When Is The Best Age To Spay or Neuter Your Puppy?
4 June, 2018
by: Lisa Fimberg
When you first bring your puppy home, there are so many decisions to make from the type of food for you pup or even the type of bed and crate! However one decision that should be a simple one is the need to spay or neuter your puppy. By spaying or neutering your puppy, it not only helps your puppy’s health but also contributes to preventing the overpopulation of homeless pets.
What is the difference between spaying and neutering your puppy?
Spaying is the removal of a female dog’s reproductive organs. When a female dog is spayed, the vet removes her ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. The point of spaying your pup is so that your female dog is no longer able to reproduce and the procedure eliminates her heat cycle.
When a male dog is neutered, both testicles and their related genitals removed. Neutering renders a male dog unable to reproduce; however any behavior related to breeding instincts, like humping, may or may not cease, the AVMA says. The procedure is also known as castration.
Why should your spay or neuter your dog?
Animal shelters and rescue groups are filled with unwanted puppies and dogs. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates there are 10,000 rescue organizations in North America, both those with shelters and those that rely on networks of foster homes to care for the animals. Yet, millions of unwanted puppies and dogs are euthanized every year, according to the HSUS. Spaying and neutering reduces the number of unwanted litters and there are just too many.
There are many medical benefits when spaying or neutering your dog:
For female puppies, spaying can help prevent uterine infections and breast tumors which are malignant in about 50 % of dogs. By spaying your puppy before her first heat can help guard against these diseases.
Neutering your male puppy can help prevent testicular cancer and some other prostate problems.
There are other behavioral benefits to spaying and neutering
A neutered male dog will be less likely to roam away from home. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate, including finding creative ways escape from the house! Once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other male animals and a chance that he won’t return.
Your neutered male may be better behaved. Unneutered dogs are more likely to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Your dog might be less likely to mount other dogs, people and inanimate objects after he’s neutered. Some aggression problems may be avoided by early neutering.
Neutering, of course, does not fix all behavior problems. Although neutering your dog will help reduce undesirable behaviors caused by a higher level of testosterone, there’s no guarantee that your dog’s behavior will change after he’s neutered. Although the surgery will reduce the amount of testosterone in your dog’s system, it won’t eliminate the hormone completely. The effects of neutering really depend on your dog’s individual personality, physiology and history and each dog is affected differently.
When is the best age to spay or neuter your puppy?
Spaying or neutering can be done as early as a few months old but your veterinarian can help you decide the best age to spay or neuter your dogs. Many vets recommend spaying or neutering be done between 5 and 9 months of age. AKC’s Canine Health Foundation conducted research that indicates there may be long-term health benefits to spaying or neutering dogs after they have passed through puberty.
Many recommend for female puppies to be spayed before their first heat, which can occur as early as 5 months of age. Spaying before the first heat greatly lowers the risk of mammary tumors. (Females who are spayed after their first heat also continue to have reduced risk compared to females that aren’t spayed.)
For owners of male dogs, there is a little more freedom in terms of timing. Some veterinarians and breeders recommend waiting until a dog reaches their full size before neutering because of the possibility of increased joint disease and cancers in dogs neutered early, especially for large breed dogs. Unlike in females, where there is a known benefit for performing a spay before the first heat cycle, the benefit to neutering a dog at two is the same as it is at six months; the main deciding factors in these cases is whether the owner is willing to put up with the behavior of an unneutered dog for that long.
Female puppies that haven’t been spayed go into heat twice a year. Often, this takes place in the spring and in the fall. Most dogs go into their first heat cycle around seven months (or even later). The heat cycle lasts about three weeks.
If your female puppy is in heat, this is not the time to spay her
Most veterinarians don’t recommend spaying a dog or puppy in heat. When your dog is in heat, there’s a lot more blood flowing to her surgery area. It becomes a more serious surgery for your pup. IF your puppy has gone into heat, it is recommended to wait to spay her until two to three months after her heat cycle is completely finished. That gives you plenty of time before her next heat cycle.
Spaying and neutering will not cause your dog to gain weight
Spaying or neutering will not cause your dog to become overweight. The only thing that causes weight gain is lack of exercise and overfeeding your dog. Neutering is not a side effect. Your dog will stay fit as long as you keep up with your dog’s daily exercise and watch the type and amount of food you feed your pup. If your dog does gain weight, here are some tips to take off the excess pounds!
Dogs do tend to need fewer calories after being spayed or neutered but changing their diet appropriately and keeping them active will prevent weight gain.
Tips to help your puppy before and after spaying and neutering
Your veterinarian or clinic where you spay or neuter your pup will give you the pre-surgical advice to follow. In general, avoid giving your puppy any food after midnight the night before surgery.
Your veterinarian can also provide post-operative instructions for you to follow. Although your puppy may experience some discomfort after surgery, your veterinarian can take various measures to control pain. Depending on the procedure performed, medication for pain might be sent home with you just in case.
Some recommendations to follow post-surgery:
- Provide your puppy with a quiet place to recover indoors and away from other animals.Try to prevent your puppy from running and jumping for up to two weeks following surgery, or as long as your veterinarian recommends.
- Make sure that your puppy does not lick the incision which can cause infection. Most dog owners use an Elizabethan collar to prevent the licking, especially when you aren’t home.
- Avoid any baths for your puppy for at least ten days after surgery.
- Check the incision daily to make sure it is healing properly. The incision for a female dog that’s just been spayed will be several inches in length. It’s a fairly large incision that must be closely monitored for any signs of infection.
- Clean the Incision daily – For the first few days, you should clean the incision several times a day using dine (or whatever your veterinarian recommends), which can be applied (generously by) using a sterile pad to gently pat the dog’s surgical incision and surrounding areas. This will disinfect the incision and surrounding skin.
Some veterinarians will close the incision with glue or dissolving stitches. If you are unsure whether the stitches need to be removed after spaying, it’s important to consult your vet. However, most veterinarians should give you all of this information when you bring your dog in for spaying.
How long does it take a dog to recover from spaying or neutering?
Don’t let your dog run around and jump on and off things for up to two weeks after surgery, or as long as your vet advises. Make sure your dog is unable to lick the incision site by using an Elizabethan collar. While it’s hard to contain your puppy, while recovery, your puppy will be a little more low-key and less energetic.
Take your puppy to the vet if you notice any swelling or discharge
If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge where the incision was made or around it, make sure to take your dog or at least call your veterinarian. If your dog’s energy level has not returned in a few day, or if you puppy is eating less, vomiting or has diarrhea, please go see your veterinarian.
Are there any risks when spaying and neutering?
While both spaying and neutering are major surgical procedures, they are also the most common surgeries performed by veterinarians on both cats and dogs. Like any surgical procedure, sterilization is associated with some anesthetic and surgical risk, but the overall occurrence of complications is very low.
Before the procedure, your dog is given a thorough physical examination to ensure that he/she is in good health. General anesthesia is administered to perform the surgery and medications are given to minimize pain. As mentioned above, you will be asked to keep your dog calm and quiet for a few days after surgery as the incision begins to heal.
What does it cost to spay or neuter your puppy?
The cost of spaying or neutering a dog varies by geographic area as well as the size of the dog. A low-cost clinic may charge in the range of $45 to $135 but can go as high as $300. But, not to worry. There are many low-cost spay and neuter clinics that you can find in your area. In fact, when adopting a dog, a lot of the different organizations will include spaying or neutering in the cost. The ASPCA can help dog owners find an affordable spay and neuter service in your area.
Make sure to spay or neuter your puppy to help not only your puppy but the overall population of foster dogs. Did you know that puppyhood is the best time to get pet insurance? Make sure to take a look at our list of the 7 best pet insurance companies of 2018 to help get you started.