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Dog Spaying & Neutering: A Guide | Pupford

September 28th, 2023

Filed under Lifestyle + Stories

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One of the first questions a new dog parent usually asks is whether or not to get their dog spayed or neutered -- and when to do it in their pup’s life.

We get a lot of questions around this topic so we wanted to help give dog parents a little guidance here.

If you want more information about something specific, use the table of contents below to navigate through the article:

  • Dog spaying and neutering: the basics
  • When should I spay or neuter my dog?
  • Spay/neuter laws to be mindful of
  • What are the potential negative health consequences of spaying and neutering?
  • What are the potential positive health consequences of spaying and neutering?

Otherwise, let’s dive into the whole article.

Let's get started!

Dog Spaying and Neutering: The Basics

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Here in the United States, spaying or neutering your dog is seen as a responsible way for families to care for their dogs.

A lot of people have questions about what the procedures actually are. We’re going to give a high-level definition here, but be sure to contact your veterinarian if you want further details or have specific medical questions.

Here's a simple overview 👇

Spaying refers to removing a female dog’s reproductive organs (ovaries and uterus), leaving her unable to reproduce.

Neutering refers to removing male reproductive organs (testicles and associated structures) leaving them unable to reproduce and less likely to partake in mating-like behaviors.

Both procedures have been proven safe, and are even strongly recommended. In fact, a survey of practicing veterinary professionals revealed that 70% of all veterinarians recommend neutering to all clients.

Spaying or neutering your dog reduces unplanned litters, in turn decreasing the number of dogs that end up in shelters or rescues. There are also some health benefits to doing so, but we’ll get more into that in a little bit.

When Should I Spay or Neuter My Dog?

The most widely-debated question around dog spaying and neutering is not whether or not to do it, it’s when to do it.

There are two main schools of thought here: those that advocate for spaying/neutering before 6 months of age (usually around the 6-10 week mark) and those that advocate for waiting until after 6 months of age.

We’ll give you some pros and cons of both sides to help you make an informed decision for your dog.

The survey we mentioned earlier found that 90% of veterinarians recognize at least one benefit of early neutering. Those benefits include:

  • Better recovery from anesthetics and fewer post-op complications
  • Lessened risk of mammary neoplasia (the fewer cycles a female dog goes through before being spayed, the lower the risk)
  • Reduced risk of uterine and ovarian disease in females
  • Reduced risk of prostatic disease in males

While these are great benefits, the same survey we mentioned earlier found that found most veterinarians find benefits in early neutering also found that 84% see at least one perceived risk in early neutering.

That brings us to some of the advantages of waiting until after 6 months to spay/neuter your dog:

We recommend talking to your vet and deciding together what’s best for your pup!

Spay/Neuter Laws to Be Mindful Of

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Something to be mindful of with this topic is that there are different laws in different countries.

For example, while some countries view neutering as a part of responsible pet parenthood and strongly encourage it, other countries have laws sometimes forbidding it, or at least providing strict rules around how and when it can be done.

You should check with your specific country, and even state, to find out if any specific laws apply to you.

The American Veterinary Medical Association can provide an overview of state-specific laws within the United States, so you can see which ones apply to you.

What Are Potential Negative Health Consequences of Spaying and Neutering?

Just like with any medical procedure, spaying and neutering don’t come without risks.

There have been some negative health consequences associated with spaying and neutering, including:

It’s important to note that some of these risks are increased or decreased depending on conditions like the breed.

It’s best to talk to your veterinarian and address your concerns with a medical professional who can help you weigh the risks against the rewards for your specific pup.

What Are Potential Positive Health Consequences of Spaying and Neutering?

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Of course, there are plenty of positive health consequences associated with spaying and neutering. That’s why this procedure is so widely recommended after all!

The benefits include:

  • Decreased risk of mammary cancer
  • Removed risk of pyometra
  • Decreased risk of obesity
  • Potential longer life-span
  • A decrease in unwanted breeding and subsequent puppies
  • Fewer dogs ending up in shelters

We know we sound like a broken record here, but it’s best to talk to your veterinarian.

They know your pup’s health better than anyone and can give you specific guidance about what’s best for your dog.

How to Help With Your Dog’s Recovery After Spaying and Neutering

If your dog was recently spayed or neutered or is going to be soon, you’ll need to give them some specific care to help them recover.

The good news is that the recovery is usually routine, and your pup will be back to themselves in no time.

But in the meantime, here’s what you can do to help your dog’s recovery after spaying or neutering ⤵️

Limit Activity

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While dogs naturally like to jump and play, doing so following the procedure can cause the incision to open, or can just cause overall pain and discomfort.

Try utilizing an appropriate size crate and gates to confine your dog and keep them away from stairs, other animals, or furniture that they’d normally jump on.

If you have a smaller dog, carry them when possible.

Perform Proper Incision Care

It’s critical to make sure your pup’s incision does not get dirty or infected.

Your vet will give you specific care instructions, but in general, make sure it stays clean and dry.

Prevent Licking

Enter: cone of shame. It not only makes for adorable pictures, but it keeps your pup from licking at the incision which will make it wet and cause the surgical glue to dissolve too quickly.

As much as they give you “the look,” resist the urge to take the cone off. It’s for their own good.

You can also explore alternative methods to limit licking like compression suits, donut rings, and other similar items.

Monitor Pain Levels

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Your veterinarian will give you instructions for administering pain medication, but keep an eye on your dog’s behavior.

If they start to whimper, cry, or show any other signs of severe pain, contact your vet or the ASPCA clinic.

Keep Males and In-Heat Females Separate

Neutered male dogs can get an unspayed female pregnant for up to 30 days after the procedure. It’s best to separate newly neutered males from in-heat females for this time period.

Keep Them Busy

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There a few non-activity ways to keep your dog busy after being spayed and neutered.

One way is through mental exercise. You can read some ideas for mental exercise here.

Another powerful way to keep your busy is with dog chews.

Long-lasting, tasty, and healthy chews will keep your recently-spayed-or-neutered pup happy and busy!

Check out our entire 'Engage' line of puppy chews here.

And read our full article about ways to keep a dog busy after spaying/neutering here.

Give Some Extra Love

Happy and well-loved dogs will usually have an easier recovery. Plus, they deserve it.

Have some extra treats on hand -- it never hurts!

Often being there to give your dog comfort and companionship is the most important thing you can do.

Recap of Dog Spaying and Neutering (and a Fun Poll!)

On top of all the advice we've given in this article, remember to consult with your vet.

If you feel uneasy about your vet's recommendation, it may be worth getting a second or third opinion.

As a general recap, most vets will recommend spaying or neutering your dog.

The big debate falls around when you should perform the procedure. And as you read earlier, there are advantages and disadvantages to both early and late spaying and neutering.

Important note: If your dog is displaying ANY unusual or concerning behavior after being spayed or neutered, contact your vet immediately!

Before you go, take our quick poll below 🙌


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