By Juliana Weiss-Roessler
Spaying or neutering your dog is an important part of responsible pack leadership.
It not only helps keep your dog safe from a number of medical issues, but it also helps reduce overpopulation. Every day, pets across the nation are euthanized because shelters don’t have the space or resources to care for them. By spaying or neutering your dog, you are helping to stop this tragic problem.
Here’s a list of answers to the most common questions related to spaying and neutering.
- Should my dog be spayed or neutered?
This one has a simple answer. Male dogs are neutered. Female dogs are spayed.
- Is the surgery safe?
Yes. It is a common medical procedure, so as long as you are working with a licensed veterinarian you can rest assured that he or she likely has a wealth of experience with the surgery. Whenever an animal is put under anesthesia, there is some risk, but your veterinarian will be on the lookout for signs of illness or any other possible complications.
- What can I do to keep my dog safe?
Follow pre-op and post-op instructions carefully. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call your vet.
- How old does my dog need to be?
Recently, the American Veterinary Medical Association endorsed Early Age Neutering, which can be done as early as two months or two pounds, but the average age is four months. There may also be laws in your area that require your dog to be spayed or neutered by a certain age.
- Where can I find a low-cost spay/neuter service in my area?
The ASPCA has a great database where you can look for vets offering discounted services in your area.
- Should I wait until my female dog has had one litter before spaying?
No, it’s actually easier on your dog to have the surgery before her first heat. Plus, by allowing your dog to have some puppies, you’re contributing to the pet overpopulation problem. If you’d like to allow your children the experience of seeing a birth, consider fostering a dog that’s already pregnant at a local rescue or shelter.
- Should my female dog go into heat before she’s spayed?
No, by doing so before her first heat, you can greatly reduce her risk of mammary tumors.
- How long after giving birth can my dog be spayed?
The procedure can be done as soon as the pups are weaned, usually four to five weeks.
- What are some of the health benefits of spay/neuter?
Female dogs have no risk of infections, cancers, or diseases of the uterus (which is removed), and also a reduced risk of breast cancer. Male dogs have no risk of testicular cancer and a reduced risk of prostate cancer. The surgery also reduces some problem behaviors related to mating, such as roaming, marking, and aggression.
- Will my dog be given pain relief?
Yes. Your dog won’t feel any pain during the surgery. Typically, dogs are given an injection which will provide pain management for eight to twelve hours after the surgery. And you may also be given medication that you can give at home. Never administer human pain medications, because many of them can be poisonous to your dog.
- Will my dog get fat after the surgery?
No, this is a myth. Just like humans, dogs gain weight if they’re eating too much or not getting enough exercise. Provide your dogs with regular walks and healthy meals, and they’ll stay fit!
- Will my guard dog stop protecting Me?
No. In fact, most police canine units spay or neuter their dogs. If your dog has been trained to be a guard dog, he will still be able to protect you after the procedure.
The best source of information for your spay/neuter questions is your veterinarian. He or she can help inform you about your dog’s specific needs regarding the surgery.