Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Your Dog

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Young Female Vet Examining a Golden RetrieverThe topic of spaying and neutering is most often brought up by dog owners; however, it is a subject that should be addressed by all pet owners. There are many benefits of spaying and neutering including: improved health outlook, improved temperament, a declining homeless pet population and a reduction in the expense associated with breeding.

What Is Spaying?

Spaying is the practice of sterilizing female animals by removing the reproductive organs including the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. For female animals spaying is usually performed at or before the age of six months but not before the age of eight weeks. The weight of a younger animal is also taken in to consideration when scheduling a spaying in order to ensure a successful surgery with no complications. There is no upper age limit on spaying; however, an animal must be healthy enough to successfully make it through the surgery. It is possible to conduct a spaying surgery on a female animal while they are pregnant or while they are in heat. Spaying during pregnancy will terminate the pregnancy and can be performed until just a few days before delivery although this is not recommended. Some pet owners believe that it is best to wait until after their pet’s first heat cycle prior to sterilization. This belief is false; it is actually easier to sterilize a female animal prior to their first heat cycle and prior to any pregnancy. Spaying is a routine procedure that rarely results in complications directly resulting from the procedure itself. A spayed female is considered sterile immediately following her surgery.

Neutering Your Pet

Neutering is the practice of sterilizing male animals by removing the testes and is also referred to as an orchectomy or castration. The penis is not operated on during this procedure and the outer sac that once held the testes is left in place. For male animals neutering is usually performed between the ages of 8 weeks and 6 months; however, it can be performed on older animals as well. As long as an animal is in overall good health and has a good prognosis for recovery from surgery, there is no reason they cannot be neutered. Neutering is another routine procedure that rarely results in complications from the procedure itself. Male dogs generally recover much more quickly following neutering than females do from spaying since spaying is much more invasive and results in a larger incision. A neutered male is not considered sterile immediately following his surgery. On average it can take around two weeks or as much as four weeks for a neutered male to be considered sterile. It is important to keep a neutered male away from any females in heat for around four weeks to ensure that pregnancy will not result from the encounter.

How Much Does Spaying and Neutering Cost?

Vet performing a spay operation

One of the reasons that many pet owners give for not spaying or neutering their animals is the cost of the surgery. The cost of spaying and neutering depends upon a wide range of factors including the overall health of the animal, the size and weight of the animal, geographic location and whether the surgery is a spaying or a neutering. A lot of pet owners choose to have their regular veterinarian perform their animal’s spaying or neutering surgery. The price range for spaying and neutering from a regular veterinarian ranges so significantly that there is no way to accurately portray it; however, there are many clinics that provide affordable spaying and neutering for between $30 to $50 per pet. Spaying and neutering can also be made more affordable by visiting your local SPCA where the surgery can be performed at a lower cost than it is at most veterinarians.

Is it Worth Paying More for Spaying and Neutering?

The first priority of pet owners should be providing a safe spaying and neutering experience for their pet. This type of experience is provided by all licensed veterinarians regardless of whether they work at a private clinic, a low cost clinic or at the SPCA. With that said, there are benefits to going with a private veterinarian clinic for your dogs spaying or neutering surgery. Using a private veterinarian will allow you to build up a relationship with a veterinarian with whom you and your dog should have a lifelong relationship. There are also smaller considerations to take in to account, such as the fact that many lower cost clinics utilize glue to close spaying incisions rather than stitches. Glue will hold together an incision, but it can result in skin reactions, slower healing and reopening of the incision (although this can happen when using stitches as well.) While the choice between stitches and glue is a personal one for the veterinarian doing the surgery, lower budget clinics opt to use glue over stitches more often.

Why Pet Owners Should Consider the Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

There are a great many reasons cited as to why pet owners should spay and neuter their pets, below we will take a look at some of the most often cited.

A Reduction in the Homeless Pet Population

There is rarely a time when local shelters are not bursting at the seams with unwanted and stray animals. If all pet owners spayed and neutered their animals local shelters would experience a reduction in their populations. This reduction would not only result in less animals living on the streets and being put to sleep in shelters, but it would also result in increased room in shelters for animals that are thrust in to homelessness in other situations.

A Reduction in Cancer Prevalence

One of the biggest benefits from spaying and neutering animals is the reduction in the prevalence of specific types of cancer. Animals that are neutered experience a reduction in testicular cancer. Females that are spayed experience a reduction in mammary tumors, uterine, ovarian and cervical tumors.

Other Beneficial Health Effects

In addition to the reduction in reproductive cancers, there are a number of other beneficial health effects seen in dogs that are spayed and neutered. Male dogs that are neutered also experience a reduction in non-cancerous prostate disorders, a reduction in perineal fistulas and it is also believed a reduction in risk for diabetes. Female dogs that are spayed also experience a significant reduction in pyometra, and perineal fistulas.

A Reduction in Breed Dilution

One of the biggest reasons why true pet lovers choose to spay and neuter their pet is due to their love of the breed. Most of us who have owned a pet like to think that our pet is the “best” there is; however, it takes much more than a personal opinion to make a dog that is a benefit to its breed. Each specific breed of dog has particular standards set out by the American Kennel Club determining what makes a dog the best of its breed. These standards outline everything from height to color to markings and include health clearance of hips, eyes, elbows and heart health.  All of these characteristics come together to make a dog a healthy dog that is guaranteed to lead to an overall better breed.  Breeding dogs that do not have “clearance” from breeding organizations can lead to breed dilution and a much weaker dog with various inbred health conditions. By spaying and neutering dogs that are not the best of the breed we can ensure that healthy breeding lines live on and dogs experience fewer genetic health concerns.

Improvement in Overall Behavior

Behavior is something that can be greatly affected by whether or not our animals are spayed or neutered. One of the most obvious differences between a spayed or neutered pet and an unaltered pet is the need to “roam.” Male pets will go to great lengths to get to a female that is in heat, this includes behavior such as tunneling under fences and leaping over gates. The scent of a female in heat can carry for considerable distances making it extremely difficult to contain a male pet that smells a female in heat.

Another consideration is the effect that hormone release has on the behavior of an animal. Males in particular can become extremely dominant or bullheaded as a result of surges in testosterone. These pets can become extremely difficult to control and difficult to train. Hormones also play a role in natural instincts such as marking behavior and shows of dominance and aggression. In fact, the majority of dog bites involve dogs that have not been fixed. Spaying and neutering can reduce these types of behaviors and not only make animals easier to manage but also result in far fewer frustrations for the animal.

Elimination of the Mess Factor

Mating is a messy business. Not only do males release ejaculate but females experience menstruation. The heat cycle during which the female bleeds can begin as early as six months old. For dogs this cycle occurs approximately twice a year and last for three weeks. In cats the heat cycle occurs every three to four weeks from spring through until fall. During heat cycles, females need to wear protective garments which must be changed frequently; this prevents the spotting of blood on furniture and around the home. Females in heat must also be kept away from all males, this means the female must not be allowed unsupervised access to anywhere she could come get mounted by a male. The act of mating can occur in seconds and result in an unwanted pregnancy.

The Cost of Pregnancy

Many people think that they would like their dog to have babies once in their lifetime; these people rarely understand the cost of both pregnancy and raising young. The pregnant female requires supplementation with vitamins in addition to a higher quality dog food. Regular veterinarian checkups are a must to ensure the health of offspring as well as the mother to be. All of these expenses occur before the youngsters are even born. The birthing process is another potentially expensive experience. There are a number of conditions that can arise that require veterinary intervention which can be costly, it is also possible for the birthing female to experience complications that cost her ultimate price: her life. Assuming the mother and babies make it out of delivery there is then the added cost of raising young. The nursing mother requires premium food and her babies require both regular medical checkups and preventative medication. After raising babies to approximately eight weeks, they must all be found safe and responsible homes. Just because a pet owner believes that their pet is the best “____” ever, does not guarantee that everyone else does too, it is possible that all offspring may not find a home. As a responsible pet owner it is up to you to raise the young until such a home can be found. Many pet owners shirk this responsibility and if a home cannot be found for offspring they are dumped in a local shelter, feeding a vicious cycle.

Excuses for Not Spaying and Neutering

A German Shepherd being spayedDespite all of the reasons already given in support of spaying and neutering pets, pet owners have many excuses for why they don’t want to “desex” their animal.

I Want Another Dog Just Like Fido!

This is a commonly cited reason for not spaying or neutering; however, it is a ridiculous one. Having puppies in order to replicate a parent dog is comparable to having a baby to replicate a human parent. There is no way, short of cloning, to reproduce someone or something else exactly. Mating pets will result in a mix of chromosomes that will produce a unique individual that is exactly that – an individual. If you love your dog that much, give them the opportunity to be your center of attention and celebrate their life as they live it.

Spaying and Neutering Will Make my Pet Fat!

While it is true that spaying or neutering can reduce overall activity and make hormonal changes within a pet’s body, obesity and laziness is almost always a result of poor diet and exercise. Dogs that are lazy and overweight are often lazy because of their weight problem; this problem can be controlled with regular exercise and a strictly controlled diet.

We Could Become Breeders and Make a Profit!

Breeding dogs for the most part is not a profitable business, it is a practice done for a love of the breed and a desire to improve genetic bloodlines. Breeding is expensive and most breeders rarely make a profit after factoring in stud fees, medical care, supplementation, accommodation for puppies and advertising fees. In cases where pregnancies result in complications breeders frequently lose money.

My Pet Will Change After They Get Spayed or Neutered

Pet owners frequently believe that their pet will “change” after their spaying or neutering surgery. Most pets do change after their surgery; however, they change for the better. Your pet will still be the same loving animal it once was with the same habits. What may change after a dog is spayed or neutered is problem aggression, hardheaded behavior and roaming behavior. Believing a pet will change after desexing is much like believing a human will change after a vasectomy or hysterectomy – they are still the same individual they once were.

My Pet Deserves the Chance to be a Parent

As pet owners we often tend to pin human emotions and desires on our animals. Being a parent for a pet is very different from being a parent as a human. While animals can bond with their offspring they are hardwired to care for their young for only a select period of time and this parenting period does not consist of enrichment activities so much as it consists of meeting basic needs. When it comes down to it, reproduction is an instinctive behavior for pets; it is about survival of genes and a drive to mate.

What if the Surgery Goes Wrong?

Concerns over something happening during surgery are very real for pet owners. The biggest concern when it comes to surgery is administration of anesthesia. Spaying and neutering surgeries are very routine, they are performed multiple times daily and there is no reason to be concerned over the surgery itself going wrong. If you are concerned about how your dog may react to anesthesia make sure to share this concern with your veterinarian. There are some animals that do show a particular sensitivity to anesthesia, for these animals it is particularly important to run pre-surgical blood work and to keep a close eye on them during the surgical process. In general however, these routine surgeries prevent more complications than they ever cause.

Statistics on Pet Spaying and Neutering

  • Every year approximately six MILLION shelter animals are euthanized simply because there is no room for them.
  • Every two seconds in the United States alone an animal is euthanized.
  • Approximately 30% of shelter pets are purebred and have “papers” to prove it.
  • Around 50% of female dogs that are not spayed develop tumors in their breast tissue.
  • Around 60% of male dogs that are not neutered develop prostate cancer.
  • A single unspayed cat and her offspring can add over 400,000 cats to the population in seven years.
  • A single unspayed dog and her pups can add over 67,000 dogs to the population in six years with an average litter size of four.
  • It costs tax payers around $100 to catch, feed, house and eventually destroy a stray animal.
  • Only ten percent of animals that find their way to local shelters have been spayed or neutered.
  • 75% of pet dogs are spayed and neutered, 87% of pet cats are spayed and neutered. While this is a good start, it is not nearly enough considering the number of pet dogs and cats in the nation.
  • Spaying and neutering can add 3 to 5 years to your cat’s life.
  • Spaying and neutering can add 1 to 3 years to your dog’s life.

There Are Many More Excuses for Not Spaying and Neutering

Pet owners who are intent on not spaying and neutering their pets can come up with any number of excuses, some of which we have already covered above. Let’s take a look at some other excuses and potential answers to those excuses and concerns owners have over spaying and neutering.

We’ll Just Have One Litter First

Studies have shown that the majority of the pet overpopulation problem that currently exists is a result of this mentality. If everyone had “just one litter” then the pet overpopulation problem would be worse than ever. “Just one litter” more often than not results in far more than just one puppy and this leads in to the next excuse…

We Always Find Homes or Already Have Home Lined Up for Our Puppies

Finding homes for all of the puppies bred is a great thing; however, as far as animals in the shelter are concerned, it is not such a great thing. The individuals that took in those puppies are individuals who could have saved a dog from a local shelter or rescue group. This means that there is now one less home and one less second chance for a dog in need.

My Dog Is Always Contained so I Don’t Need to Worry About Spaying or Neutering

There are two issues with this response. The first concern is that fact that a dog should not be contained for its entire life. Dogs require daily walks and exercise which involve leaving the home perimeter. The second problem with this response is that even if a dog is kept “contained” in a fenced yard or electric fenced yard, this does not mean that they will always be contained. Dogs escape from fenced in yards all the time and it is even possible for other dogs to enter a fenced yard. Think that because your dog is a male that you don’t have to worry about this issue? Well you’re mistaken, as a responsible dog owner you will be responsible for half the cost of a bitch’s pregnancy and delivery in addition to the cost of vetting the puppies.

It is also important to note here that even if your dog stays indoors for its entire life, the health concerns that come with not being spayed or neutered are still of concern. Un-neutered and un-spayed dogs cannot avoid testicular and mammary cancer by being kept indoors.

It’s Not Natural to Spay or Neuter Dogs

The problem with people who own dogs and claim that it’s not natural to spay or neuter them is that they are a walking contradiction. It is not natural to own dogs as possessions but since we began domesticating them, things have changed and this means that spaying or neutering should be par for the course for the average pet owner.

I Couldn’t Look My Dog in the Eye if I Cut Off His Boys

Could you look your dog in the eye if he developed testicular cancer that you could have prevented? There are far more benefits than drawbacks to neutering and these benefits far outweigh a little guilt that you feel from anthropomorphizing your pet.

It’s Healthier for Female Dogs to Have a Litter Before Being Spayed

Some people claim that it is better for female dogs to have a litter of puppies before being spayed because it is “healthier” for them. There is however, no medical research that supports this claim.

Spaying and Neutering is Too Expensive

Owning a pet is a responsibility that takes financial dedication. As a responsible dog owner you are responsible for your pet’s basic needs including medical care and food. Spaying and neutering is another basic part of owning your dog. Many vet clinics and shelters offer discount spay and neuter services to help families with financial constraints to provide for their pet. If you already own a dog and cannot afford discount spaying and neutering due to unexpected financial constraints contact your local veterinarian or animal shelter and explain your circumstances and they may be able to help.

My Children Should Experience the Miracle of Birth

Wanting children to experience the miracle of birth is not a good enough reason to expose your pet to the health risks that come with not being spayed or neutered. There are plenty of DVDs that can be rented that depict the miracle of birth and they are far cheaper than seeing a dog through pregnancy, delivery and puppyhood.

My Dog is a Purebred

Whether or not your dog is a purebred has nothing to do with whether or not you should breed them. Unless you are a certified breeder then you have no place breeding even your purebred dog. It is also important to note that a considerable number of purebred dogs can be found in local shelters and rescues – being a purebred does not exempt a dog from landing in a shelter.

My Dog Will Feel Like Less of a Man

Unlike people, dogs do not have a concept of sexual identity and neutering them will not result in any type of identity crisis.

Spaying and Neutering Will Make My Dog Less Protective

While sex hormones may play a part in your dog’s behavior, they do not affect a dogs natural instinct to protect its home and family. A spayed or neutered dog is just as capable of protecting its home and family as a dog that is not altered.

My Dog Should Experience a Heat Cycle Before Being Spayed

Just like those who claim that their bitch should have one litter of puppies for health reasons, some people also claim that their dog should go through a heat cycle prior to being spayed for health reasons as well. This is simply not true. In fact, it is riskier health wise for a dog to go through a heat cycle than it is for them to undergo spaying surgery before heat.

What the Spaying and Neutering Process is Really Like for Your Dog

Spaying or neutering your pet not only helps control the pet population, but it helps the animal have a much more peaceful, and in most cases longer, life. Despite the wealth of available information on the spaying and neutering processes, you might be wondering what the process is really like from the dog’s own perspective. Although humans can never be truly sure what a dog feels, here is a glimpse into the procedure based on veterinarian knowledge and research.

Neutering Your Male Dog

Neutering is highly recommended for having a dog that is less aggressive, anxious, or territorial. The neutering surgery is performed on male puppies usually around four to six months old. Animal shelters may perform the procedure earlier, since the dogs will be in close quarters with other dogs and neutering prevents aggression. Although performing the procedure at an early age is recommended, neutering is possible at any age.

The Neutering Experience

Neutering is a minor surgery. The first thing that will happen is the puppy being placed under general anesthesia. This usually involves a quick injection, which veterinarians are trained to perform while keeping the dog calm. All the dog experiences after that is sleep, and no pain, much like a human in surgery. A tube is then fed into the puppy’s airway and his breathing is ventilated throughout the procedure, and his heart rate is monitored. The fur in front of the scrotum is clipped or shaved and the skin is sterilized using a topical antiseptic wash. A small incision is then made in that location using sterile surgical tools. For puppies with both testicles descended, the next step is the clipping of the vas deferens and the removal of the testicles, which takes ten to twenty minutes. (An undescended testicle, while rare, will take a bit longer as it presents a minor complication to remove a testicle from the abdomen.) The vas deferens and the blood supply to the area are tied off, and the small incision is closed with surgical glue, staples, or in rare cases, sutures.

Post-Neuter Care

The puppy wakes up without pain or numbness when the anesthesia wears off, and is often able to go home that day. He may, however, be sore, and your veterinarian will often supply minor pain medication as well as giving instruction for how to check for infection while the dog heals. Dogs can eat and drink normally immediately after going home, but require gentle, monitored walking and should refrain from jogging or rough playing with other dogs or people who might accidentally worsen the surgery wound. If your dog looks like he is going to lick his stitches, an E collar that looks like a cone will be placed around his neck until the wound heals. Although this might be annoying to him, it is important that he not aggravate the sensitive spot of the incision until after the stitches are removed or until the wound is fully closed up. After only about a week, the wound should be healed and the puppy can resume his usual puppy antics.

Spaying Your Female Dog

For female puppies of four to six months of age are customarily spayed before the first heat cycle, meaning the uterus and ovaries are removed. The procedure, as with neutering, is possible earlier or later than this, but four to six months is the norm. For female puppies, spaying before first heat cycle is especially important in preventing mammary cancer, which statistics say will strike one in four un-spayed females. (Those are not good odds!) Worse yet, of female dogs who do get mammary cancer, half of them will die from it. Spaying furthermore prevents uterine infections, which are also often fatal. Spaying your dog is very highly recommended.

The Spaying Experience

As with neutering, the first step is to put the puppy under anesthesia. Once she is sedated, she will be asleep for the duration of the procedure and awaken without memory of what happened. A ventilation tube is placed in her airway to ensure breathing, and heart rate is monitored. The skin on the abdomen is shaved or clipped, and treated with an antiseptic. The small abdominal incision is then made, and the uterus and ovaries are removed, and the blood supply sealed off. The procedure takes about fifteen to thirty minutes, or more if your puppy is overweight. The wound is then sealed with surgical glue, staples, or sutures. The stitches are in two to three layers so that if one layer starts coming undone, the other layers remain intact.

Post-Spay Care

The surgery is deeper into the abdomen than neutering, but puppies heal just as quickly after being spayed. The puppy wakes up as though from a dream, and will not immediately be sore. Veterinarians usually prescribe minor pain medication for the days after the surgery, and once again you are required to check for infection. The puppy will not be able to eat normally until the day after returning home, to give the wound time to heal enough before pressure is put on it from a full stomach. Nausea is also a common symptom that may make her not want to eat; home remedies may be recommended for this or in some cases medication will be prescribed. The vet will instruct you on how to feed and water her before then. Since female spays are more likely to have sutures or staples, those require a return visit to the vet’s office within ten to fourteen days for removal. It is often reported that after spaying your dog, her metabolism slows, so for adults this may require lower calorie food or a special diet. Like with a neuter, the first week after a return home will be especially gentle for your puppy, but after a week she can resume all her usually playful puppy activities. Plus you will have the joy of knowing that she has a better life now!

Discount Spay and Neuter Clinics

The cost of spaying and neutering pets is often enough to turn a pet owner away from following through with the spaying and neutering process. Fortunately most communities offer discount spay and neuter clinics to help these pet owners to afford this important procedure. The official ASPCA website currently offers a listing of both spay and neuter clinics and spay and neuter programs that are local to any area within the United States. Where spay and neuter clinics are permanent locations that offer discount services, the programs are actually agencies that provide assistance or referrals to discount professionals who can perform the surgery.

Most dog owners become nervous when they hear the term “discount” when it pertains to something like surgery for their furry family member. In the majority of instances however, these spay and neuter clinics are sponsored or held at local SPCA shelters and humane societies. These agencies provide this discounted service because they are the ones who will have to pay for the pet overpopulation if pets are not spayed and neutered.

How Do Spay and Neuter Clinics Work?

Spay and neuter clinics work by asking clients to call and make surgery appointments for their pets. Making surgery appointments is just like making any other veterinary appointment. Generally these services will ask pet owners to either call them or visit them directly but some now also allow for clients to submit forms online to request spay and neuter appointments.

Who Performs Discount the Surgeries?

One frequently asked question in terms of discount spay and neuter surgery clinics is whether a trained veterinarian will be performing the surgeries. Some people are under the impression that because the service is a discounted service, that poor quality or non-licensed or veterinary students will be permitted to conduct sterilization surgery. This assumption is simply not true. Sterilization clinics employ only licensed veterinarians not only because it is not ethical to do otherwise, but also because of the potential for other needs while a pet is in surgery.

What is the Cost of Discounted Surgery?

Discount spay and neuter clinics vary in their cost based on a variety of factors. The base fee for sterilization surgery is determined by the area in which the client lives. For example the SPCA of Wake County in North Carolina charges a base rate of $95 for a female dog, $85 for a male dog, $65 for a female cat and $55 for a male cat. These prices vary as a result of the size difference between these animals in addition to the complexity of female sterilization versus male sterilization. Clinics may also add an additional fee of between $15 to $40 for pets that are in-heat, pregnant or obese at the time of their sterilization.

What is Included in the Cost ?

As with the question above, what is actually included in the price of spay and neuter surgery at a discount clinic varies depending upon the clinic. In respect to the SPCA of Wake County the fees listed above include the sterilization process, a one year rabies vaccination, distemper and any other core vaccinations and a pain relief injection for the surgical procedure.

Add on services are also offered based on the individual needs of a client and these can include: additional pain relief medication for recovery, micro chipping, heartworm testing, heartworm prevention, flea and tick prevention (applied at the hospital or provided to take home,) Feline Leukemia testing, Feline leukemia vaccination, canine kennel cough vaccination, e-collars and cardboard carriers.

Is a Discount Clinic As Good As My Regular Veterinarian?

This question is asked so many times by dog owners because naturally they care about their dog’s well-being. As already discussed, all discount spay and neuter clinics utilize licensed veterinarians to perform their surgeries. You will notice a difference between the veterinarian that you are used to and any other veterinarian because they are different doctors with different bedside manners; however, both will be professionally trained. A discount clinic may be more rushed than your veterinarian’s clinic in terms of getting you in and out so that they can perform your dog’s sterilization; however, this does not indicate that your dog’s procedure will be rushed. As with your regular veterinarian, these clinics require appointments and schedule only as many patients as they can capably treat within a day.

Learn more about Financial Assistance for Vet Services

Don’t Spay and Neuter Clinics Use Cheap Materials Like Glue?

One question that is sometimes raised by pet owners is the quality of the surgery supplies utilized by spay and neuter clinics. This is an unusual question but it has been asked before particularly by those who have had a dog spayed at a veterinarian clinic that utilizes stitches and a spay and neuter clinic that utilizes surgical glue to close incisions. The difference in these two methods is particularly noticeable if you are used to one method over the other; however, both are approved methods of wound closure. Depending upon the veterinarian clinic or the spay and neuter clinic that performs your pets spay or neuter surgery there is a possibility that the vet you use will prefer stitches or glue to close an incision. This preference is simply that, a preference of the veterinarian. If you have a preference over which closure method is utilized, make sure that you investigate your spay and neuter clinics prior to making an appointment.

The Importance of Supporting Spay and Neuter Clinics

Even if you choose not to utilize spay and neuter clinics you can still support local clinics by making donations of supplies or monetary donations. These donations go in to allowing clinics to provide discounted sterilization surgeries to prevent pet overpopulation, a problem that affects every local community. The higher the population of homeless pets, the larger the stray pet population which increases the risk of disease among feral animals as well as increases the financial strain put on locally-owned animal shelters and animal control centers.

Why are you for or against spaying/neutering your pet?

Amy grew up in England and in the early 1990's moved to North Carolina where she completed a bachelors degree in Psychology in 2001. Amy's personal interest in writing was sparked by her love of reading fiction and her creative writing hobby. Amy is currently self employed as a freelance writer and web designer. When she is not working Amy can be found curled up with a good book and her black Labrador, Jet.

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Karla
I find this article lacking in newer scientific research. The part about behavior does not meet current research. Females especially in large breeds should have one heat especially if they have a tipped urethra. Larger breed males in particular have increased incidences in several cancers. You can do a ovarian sparing spay and keep hormones normal for females with no chance of pregnancy and you can do a vasectomy in males. To give people a quarter of the truth without the other options is just pushing an agenda. I have intact females who are contained in our home while cycling. In 20 years never had an oops. I have also had intact males which I kept separate and again no oops. Not luck but a firm understanding of reproductive systems and health. I choose to do ovarian spays on my girls and have been pleased with their energy, athleticism , decreased number of fatty cell lumps and increased quality and quantity of life. Dogs are mammals the laws of hormones don’t change. Women who have surgery induced menopause take hormones because they are essential, Dogs need to mature physically and psychologically. If one insists one removing all hormones at least wait until long bone growth is stopped by adult hormones and correct musculature is formed. Especially in large athletic dogs.
roger c
in humans to prevent a pregnancy they cut and tie tubes instead of an entire hysterectomy. why don’t they do this in dogs?
Canine Journal
Roger, great question! For female dogs, the answer is more straightforward than with males. If a female dogs’ tubes are tied (tubal ligation) only vs. spaying (removal of the ovaries), then she will continue to produce hormones which will result in her normal “heat” or fertility cycles. During her cycle, she will also be more interested in mating which could lead to more aggressive and uncontrollable behaviors.

The more aggressive behaviors from the continued presence of hormones also apply to male dogs when only a vasectomy is performed. A vasectomy removes part of the sperm channel to prevent the sperm from ever reaching the outside world (or female egg) but leaves the other parts intact. Neutering removes all of the sexual organs in a male dog, eliminating the hormonally driven behaviors as well.

All of this being said, this is becoming a more controversial discussion in the veterinary world due to higher risks and costs associated with full sexual organ removals vs. less invasive surgeries such as vasectomy and tubal ligation. There is also some information supporting benefits of the sexual hormones that we are removing from most pets with spay/neuter procedures.

Anonymous
Spay and neuter is definitely important! Far too many animals end up homeless, in shelters, euthanized, abused, etc. Spaying and neutering your pets could potentially help decrease the amount of suffering animals. I currently have 2 dogs. One was a rescued female doberman mix. She was dumped on the side of the road starving and someone had taken her off the streets and I ended up taking her into our family. She was spayed recently, along with being fully vaccinated and she received a clean bill of health from the vet as well thank goodness. For those owners who find that spay and neuter costs too much, I strongly recommend a low cost clinic. I had taken her to an SPCA clinic and they spayed her, ran tests on her, gave all of her vaccines (rabies included), and microchipped her, and sent us home with pain pills for her. she was actually pregnant as well..so they did add a $10 fee for her being pregnant). If I remember correctly her spay was $65 plus the $10 pregnancy fee, vaccines were $50 all together, microchip was $15. The tests they ran we’re free.
They did a wonderful job with her. And she healed up extremely well. I will be taking my male blue heeler mix in next,and then our kitten we recently rescued!
Mike Wallace
After 10 years my westie bitch has started to rip up carpets and chew at doors. We’ve tried everything from tranquilisers to thunder jackets, but nothing works.

Would spaying help to calm her down?

Matt
I had my beautiful baby girl American bulldog spayed at the humane society on 8-19 and she started acting like herself again by day two. On 8-21 she was being leash walked down the back alley to potty when the neabor dog started barking and of course Pandora got excited and started pulling to get to the fence. When doing so she hemeridged and ultimately had a stroke and died almost immediately!! I have never been so heartbroken in my life as she was my best friend and we spent every moment of every day together since she was six weeks! Wherever I went she went and now since all I can think is that having her spayed was the worst decision I could have made! I don’t understand how a dog as heathy she was could die from this that easy? I followed the post recovery to a tee but after she passed i became obligated to do my own homework on the subject and this procedure is definitely far more delicate then they perseve it and in turn it caused my beloved Pandora to cut her life so prematurely! It cut me so deep that I’ll never forgive myself for having it done and I’ll never forgive the humane society for making this procedure seem so common and standard! It is Def far more dangerous and risky then they say it is! I have never had such a close bond with a dog and now I’m totally weiry about ever getting another dog bc the heartbreak is so severe and I doubt that I’ll ever get over this nightmare! I worked with her so much and had her trained so well just to have her life taken and my soul absolutely shattered! Point is if u ever have this surgery done please REALLY DO YOUR HOMEWORK BF HAND SO U CAN LEARN ALL THE PREVENTATIVES POSSIBLE! NOBODY SHOULD EVER HAVE TO SUFFER THIS KIND OF LOSS! I LOVE YOU PANDORA GIRL FOREVER!
Eln
It’s really a sad story! Brought tears to my eyes.,but I bet if you look at all the statistics Of all dogs that have been spayed, the results are not fatal. I would surmise that in a rare case something like this could happen.
Deanie Taylor
Can a male dog perform the duty to feamsle..get hung upbut no way he can get her pregnsnt
Jeff
I am not sure why people on here believed their dog changed after surgery.

I have had beagles growing up all my life. None of them spayed until I moved out on my own and got a female beagle. The first beagle died of cancer at 10yrs old and was not spayed. The other died of cancer at 12yrs old and had an enlarged heart for a couple years prior, was not spayed. The other is currently 8yrs old and has seizures a couple times a year and hasn’t been spayed. The other who hasn’t been spayed is 2yrs old and has seizures and had a bad reaction and almost died with a distemper inject. These are conditions from 4 beagles not spayed.

My beagle we spayed at around 4 months old. She is great, although at the time I felt guilty putting her through it, we are so glad we did. She is smart, energetic, lovable, and also playful. It’s almost like she continues to have her playful puppy habits (running in backyard, playing with her toys, always chewing on bones) but listens much better.

She will be three soon, not only is she really active and healthy but she and we don’t have to deal with spotting. This was my experience with spaying my dog and having a dog spayed for the first time, very glad we did and do not regret it. The only worries was any complications during or after the surgery. Everything went fine, she was tired the first day, but the next day she was up running around playing. Of course we made sure she didn’t jump or go up stairs for two weeks, and that went by fast. Here I am almost 3yrs later sharing my experience.

Admins
Wait until she’s 10 to see if she has cancer. No studies prove that it does.
NAN SEELMAN
I understand the benefits of spaying and neutering. But there are also downsides to taking away a dog’s ability to produce sex hormones. It’s important to understand both the pros and cons. Few vets give you information about the cons.
Horrified
I spayed my dog and had negative changes in behavior, in her physical stance, in her playing habits. She can no longer chase a ball. She can’t find me to come to me when I call her. What could have caused this?
alyssa
i know it has been a while ago but did your dog ever end up going back to its normal habits?
Horrified
My dog changed drastically when I had her spayed. I regret it so much. She is the opposite of many things she was that I loved so much. If your dog is not having problems, especially if she is very feminine (or your male is a real “man”) as mine was, don’t risk losing that. Her intelligence is extremely diminished. She went from graceful to spastic, from very alert and involved to indifferent.
Catherine
I have come across this article as my dog has just started her first season. I am quite concerned with what I am reading. I asked my vet and another local vet about spaying my dog and was told by both, that they wouldn’t spay her until she had gone through one season. Further to this, my vet actually advised me, on medical grounds, to allow my dog to have two seasons. Apparently the hormones released in her body during this time may help cure her little “accident” problem (she sometimes has a little wee while sleeping) without her needing to have medication. Are you telling me that this information from my vet is wrong? I have no desire to have my dog have puppies, (I once owned a cat who had been a breeding cat prior to my owning her and I saw the damage her last pregnancy did to her) I am only trying to look out for my dog’s well being.
Tmiz
There is a lot of research now that suggests it is much better for the dog’s health to wait to spay or neuter. The benefits are many – decreased risk of incontinence, decreased risk of certain bone cancers, hip and bone abnormalities… you can look up the studies yourself (UC Davis conducted a few). I for one am waiting until my dog is at least a year old before I spay her. The risk for certain female cancers increases, but the decrease in risk for other potentially physically debilitating issues is worth it to me.
Amanda
I know it’s just under two years since your post but after reading that article from start to finish, I was mortified. The claims that the writer makes are horrifying! If you spay or neuter a puppy as young as she claims you should, it could end up with all sorts of bone defects not to mention other problems. I really hope you listened to your vet & let your dog have at least one season before having her spayed. Dogs need a whole year to put themselves together – for their growth in every way to be as healthy as possible. I’m having one of my girls spayed in a few weeks and she is almost five. The only reason she’s being spayed is because she’s started to get heavy seasons and becomes very hormonal, clingy & miserable.

I’ve had dogs all my life, my mother used to breed and I’ve also bred (from health certified and KC reg’d dogs), my pups have always gone to good homes that I have always kept in touch with – with a guarantee that if for any reason their owners can’t keep them then they will always have a home back with me – so not all pedigree dogs will end up in shelters. Maybe it’s 30% in the USA but here in the UK it’s rare to find a well bred pedigree dog in a shelter – & even then the breeder or breed clubs will usually work hard to pull them so that they go to knowledgeable homes. The writer is also incorrect where she states ‘Finding homes for all of the puppies bred is a great thing; however, as far as animals in the shelter are concerned, it is not such a great thing. The individuals that took in those puppies are individuals who could have saved a dog from a local shelter or rescue group. This means that there is now one less home and one less second chance for a dog in need.’ A lot of people won’t get rescue dogs because of their unknown history and they’d rather buy a puppy or an older dog that has been ‘run on’ (to see if it is up to show or breeding standard) from a good breeder – because that breeder will know the temperaments of the parents and can also usually tell the character of the pup by the time they are ready to go to their new homes – and most certainly not at 8 weeks – mine NEVER leave until at least 12 weeks!

Even with intact males in the home it’s possible to keep them separate from bitches in season, without accidents and without either sex getting stressed and if you have an intact dog (of either sex) then you should, as far as I am concerned, have a fenced in garden with a fence that is at least 6ft high to prevent your dogs getting out or others getting in.

Apologies for the rant but this writer obviously knows nothing at all about dogs and has downloaded snippets from the internet, deciding to try and make herself look like an expert. I’ve met plenty of them in my time & they always know better than someone who is a breeder of 40 or even 50 yrs standing (incidentally, the term ‘breeder’ doesn’t mean someone who is constantly breeding – most of us only breed to further improve on our breed and because we need to keep our show lines going (show dogs are still very pampered pets that are allowed to be normal dogs and get muddy etc). We rarely have litters – sometimes 1 or 2 a year and sometimes 1 in 3 years)! I’ve been breeding many years but still look to my mentors & peers for advice when I come up against something new or different as does every other breeder I know!

Mia
I am going to get 2 baby sugar gliders as my first animals to take care of. One male and one female. Since I have small marsupial pets I really don’t want to neuter them because I feel that they need to live life as we do. So forth of speaking, this article really didn’t help because it was all about larger animals. I am still making these decisions whether for them to be neutered/sprayed/(both) or for them just to be as happy as the birds and the bees! I just want to see a tiny cute little rascal sitting in the play-house they live in (over so adorable)! Which one should I choose?
dogmom
We got our beagle spayed 4 days ago. The evening of surgery she ate well but hasn’t since. She will only eat about a handful before turning her nose up. And that’s with me hand feeding her and she will only eat once a day. On top of her not eating much she is literally sleeping all day and has to be touching me the whole time. She is crate trained and has slept there every night since we got her but since surgery she whines and cries when we put her to bed. So she has been sleeping with us. She won’t just sleep on our bed but she wants to be laying her whole body on me. Is this normal? Could she be depressed?
Kimberly Alt
You should contact your vet about this. It may just be that she’s still recovering from the surgery but to be sure you should talk with your vet. They know your dog best and can give you the proper guidance.
Horrified
Has your dog returned to normal?
FUOBOMBER
I don’t think you should spay young dogs until they have matured. My female dog is being spayed this week and I’ve waited until she is old enough at 18 months. Why would you spay a dog that is under 6 months old? There are many scientific articles about this causing many problems when they get older. Don’t be lazy search for them yourself its not my job to prove it to you. Do your own research. Irresponsible article.
Windchyme
Traditional spay and neuter puts your dogs at risk for many fairly severe health issues – including early death. Luckily there are alternative ways to sterilize which don’t involve taking away hormones (which causes these issues). Most vets don’t tell you all the side effects and make it sound rosy. Do your research before you do something to your dog you might regret later. Spay and neuter but do it intelligently and the right way for you and your dog and at the right time. Make an informed choice.
Anonymous

Spaying and neutering animals is the best way to show you care for them. I spent time in the Humane Society walking the dogs and playing with them for a while before I ended up adopting a sweet Cairn terrier for my own home. All of the animals were at the shelter because they had no homes to go to and often were mistreated in some way. I am not saying that the lives of those animals had no meaning, because that is simply untrue, but the sadness they had to go through could definitely have been prevented by responsible ownership. The Humane Society is unique in that the organization does not put animals down, but many other shelters do, and that is truly a tragic story. I would like to see every pet owner step up to the plate and spay or neuter their animals so that there will be no more pet overpopulation and so that every pet can find the perfect forever home for the rest of his or her life. Breeding pets should be done only by knowledgeable professionals, and for the rest of us, simply loving a spayed or neutered pet is all we need.

Anonymous

I have to admit, as a dog owner and lover, when I read articles about spaying and neutering, I do feel a little uncomfortable.  I mean there is always that pang in me that feels like the animal is being violated by losing his or her sexual organs.  However, I do like the fact that their health will improve as a result of the process.  I also feel that it is our duty as pet owners to control the population and not bring dozens of new animals into the world that no one else can care for.  The surgery sounds harsh, but I guess they aren't suffering because of the meds.  I think the most important thing is to make sure your pet is going through the process with a vet that you trust.  Surgery is always a scary thing to go through with someone that you love.  Your pet is so sweet and loving.  It can be a scary time for the whole family.  I like that you address all of the concerns that pet owners have when they hesitate to spay or neuter.  This can help them make a good decision.

Anonymous

Literally millions of cats and dogs are euthanized every year because there simply are not enough people to care for them.  Even with as many non-profit and non-kill shelters as there are out there nowadays and with all the efforts of people who provide foster-homes for dogs and cats, there simply is still a great problem with overpopulation amongst our countries pets.  These animals never asked for this and it is up to us as their caregivers and guardians to prevent the problem from going on unchecked.

Spaying and neutering your cat or dog will prevent unwanted litters of puppies or kittens from coming into your life and potentially ending up with a family that does not or will not care for them.   It will also save you time and money dealing with the consequences as well.

Reducing the population of these animals proactively as opposed to retroactively is also much more inexpensive from an economic standpoint for our country. Taking a little responsibility on the front end brings true the old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Anonymous

Many people don't spay or neuter their animals due to cost. One way to enjoy a pet without this cost is to adopt. Dogs that are up for adoption have either already been fixed or will come with a certificate to cover the cost. Regardless, this can save you a lot of money. If you're thinking you want a pure bred dog, or a puppy, that isn't an issue either. Adoption shelters have dogs in every shape and size and will help you find a pet that is perfect for your family.

If you already have a pet that needs spayed or neutered, contact your local shelter about low-cost certificates. In most areas, you will be able to purchase certificates at a discounted price. In my area, you're able to purchase these certificates at around $25, which can save pet owners $100 or more. In other words, there's no excuse not to have your pet fixed.

If you need more incentive, consider the fact that your pet will live longer and be less likely to be aggressive. These are all win/win points. Best of all though, your pet is less likely to develop disease when you have them fixed.

Anonymous

I had a friend that bought a couple of kittens a while back, male and female, from the same litter.  She was pretty good about getting them to the vet and making sure that they had their shots and respective immunizations which did not come cheap.  However, when it came to getting the kittens fixed, she was really reluctant to spend the several hundred dollars each that it would cost to get the procedures done. 

This ultimately did come back to haunt her however when the cats began to mature and develop into adults.  The male started spraying not long after reaching maturity and that lead to a great deal of furniture damage and property loss.  The female, ultimately got pregnant by another cat and she had to spend a great deal more taking the cat to the vet and then subsequently trying to get rid of all the new kittens she had on her hands. 

The moral of the story is, that an ounce of prevention obviously produces a pound of cure.  Do not wait to get your pets taken care of, it could be costly.

Anonymous

I don’t want to come off sounding like some kind of fascist or anything, but the cavalier attitude with which we treat procreation in this country is kind of astonishing.  I will try to sidestep the human procreation part of this argument mostly, and focus on the animals for the sake of not setting off a firestorm of political argument.

Seriously though, unless you have a license to breed dogs or cats and a pretty darn good reason to have one,  I think once a pet reaches a certain age they should be neutered or spayed without question.  This goes for strays and whatever too. 

We just have so many unwanted animals in this country and so little resources to care for them, I just cannot fathom a reason why we would not do something about it and continue to let people breed these animals while millions of them are put down because they have no home.  Are we protecting the “rights” of these animals somehow by not doing so? 

It may seem a bit extreme yes, but not more extreme than euthanizing a living thing because nobody can care for it.

Anonymous

Spaying and neutering pets is not only a good idea; it’s supposed to be common sense. When a female animal goes through heat, she tries to find a male in the vicinity. Spaying can prevent a female animal from going through heat. When female animals go through heat, it is extremely attractive to just about any male dog that senses this. Neutering male animals is necessary as well. The male animals go through heat as well, but it’s not quite as severe as the female animals’ heat. Theirs is often just in response to smelling a female in heat.

There are already loads of animals in animal shelters, so why shouldn’t a person have their pet spayed and/or neutered? There are so many baby animals that need homes in animal shelters.

Only professional breeders have the capacity to care for un-spayed and un-neutered animals and their babies. For the rest of the world, spaying and/or neutering is always the best idea.

I know it is hard to think about that these two procedures do cause the animal pain, but only for a short while. The temporary pain is worth more than the pet suffering for a lifetime, and I believe the medication might help almost like it does for human surgery.

Anonymous

I feel that states should make it mandatory for pet owners to sign a contract stating that the pet they purchase will be spayed or neutered in the appropriate amount of time. They should then have to show proof of the procedure in order to keep their pet. In order to purchase a dog for breeding purposes, I think the person must be licensed and should have to prove responsibility as a breeder.

Sadly, these things will probably never come to be and that's horrible. We live in a country where literally thousands of dogs are put to sleep each day. We can help prevent this by being responsible with our pets. Remember even if you watch your dog like a hawk, she may get out and if she's not fixed, this could lead to a pregnancy. In some cases, it could lead to death because the dog was bred with a dog that was much larger than her.

If you think that you can't afford to fix your dog, visit your local animal shelter. Many cities have animal shelters that offer certificates so that you can get your dog fixed at a discounted price. In some cases, you may pay less than $50, which can be a huge savings.

Anonymous

I am always a little amazed to see articles like this that extol the virtues of spaying and neutering your pets because I just assume everybody already knows about them.  Reading things like this tells me that there are still enough people out there blatantly ignoring the facts or just not paying attention that let their animals go on and keep their reproductive organs only to have that move come back and haunt them someday in the future.

My family always had female dogs and we never were really concerned with them reproducing because they had very limited contact with other dogs in general, but we did it anyway because it made them so much calmer and more easy to predict from a behavioral standpoint.
 
I remember having a breed of puppy at our house that was pretty well known for being a pretty “high-energy” breed and they were very active and rambunctious for their first handful of months.  Once they had their operation for spaying the dog calmed down a great deal and had a very wonderful temperament overall.  It just makes sense to get it done.

Anonymous

In the United States, we are a people that truly value the companionship of our animals and in many if not most families with dogs or cats, they genuinely consider their pets as a member of the family.  There is nothing wrong with this of course, but I think that our love for animals as pets may have a negative impact on the animals as a whole.
 
What I’m getting at is because we see these animals almost as people, we think they are deserving of the same rights as we are.  I believe it is this that stands in the way of making animal neutering not a legal requirement in this country.  Were it required, and of course there would be exceptions, then we could drastically reduce the amount of unwanted animals that are currently taking up the space in our shelters and pounds around the country.  It would also decrease the necessity to put these animals down if they are never allocated to a family and a home.  If you have an animal that isn’t spayed or neutered, get it done today!

Anonymous

I used to think it was cruel to spay or neuter a pet. I thought that we should let nature take its course and not interfere. I still believe that, but you can't do that with just one element of life and think it is going to work out.

What I mean is, every other species but humans and the ones humans impact have a lifespan that is regulated by nature. That is the way it is supposed to be. But then we humans decided we were more qualified and we started developing all of these medicines. Don't get me wrong, if the life of my loved one depended on those I would be all for it, but in general I think we are taking the wrong course as a whole. We want to control every other population but our own. And since we are greedy enough to skip over the fact that we are over-populated, we may as well try to limit the amount of unwanted animals that will suffer because we want to cover every square inch with humans rather than taking care of living things that are already here.

So to that end, spaying and neutering pets is a good idea. Otherwise, you are just letting more unwanted animals be created so they can suffer.