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Spaying & Neutering Dogs 101

Curious about what's involved in spaying or neutering your dog, and when you should have it done? There are also a few small risks involved in the procedure that you should know about. Today, our New York vets share the facts on these surgical procedures.

According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), about 6.5 million animals enter shelters or rescue systems across the United States every year. Of these animals, less than half are adopted as pets. 

One of the best ways to do your part to reduce the number of unplanned puppies born annually is to spay or enter your pet (cats can have the same type of veterinary surgery). This also lightens the load on shelters and rescues. 

What's the difference between spaying and neutering?

Neutering Male Dogs

Often referred to as castration, neutering involves removing your male dog's testicles, along with the associated internal structures. Following this procedure, your dog won't be able to reproduce. 

Alternative options for male dogs, such as vasectomies, aren't typically performed. 

Spaying Female Dogs

Spaying involves removing a female dog's reproductive organs, either by an ovariohysterectomy (the removal of the uterus and the ovaries) or ovariectomy (removing the ovaries only). 

After a spaying procedure, your dog will no longer enter heat and will not be able to have puppies.

When should you have your dog spayed or neutered?

You'll need to keep a wide range of factors in mind when thinking about having your dog spayed or neutered. Both vet surgery procedures can be performed on puppies as young as a couple months old, while traditionally, puppies are typically fixed by the time they reach 4 to 6 months old. 

The timing of your dog's spay or neuter procedure will depend on many different factors. Because larger dogs mature slower than small or medium-sized breeds, they should be fixed later. Many vets recommend females be spayed prior to entering their first heat cycle. If your adopted male and female puppies are around the same age, have them spayed or neutered before the female's first heat. 

Always ask your vet about when you should have your pooch spayed or neutered. They can perform a full physical exam and review your dog's medical history before conducting the procedure to minimize risk of complications. 

What are the benefits of spaying or neutering my dog?

On top of eliminating the risk of an unwanted litter of puppies, there are a wide range of benefits to consider when neutering or spaying your dog. 

Spaying your female dog will drastically reduce their risk of developing mammary cancer and pyometra, two potentially life-threatening conditions. And while it is not always the case, generally being spayed will put a stop to your female pup's instinctive breeding behaviors.

Neutering male dogs will help to prevent testicular cancer as well as cut back on a number of undesirable behaviors. These include aggression, humping, howling and roaming. All of this can help to prevent unfortunate events such as fights with other dogs or being struck by a vehicle.

What are the risks of spaying or neutering my dog?

While these surgeries and quite common and safe, they still should be performed by an experienced and qualified vet, as there is some small risk involved. But this is the case with any surgery that requires general anesthesia.

What does the recovery process look like?

Your vet will recommend specific pain management and post-operative care for you to provide your pet after surgery, but here are some general rules to keep in mind while your dog recovers.

  • Refrain from bathing your dog for at least 10 days following surgery.
  • For up to two weeks after the procedure, prevent your dog from running, jumping, or undertaking other strenuous activities.
  • Check your dog’s incision daily to ensure it’s healing correctly. Contact your vet if you notice swelling, redness, or discharge.
  • Keep your dog inside after their surgery, and away from other animals as they heal.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time for your dog's spaying or neutering procedure? Contact our New York vets to book an appointment today.

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