When Should I Spay or Neuter My Dog
Billions of dollars are spent annually on companion animals - we buy toys, treats, food, leashes, collars, food bowls,
beds, crates and pay veterinarians, trainers, groomers, pet sitters, dog walkers, professional poop-scooping
companies, pet psychics, pet masseuses, and pet health insurers thousands of dollars over the course of a single
pet's life. We do all these things because animals make our lives better. Most pet owners would agree that the
money we spend on pets pales in comparison with the amount of joy they bring us.
All of these expenditures are directly related to improving the lives of the animals we share our homes with. While it
is important to care for your pet in the best manner that circumstances allow, it is also important that we remember
the one simple thing each of us can do to improve the lives of not only our own dogs and cats, but dogs and cats
throughout the nation and internationally - spaying and neutering dogs and cats.
Why You Should Spay Or Neuter Your Pet
There are many benefits of spaying or neutering your pet. One of the most important is that spaying dogs and cats
ensures that your own pet will not contribute to the pet overpopulation crises. Unaltered cats and dogs can be
prolific breeders, and there are many more cats and dogs needing homes than there are homes for them. Pets
without homes are often euthanized in shelters or left to fend for themselves, often unsuccessfully, in the search of
food and mating opportunities. Others spay/neuter pets for health reasons.
Benefits of Neutering Male Dogs
• Eliminates the small risk (probably <1%) of dying from testicular cancer
• Reduces the risk of non-cancerous prostate disorders
• Reduces the risk of perianal fistulas
• May possibly reduce the risk of diabetes
Benefits of Spaying Female Dogs
• If done before 2.5 years of age, greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors, the most common
malignant tumors in female dogs
• Nearly eliminates the risk of pyometra, which otherwise would affect about 23% of intact female dogs;
pyometra kills about 1% of intact female dogs
• Reduces the risk of perenial fistulas
• Removes the very small risk (.5%) from uterine, cervical, and ovarian tumors
Spaying & neutering also reduces roaming behaviors, territorial marking behaviors, intersex aggression, etc. in dogs.
The Spay/Neuter Debate
As with any major surgery, there are both benefits and risks associated with spaying and neutering. While spaying
and neutering pets seems to reduce the risk of many cancers and illnesses, there is evidence that it can contribute
to others, and there is research that indicates that spaying and neutering can decrease some behavioral problems
while contributing to others. Most veterinarians advise spaying and neutering around six months of age. Some dog
owners, particularly those with large breed dogs, prefer to wait until the dog has physically matured until neutering
or spaying. Dogs that are neutered/spayed after reaching full maturity tend to be more muscular than early
spay/neuter dogs, which is important in working dogs.
Some dogs may have health problems which might prohibit spaying or neutering. Educate yourself about the
behavioral and physical health benefits and risks associated with surgery and have a discussion with your
veterinarian about what is best for your dog.
If You Decide Not To Spay Or Neuter Your Pet
As of right now, the law cannot force you to spay or neuter your pet (although legislation to this effect has been
proposed). If you choose not to spay or neuter your pet, it is imperative that you do not allow your pet breeding
opportunities. If you have an unspayed female, she must be on leash at all times during a heat cycle and not be
given the opportunity to interact with intact males. If you have an intact male, it is your responsibility to contain him
safely so that he does not run through the neighborhood creating the next batch of puppies that will end up dying in
a shelter because there are no homes for them.
Dogs should only be bred intentionally to other similarly accomplished purebred dogs if they have conformation
championships, all health testing appropriate for the breed, are over two years of age, in top physical condition,
display no behavioral problems (shyness, aggression, reactivity), if the breeder is prepared to spend a LOT of time
and money whelping and socializing the litter, carefully interviewing potential adopters and educating them on the
breed. Breeding should be left to those with a good working knowledge of canine genetics, the history of the breed
and their goals for improving the breed.
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Should I Spay or Neuter My Puppy?