If you are a new dog parent or planning to bring a puppy home, then researching about spaying and neutering your new buddy should be a priority. Getting a dog fixed is a responsible way to curb plenty of concerns such as unplanned pregnancies, overpopulated shelters (leading to unnecessary euthanasia), and a few health issues. But it could also bring along several health complications. This blog will guide you with all that you need to know about desexing your pooch.
Both the procedures refer to surgically removing the reproductive organs of dogs. Spaying is the removal of ovaries and the uterus (either only the former or both) in female dogs; it eliminates their heat cycle. It is also known as an ovariohysterectomy (removal of uterus and ovaries) or ovariectomy (removal of one or both ovaries). Neutering is the removal of testicles and associated structures in a male dog. Both the surgeries are safe and effective. Once spayed or neutered, any behaviour related to breeding instincts stops, barring a few exceptions.
Several factors govern the right time of getting a dog desexed — gender, breed, and risks involved. Early spaying or neutering could lead to multiple health issues, including thyroid, joint problems, and some types of cancer. For male breeds, it is advisable to wait until they are at least 24 months till the body reaches maturity. Female dogs should never be spayed before their first heat cycle. Most veterinarians suggest waiting until they come into one or two seasons. Dr Karen Shaw Becker of US-based Mercola Healthy Pets says, “My suggestion would be to wait until your dog has reached full musculoskeletal maturity, and if you have a female, I’d also wait until she’s completed her second estrus cycle before scheduling the surgery.”
Altering your dog reduces unwanted pregnancies and excessive litter, thereby lessening the number of abandoned dogs entering shelters and rescue homes. The procedures are equally important when it comes to health benefits and ensuring a longer, happier life. According to experts, spaying helps prevent mammary cancer and pyometra (a life-threatening uterine infection). On the other hand, neutering keeps male dogs from developing testicular cancer, prostatic enlargement, cystine bladder stones, and perineal hernia. Neutered dogs also show a reduction in territorial marking, dominance, or humping.
Risks and Alterative
Removal of organs that are part of your dog’s endocrine system can have many long-term effects. Despite spaying and neutering benefits, some negative health consequences like certain types of cancer, joint disorders, hip disease, incontinence (in females), and obesity remain. Altered dogs are known to have a higher risk of weight gain and have to be put on a controlled diet to avoid complications like cranial cruciate ligament disease and hip dysplasia. Unless you really want to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and if you provide your dog a healthy lifestyle and diet, then avoiding desexing is the best idea. According to a few veterinarians, vasectomy (tying the tubes in males) or hysterectomy (removing the uterus and cervix in females) are healthier alternatives to neutering or spaying. Says Dr Becker, “My choice is to sterilize without desexing so the testes or ovaries can continue to produce hormones essential for the dog’s health and well-being.”
Your doggo will need ample care and love as he/she recovers from the surgeries. Discuss with your vet what all needs to be done to ensure safety and a painless experience. Keep them calm, inside the house and away from other animals, and use a cone to avoid licking the wound. Regularly check the incision to rule out any redness, swelling, or discharge. And in case of any red flags related to the wound or overall healing process, immediately contact your vet.
While it is true that some dogs do benefit from being neutered or spayed, some others could suffer from severe health issues due to it. We suggest you to have detailed discussions with your veterinarian about your dog’s health history. Check with him/her whether sterilization without organ removal would be the best course of action for your pup. After all it is about your baby’s health and as a responsible dog parent, you wouldn’t want to risk it!