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Hopefully, your dog will only ever need one surgery in its lifetime. That is to say, spay and neuter.
When to spay or neuter is a question that has been debated for years.
But how old should your dog be to spay or neuter? Well, we're here to break down the myths and give you some solid information so you can make the best decision for your pet.
When it comes to these procedures, there's a lot of false information that has been going around for decades. Let's break down some myths and maybe you'll have a better idea about when to spay or neuter your dog.
What does it mean to spay or neuter your dog?
Spaying your dog is the removal of the ovaries and uterus. Neutering on the other hand is the removal of the testes in male dogs. For both procedures, anaesthesia is administered to keep your pet still during surgery. Complications can arise where surgery is concerned so you want to ensure that only professionals are doing it.
What is the best age to spay or neuter your dog?
There is no "best" age to undergo sterilisation for your dog. However, this advice from PDSA says that it is safe for most dogs from 6 months of age and upwards to undergo the procedure. The right time to spay or neuter your dog depends on the breed, size, weight and any other health conditions. Your vet will be able to tell you the best advice for your dog.
Benefits of spaying and neutering
Spaying and neutering have a number of benefits for both pets and their owners. Spaying eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer and uterine cancer in female dogs, while neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and prostate problems in male dogs. Spaying or neutering also helps reduce aggression in dogs, and to reduce the number of stray animals in rescue shelters.
In male dogs, neutering reduces marking behaviours and the risk of them getting into dog fights. While in females, it prevents attracting unwanted males that may get into a fight with your pet.
There are risks involved when having your dog spayed/neutered. But it's important to remember that the benefits significantly outweigh these.
Side effects of spaying and neutering
There are some side effects to spaying/neutering procedures, but these are usually minor and can be easily treated.
Side effects can include:
Anaesthetic reaction - this can be life-threatening but is very rare.
Infections at the site of surgery will require treatment with antibiotics and possibly a follow-up visit to your vet.
For female dogs
The most common side effect of spaying is a decrease in the number of heat cycles. Dogs who have been spayed will not go into heat and will not produce puppies. Dogs who have not been spayed will regularly go into heat which can be uncomfortable for dogs and messy for the owner.
For male dogs
Male dogs who have been neutered may experience a decrease in their sex drive, and may also become less aggressive. The neutering procedure may also help dogs who are "humpy" or constantly in the mood to hump by reducing this behaviour.
When should you have your pet spayed or neutered?
The best time to spay or neuter your pet depends on the breed, size, weight and any other health conditions. Speak with your vet to get specific advice for your pet. Most pets can be spayed or neutered safely from six months onwards.
There are a number of risks associated with holding off on spaying or neutering - both in terms of health and behaviour. For female dogs, the biggest risk is an increased chance of contracting certain types of cancer later in life. In male dogs, there is an increased chance that they will contract urinary incontinence as well as prostate diseases and testicular cancers. In both sexes, there is a chance of them developing hip dysplasia.
How much does it cost to get a dog spayed/neutered?
The cost of spaying or neutering a dog will vary depending on the veterinarian but according to this article by the pet insurance company Bought By Many, the average cost to neuter a male dog is between £110 to £230 and to spay a female dog will cost you anything from £154 to £397.
How long is the recovery time?
Your vet may recommend your dog wear the "cone of shame" after surgery to help keep them from licking or biting at the surgical site. This will help to reduce the risk of infection. The normal post-op recovery period after spaying or neutering is 1-7 days for female dogs and 1-3 days for male dogs.
For large breed dogs, recovery can take a bit longer.
When you take your pet home after the spaying or neutering procedure, it's a good idea to have someone home with them for 24-48 hours as they may be a bit groggy from the anaesthetic and should not be left alone during this time.
Your vet will provide you with comprehensive instructions for aftercare, including food and medication.
What to watch out for after the procedure
Just like humans who have had surgery, your pet may feel a little under the weather during the first few days after their procedure. You should watch for signs of pain, excessive bleeding, vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy. If you notice anything out of the ordinary or if your dog is in pain, you should contact your vet immediately.
Where can I find a vet near me?
If you're looking for a vet near you, RCVS (The Royal College of Veterinary Services) has a handy tool that can help you find one in your area. Simply enter your postcode or town name into the search bar, and you'll be provided with a list of local vets.
There is nothing better than word of mouth, and dog walkers in your neighbourhood will usually be more than happy to tell you who they use and who to avoid.
If you want to know more and hear advice straight from a Vet have a watch of this amazing video by Your Vet Online.
The benefits of spaying and neutering your dog can be clear, but you'll need to speak with a vet before making the decision, it is considered generally safe from 6 months of age for the spay and neuter procedures.
There are risks associated with not having your pet undergo these procedures as well, including increased risk of some types of cancers, so it's best to consult an expert on what is right for them (and their health).
Spaying and neutering also help reduce aggression in dogs and will reduce the number of stray animals in rescue shelters.
The cost of spaying or neutering your dog varies depending on where you go for surgery; however, most pets can safely have this procedure from the age of six months onwards. If you're looking for a vet near you, RCVS has provided some information that should help make finding one much easier!
Do you have any questions, tips or experiences to share about this procedure? Comment below to share your questions with the community.
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