicular cancer. By removing the testicles you remove the risk of these tumors which are common in un-neutered dogs.
- Benign prostate hyperplasia (enlargement of the prostate) is also common in un-neutered dogs. This can cause problems for the dog trying to urinate or poop.
- Un-spayed dogs can suffer from pyometra (infection of the uterus), this can occur the more seasons/heats that the dog goes through. If left untreated it can be fatal. Spaying your dog prevents pyometra.
- Spaying your dog reduces the risk of mammary tumors, which can turn cancerous and be fatal for some dogs.
- Pregnancy and whelping can also be risky for your dog. An obstructed labor can prove fatal if emergency vet assistance is not available or reached in time.
Behavioral benefits of neutering/spaying your dog
As well as the health benefits of neutering/spaying your dog, there are also some behavioral benefits to having your dog neutered/spayed. As the removal of certain hormones can reduce the influences of certain behaviors in dogs.
- Reduce the tendency to escape and roam. An un-neutered dog has strong urges to find a mate and will escape trying to find one. They can smell a female in heat from quite a distance (sometimes miles) and will do whatever it takes to find her.
- Remove urine marking – especially in the home. A neutered dog will not mark its territory the way an un-neutered dog will.
- Help in training. Neutering and spaying can help dogs in training as it removes the distraction of finding a mate. They will be more focussed on the task and less likely to run off to try and mount another dog.
- Calm down boisterous behavior. Both male and female dogs tend to calm down after they have been neutered or spayed.
- Prevent unwanted attention from other dogs. An un-spayed or un-neutered dog often receives unwanted attention from other dogs.
In the case of un-neutered dogs, they can receive negative reactions from neutered dogs, as they can smell the hormones on them. This can often lead to fights.
As a dog walker, I have seen this first hand. It doesn’t matter if your un-neutered dog is well behaved or a bit timid, dogs can smell the hormones and react to them, often negatively.
- Reduce dog bites. In the US there are almost 5 million dog bites a year. The CDC report that most of these dog bites are caused by un-neutered or un-spayed dogs!
- Cut down aggression. Dogs can become aggressive when they want to mate. Their frustration can be redirected towards other dogs and/or humans.
Other benefits from neutering/spaying your dog
The main benefit of having your dog neutered or spayed is to stop unwanted pregnancies.
Pregnant dogs can cost a lot of time and money. There will be lots of visits to the vet for check-ups throughout the pregnancy. Then the birth and whelping stage. If the puppies survive there will be a cost for vet visits, vaccines, and feeding them, then looking for suitable homes for them will be time-consuming.
Every year millions of unwanted dogs and puppies are put into shelters or left to wander the streets as strays. Many perfectly good dogs are euthanized in kill shelters as there is an overpopulation of dogs.
Stray dogs can cause many problems in the community. They are often hungry and scared. A scared dog is more likely to bite and a hungry dog will do whatever it can to survive. Sometimes killing pets, wildlife, and livestock just to survive.
These dogs do not choose to be homeless and unwanted. They are often the result of un-neutered/un-spayed dogs who have unwanted litters. The best way to minimize this issue is to neuter/spay your dog.
A dog who escapes finding a mate can end up in a shelter as a lost dog if they are lucky. Escapees and strays often end up in traffic accidents, sometimes fatally so.
If your dog is involved in a traffic accident, you will face vet bills and possibly costs that have been incurred by the accident. It could also lead to the loss of your beloved pet.
When should I neuter/spay my dog?
There are differing opinions on what age you should neuter/spay your dog. For male dogs, the general consensus now seems to be to neuter them after puberty. This allows them to fully grow and mature.
It used to be recommended to spay your female dog before the first season, around 5 or 6 months, but some research is now suggesting that this is too young. With some vets now recommending spaying after the first season but before the second season.
It is a good idea to consult with your vet who will be able to give you more breed-specific advice on neutering or spaying.
What if I have a timid/nervous dog?
Some people think that because their male dog is timid or nervous that getting them neutered will have a negative impact on them.
This is not the case at all. Neutering will not change their nature at all. You may even find that their confidence grows as they no longer get negative reactions from other dogs.
Neutering your dog will only reduce the risks of cancer and prostate problems, it may also calm down an overly boisterous dog.
It will help your dog focus on you because it is not distracted by trying to mate. It will not turn your dog shy or reactive.
Will neutering my dog make it fat and lazy?
This is simply not true, neutering your dog will not make it fat or lazy. Neutering may help calm down an overly boisterous dog, but it will still want exercise. Nutrition and exercise should not change after neutering.
The only thing that will make your dog fat and lazy is overfeeding him and not giving him enough exercise.
Good luck and I hope that this article was helpful.