Ouch! If we’re thinking in purely human terms, the thought of spaying or neutering might sound, well, inhumane. Should you neuter your dog? Are you cruelly taking something away from them? Does it make your beloved buddy feel inferior? Is it self-serving, or truly in the dog’s best interest?
Fears and misinformation might cause dog lovers to pause, but there are caring and health-conscious reasons to spay and neuter our canine companions.
Should I Get My Dog Fixed?
The results of this procedure for your precious pet are three-fold, in that it benefits:
- Your Dog: The procedure not only reduces the risk of cancers and tumors associated with breasts, uterus, prostate and testicles, statistics show spayed and neutered animals tend to live longer, healthier lives. Females can also be miserable when they’re in heat, howling and unhappy. The procedure puts life on a more even keel.
- Your Community: Breeding and pet overpopulation leads to more animals in shelters, unloved, with many ultimately euthanized. Getting a dog fixed helps curb this rampant issue and saves other dogs from suffering.
- You: Spayed and neutered animals tend to exhibit less behavioral problems like marking territory, or those awkward moments of inappropriate mounting at the dog park. In most cases, you’ll see less aggression, and fewer biting tendencies manifest. They’re also not as likely to roam, get lost, etc. and instead focus attention on home and you!
What are we talking about?
Technically speaking, neutering is the castration of male dogs and removal of their testicles. Spaying for females is the removing of ovaries and reproductive organs. It sounds potentially traumatic, but benefits outweigh risks. In fact, some concerns are just misinformation. Consider the following:
Do they experience remorse and loss? No. We might project our emotional insecurities onto our companions, but for a dog, it simply removes one biological need, letting them be happier and fulfilled with the identity they have in your home.
- Does a male suffer feelings of emasculation? No. A canine might experience an adjustment period, realizing something is different, but we’re reading into things if we link it to doggy depression. Some even go so far as to get their buddy prosthetic testicular implants for alleged self esteem issues, but as PetMD points out, this cosmetic procedure isn’t necessary.
- Does a female suffer emotionally, never having puppies? No. The societal and personal pressure for a human female regarding children is very real. However, a female dog doesn’t need to have a litter of puppies to be emotionally fulfilled. The procedure is best performed before they even experience their first heat.
- Are there potentially negative side effects? As with any medical procedure, the answer is yes…but these are minor and rare, and some result when the procedure is done too early or late. The ASPCA website details the potential negative outcomes related to spaying and neutering.
- Does neutering cause obesity? No. Males can tend to put on weight, but obesity isn’t caused by the procedure so much as the fact that diet must be monitored and matched to the metabolism and appetite changes.
- Does Spaying a Dog Calm Them Down? Yes, in most cases. Since they’re not competing for attention in regard to mating, and certain hormonal protective instincts are removed. Most studies show decreased aggressive tendencies and better behavior, though one shouldn’t view spaying or neutering as the cure-all for puppy problems. It’s not a shortcut to avoid the hard work of quality obedience training.
Timing is Everything
The next question, of course, is when to spay a dog, or how to determine the best time to get them neutered.
Many dogs are sterilized as early as eight weeks, and most research and veterinary opinions suggest the optimal time is prior to six months.
This will likely avoid the first time females go into heat and males act on reproductive impulses to roam.
If your dog is older than six months and not fixed, consult a veterinarian for options.
When it comes time for the surgery, there isn’t a lot of prep. Standard recommendations will be no food after midnight the night before the procedure.
Recovery time is usually about two weeks, so you’ll need to be around for proper care and attentiveness to ensure your canine companion heals normally. Post-operative care details can be found here.
The Price is Right
The good news is that—since it’s a recognized help to the community and pet overpopulation problem, you can get the procedure done for very little expense. Averages seem to be between $50 and $200 (spaying costs more than neutering, since it’s more complicated and invasive). The Humane Society has a helpful page to match you with a local, affordable clinic.
Most experts and dog lovers will tell you that spayed or neutered dogs make better companions. The cost to you, versus the social responsibility and investment in your dog’s health and lifestyle, is well worth it.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Top image courtesy of Flickr