As dog parents, the safety and happiness of our furbabies are of utmost importance to us. They rely on us completely, and we are responsible for giving them the very best care.
Deciding what we do about our dog’s health can be quite a struggle, involving extensive research and weighing the risks and benefits.
One key question we will ask ourselves is whether we should spay or neuter our dog. Spaying and neutering has heaps of pros and cons.
In this article, we will cover:
- What is spaying and neutering?
- Pros and cons of spaying and neutering
- When is the right time to spay or neuter?
- What are the preparations and procedures for spaying/neutering?
- When will my Dog Recover from spaying/neutering?
What is spaying?
Spay, otherwise called ovariohysterectomy, is a surgical procedure of removal of a female dog’s reproductive organs, specifically the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes.
What is neutering?
Neutering or castration is the surgical procedure of removing a male dog’s testes.
Pros of spaying / neutering
Spay has been the norm of most dogs, especially in the US. It is even a requirement in shelters of most states to spay/neuter the dogs before they are rescued.
The average lifespan of spayed and neutered dogs is surprisingly longer than unspayed dogs. A study on the association of a dog’s reproductive capability and lifespan showed that among the 70,574 dogs, the spayed/neutered dogs lived longer than intact dogs.
Spaying increased the female dog’s life expectancy up to 26.3% with 9.4 years as the average age compared to the 7.9 years for unspayed dogs.
This finding is supported by Banfield Pet Hospital's State of Pet Health Report which analyzes the medical data of around 2.2 million dogs. The report presented that the average lifespan of a spayed/neutered dog is 11.6 years, which is 23% longer than intact dogs.
The longevity of a spayed dog’s life can be attributed too to the reduced roaming behavior of the dogs, which often causes fatal traffic accidents or fights.
Reduced health problems
Spaying your female dog before she turns 2.5 years old greatly reduces her risk of having breast cancer, which is common to unspayed dogs. It also reduces risk in cervical, uterine, and ovarian tumors.
Mammary tumors are also less likely to develop in spayed dogs. It has a 0.5% chance to develop if spayed before their first heat cycle, 8% chance before their second heat cycle, and 26% chance before their third heat cycle.
Additionally, spayed dogs are less likely to experience perianal fistula, a serious medical condition that is described as an inflammation in the surrounding area of the anus.
Spay also eliminates the risk of developing pyometra, a serious and life-threatening urine infection that affects nearly 23% of unspayed female dogs and kills about 1% of them.
Neutering your male dog has a variety of health benefits. Neutering helps prevent prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and perineal hernias. It also reduces the likelihood of your dog getting an infection in his penis.
Unwanted dog pregnancy
Spaying can prevent unwanted or unplanned dog pregnancy because it eliminates the heat cycle, which usually happens twice a year. During their heat, the female dog will give off a scent that allures male dogs, leading to unwanted dog visitors and the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy.
Preventing the overpopulation of dogs can prevent homeless dogs from wandering around, overpopulated shelters decrease public concerns associated with dogs, and lessens euthanasia rates.
Alleviate behavioural problems
Spaying does not only eliminate the heat cycle of a female dog, but it also eliminates hormone fluctuation, mood swings, and undesirable behaviors like aggressiveness, digging, and marking.
Neutering reduces the testosterone levels in male dogs, making them calmer, and less likely to get into a fight, especially if females are around.
Since the heat cycle is eliminated from the spayed female’s dog, the dog’s urge to escape and roam to find a mate is also eliminated. Neutered male dogs will also stop roaming to find females.
Roaming can cause injuries from fighting with other animals, and accidents.
Cleaner dogs, cleaner home
Female dogs excessively urinate and bleed during their heat cycle. They usually go on heat twice a year and each for about ten days.
Neutered male dogs are also less likely to mark around the house and property.
Yes, you can save money from spaying and neutering your pet. Spaying might involve money, but it can save you money in the long run.
Spaying/neutering can prevent you from spending on health emergencies or serious medical problems that your dog might experience, like tumors, pyometra, and cancer.
Spaying/neutering dogs can also save you from spending money on unwanted dog pregnancies.
Veterinary care during pregnancy, delivery, and care for litters can cost you money and time. It is way cheaper to spay your dog than raise a litter of puppies!
Cons of spaying
Of course, there is a flip side to every coin.
Altered dogs can have reduced metabolism, resulting in weight gain and increasing the risk of obesity.
Studies have shown that altered dogs are 1.6 times more likely to be obese and 1.2 times more highly likely to be overweight than intact dogs.
Obesity can pose other health problems to dogs. Such health conditions include hypothyroidism, urinary tract disease, and ruptured cruciate ligament.
However, with regular exercise and a strict feeding regimen, you can easily stave off weight gain.
Anesthetic and Surgical Risk
Sterilization is one of the most common surgical procedures that is performed by veterinarians. Since it is considered a major operation, this requires general anesthesia and like all surgeries, may have anesthetic and surgical risks.
However, the risk of complications due to anesthetic is very low because veterinarians now use modern equipment for monitoring heart and respiratory rates during surgery.
Increased Risk of Certain Health Problems
Some health problems that are associated with altered dogs are urinary incontinence that affects middle-aged and older dogs, urinary tract infections, negative reactions to vaccinations, recessed vulva, vaginitis, and vaginal dermatitis.
Because of their lower testosterone levels, male dogs that are neutered may not be as aggressive or driven. Many working, personal protection, and Schutzhund dogs are left unaltered to retain their prey drive and aggression.
When is the right time to spay my dog?
A dog’s age matters in deciding when to alter a dog. Research has shown that altering at an early age or even at a later age is associated with certain health problems. For instance, large dog breeds have increased health risks if altered earlier than one year old.
Generally, it is recommended to alter dogs when they are between six to nine months old. However, there are different factors to consider aside from age, like breed, health conditions, behavioral factors, and environment. It is best to consult your veterinarian first to determine when to alter your pet.
What are the preparations and procedures for spaying/neutering in Singapore?
Spaying and neutering are relatively easy procedures that don’t require much pre-surgery preparation. On the night before the surgery, withhold food and water so your dog doesn’t throw up because of the wooziness felt from the general anesthetic.
On surgery day, keep your dog confined to the crate as you get into the vet’s, and stay calm. Remember, this is a relatively easy procedure that has been done millions of times successfully!
At the vet’s, your dog will undergo a thorough physical examination before surgery to check your dog’s condition before general anesthesia.
During the surgery, your veterinarian will also monitor your dog’s heart and respiratory rate to ensure that your dog is doing well during the surgery. Post-surgery care instructions will then be given by your veterinarian.
When will my dog recover from spaying/neutering?
After surgery, some veterinarians will let your dog go home the same day or will require your pooch to stay the night. Medication will be provided to relieve post-surgery discomfort and pain.
When you get your puppers home, keep them calm and confined, and try to limit extreme physical activity for a few days while their stitches heal.
In addition, keep an eagle eye on the incision site. This means keeping the area clean and dry and frequently checking for any signs of infection. If you notice anything unusual, contact your veterinarian right away.
Administer any pain medications your vet has given you but don’t overdo it. If your pet cannot feel pain, he or she might be more active and hurt themselves more.
Make sure they are eating a healthy diet post-surgery. This will help them recover quickly and get back to their old selves.
An Elizabethan collar, or cone, may be given to your dog to prevent licking the surgery incision.
Lots of rest is needed and swimming, bathing, or running is restricted. Keep your dog occupied with low-key activities - this is prime time for some quality bonding on the couch with the TV on!
Most dogs heal quickly when they are young, and in about five to ten days, normal activity can be resumed.
Follow-up check-ups are also advised for the removal of stitches and checking your dog’s health.
Cost of spaying/neutering in Malaysia
The cost of spaying varies across the country and the facility where the surgery is performed, but runs about RM300 to RM800 on average.
You can ask your veterinarian for an idea, and some vets might offer low-cost and no-cost options for spaying and neutering rescued dogs, so do your research and check with rescue groups and a variety of vets.