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Spaying and neutering, defined as the sterilization of dogs through removal of their reproductive organs, are safe and routine medical practices performed by veterinarians across the country. But, the average dog owner may not know why the procedure is done, the associated benefits and whether the surgery is necessary. So, we’re shedding some light on what can be considered a taboo subject with the goal of arming you with crucial information related to your pup’s reproductive health and what it means for his future.
While it’s typical to sterilize a dog from six to nine months of age, veterinarians are now beginning to sterilize puppies as young as eight weeks old. Neutering or spaying your dog may seem costly at first, but in fact, it not only saves money in the long run, but also eliminates the responsibility of having to take care of an entire litter of puppies. Not to mention, sterilization keeps dogs off the streets and safe in happy, healthy homes. Let’s take a look at some of the additional benefits of each:
Spaying is the term used to describe the removal of the female reproductive system in animals. The medical benefits of spaying according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) include increased protection from diseases because spaying a dog before her first heat helps defend against tumors in the mammary glands and uterus. Spaying also eliminates the unfavorable attributes of the heat cycle during breeding season, such as excessive urination, irritability and bleeding.
Neutering is a general term for the castration of a male animal, though “neutering” can also be used to refer to the sterilization of both male and female animals. The AVMF recommends neutering to prevent male dogs from testicular cancer and prostate problems. Neutering also inhibits roaming in dogs, a marked trait of an unsterilized dog with the drive to travel far distances to mate. Neutering is also thought to improve the behavior of male dogs as the decrease in testosterone may allow them to be less territorial, less sexually aggressive and less likely to engage in humping and leg-lifting.
When Not to Neuter
While the clear benefits to sterilization are explained above, there are certain situations in which it is appropriate to leave your dog intact. First, if you are a qualified breeder, you will need to keep your dogs intact for breeding purposes. Second, if you plan to show your dog in a professional show, you will need to keep the dog intact as neutered dogs are not eligible given that the original purpose of showing was to evaluate a dog for its breeding stock.
Lastly, some holistic veterinarians allege that spaying and neutering your dog, especially before she has a chance to fully mature, is not only unnecessary, but harmful to the dog. If you decide not to neuter and don’t want an unplanned pregnancy, then it is vital to do the appropriate research and make responsible decisions such as keeping your dog out of social situations during heat cycles, etc. Spaying and neutering alleviates this worry in dog-owners, making neutering a popular option for American homes today.