Spaying and neutering your dog, the facts of life

If healthy, the neutering of your female or male dog is a relatively safe operation, and is usually recommended by your veterinarian unless you intend to breed your dog. Sometimes the operation disturbs the dog owner psychologically or emotionally far more than the dog, who quickly recovers and become an even better pet!

If your dog is a female, you have a special consideration. The female dog matures more rapidly than the male dog, usually coming into breeding age at about seven months old, although she may reach breeding age as early as five months old. When she is in heat (twice a year for about three weeks at a time), male dogs will be constantly under foot, fighting, running and annoying you and your neighbors in their attempts to court her. She is capable of producing dozens of puppies in her lifetime, so unless you are breeding your dog purposely, you will have the responsibility of finding homes for all of her offspring. If you do not welcome that job, you should seriously consider having your female spayed.

Many veterinarians feel that the ideal age for spaying is about five to six months old, before the puppy has had her first seasonal period. If you would like your dog to have a litter or two before she is spayed, you can still have the operation performed safely at a later age. Usually it is not recommended that a female be mated until she is one year old.

In a healthy dog, the operation of spaying involves a general anesthetic, abdominal surgery and the hospitalization of your pet. For the first few days the dog is home, care should be taken so she does not break open the incision. The younger female dog usually heals faster than the older one, as might be expected.

In addition, spaying will probably lengthen the life of your pet for she will have fewer health problems. For instance, the spayed dog does not develop pyometritis, a uterine infection not uncommon in unspayed, middle aged or older females, which may require surgical treatment at a time when she is quite ill. The spayed dog is also less likely to develop breat tumors which often occur as she gets older, especially if she has raised several litters.

Neutering or castration of a male dog is an operation which may be performed at any time, but usually after the age of four months. This operation will require general anesthesia and usually brief hospitalization. After he has had the operation, your dog will make an even better pet. He will express his vitality in play, often quitting some of his male behavioral traits found to be embarrassing and unwanted. He will also stay at home more, decreasing his chances of being hurt or killed and less apt to damage a neighbor’s personal property.