Do I have to sterilize my dog? This is one of the most frequent questions that our friends of the Las Almenas family ask us. If you also want to know what is involved in the sterilization of a dog and what are its advantages and disadvantages, do not miss a single paragraph of what we tell you here!
Neutering or spaying my dog?
Both interventions have the same objective: to prevent the dog from having offspring. However, the two terms are used as synonyms, but they are not. If you too are wondering “should I spay or neuter my dog?” you should consider the goals you are seeking and your veterinarian’s recommendations.
With sterilization, the dog’s fertility is prevented, but normalized sexual behavior is maintained. However, spaying is a more drastic and invasive technique than neutering that, in addition to the advantages of sterilization, manages to control problematic behaviors such as aggressiveness, running away, etc.
Spaying and neutering procedure
Understandably, you may be hesitant to consider spaying or neutering your dog. Your veterinarian can explain in more detail what these routine operations consist of.
When we talk about spaying in female dogs, we are referring to ovariohysterectomy, which involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries. For this, it is necessary to make a longitudinal incision in the abdomen. However, you can ask for a less invasive surgery by laparoscopy, which is somewhat more expensive, but minimizes discomfort and recovery time.
In males, castration involves removal of the testicles by orchiectomy. This is usually a minimally invasive operation, but if the testicles have not yet descended, abdominal surgery will have to be performed, which is similar to that performed on females.
Castration, by reducing the number of hormones, has a direct impact on the conduct, sexual behavior and aggressiveness of the dog, resulting in dogs that are easier to educate, which is more noticeable in the case of males.
On the other hand, sterilization is considered to be a less invasive surgery in which the veterinarian only performs a tubal ligation in females or ligation of the seminiferous ducts in males, that is to say, a vasectomy.
We know that talking about surgery scares us and we associate it with pain. But in these cases, do not worry because the surgery is performed under general anesthesia to ensure that during the procedure your dog does not feel any pain. Also in the postoperative period the dog will be able to take anti-inflammatories and analgesics prescribed by the veterinarian, especially females that might need them for a few days to ensure a quick and painless recovery.
Advantages of spaying or neutering my dog
Both spaying and neutering prevent unwanted pregnancies, however, neutering does not eliminate canine estrus. This is because the reproductive organs remain intact, therefore, the effects of the hormones are still present.
Thus, with sterilization, behavioral problems such as territorial marking, fights with other males and the typical escapes from home after a female in heat continue.
These problems can be solved with spaying.
The benefits of spaying a dog are several, both for you and for your dog: you reduce the risk of certain diseases and improve his behavior, besides avoiding headaches for you.
In female dogs, in addition to eliminating the risk of unplanned pregnancy, opting for spaying prevents uterine, ovarian and breast cancer, as well as other uterine infections that can be life-threatening.
The health of the male also benefits from castration, as testicular tumors are prevented, the risk of prostate cancer and other tumors and infections are reduced. The inappropriate behaviors that we have already mentioned, such as not trying to mount objects or marking his territory, wandering in search of a mate or becoming aggressive and ending up fighting and hurting himself, usually improve with castration.
Disadvantages of neutering or spaying my dog
Risk of surgery.
Both spaying and neutering are surgeries that involve general anesthesia, so it is something to consider.
Risk of stagnation of the dog’s development.
Since neutering changes the hormonal balance of the dog, it is possible that this may have consequences, especially in early castrations that can cause the dog’s physical and mental development to stop.
Tendency to overweight.
Again, because castration intervenes at a hormonal level, it is possible for the dog to gain weight, something that is more frequent in dog breeds such as retriever, cocker or Beagle.
Risk of incontinence
It is possible that the surgery may involve an increased risk of urinary incontinence, especially in females of larger breeds such as Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Boxers, Dobermans, etc.
Castration can also cause a change in the structure of the coat, which is more visible in long-haired breeds. This change leads to more complicated combing and grooming.
When should my dog be neutered?
Keep in mind that your dog reaches sexual maturity at around 6 or 7 months of age, although this also depends on the breed. Therefore, to avoid unplanned pregnancies, it is best to spay or neuter your dog before that age.
However, this is something to be decided by your veterinarian, since there are larger breeds in which it is advisable to spay or neuter them after their first year of life so as not to interrupt the development and growth process.
Other veterinarians prefer to wait until the dogs go through their first estrus before sterilizing them, which implies a close monitoring in that interval to know when the dog’s estrus takes place.
In males it is a little complicated to define the age at which to intervene because as they do not have ”estrus” we do not know at what exact moment they reach sexual maturity. But we can be attentive to certain behaviors that usually occur when a dog enters puberty:
- Starting to lift his paw to pee.
- He starts to want to mark his territory with urine.
- He tries to mount females.
You can see that these situations start to happen more or less between 6 and 9 months of age. The ideal is to neuter a male dog before he enters this puberty stage, so that he will not adopt territorial patterns, nor will he acquire mating behavior.
What post-operative care will the dog need after neutering?
As it is logical, after the operation your dog will be a little sleepy, but he will recover his energy and vitality right away. As the operation varies according to gender and whether it is spaying or neutering, the recovery process will also be different. However, from Las Almenas we recommend these tips to help your furry friend to heal as soon as possible.
- Pay attention to him and stay close to him during the first night after the operation, just in case.
- He may whimper or whine when he comes out of the anesthesia. Don’t worry, it is quite possible that he is feeling disoriented and that is why he is whining. However, if the whining continues, let your veterinarian know.
- Put him on a bland diet for the first few meals after surgery to avoid digestive discomfort or other reactions to the anesthesia.
- Follow your veterinarian’s guidelines and do not forget to give the dog the prescribed medication. They are usually analgesics, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, but it will be your veterinarian who will set the doses. Go for check-ups so that the vet can monitor his recovery. You may have scheduled appointments on days 3 and 10 after the operation.
- Control your dog when going outside. He may be able to go out the day after the operation, but you will have to walk him on a leash and close to you until the vet finally releases him at the 10th day check-up.
- To prevent him from licking or scratching the wound, he may have to wear an Elizabethan collar for several days or until he is discharged around the tenth day after the operation. If you see that the collar bothers him a lot, you can try to put a T-shirt on him.
- In the case of females, unless it has been a laparoscopic surgery, you will have to check the wound regularly to make sure it is healing properly. If it worsens in any way, contact your veterinarian.
Sterilize my dog: Spay or neuter, which is better?
Now that you know everything you have to weigh when deciding what to do, you should think about whether the idea of “spaying or neutering my dog” is still in your mind. If you are still in doubt, the best thing to do is to ask your veterinarian, who will be able to advise you taking into account the age and physical condition of your dog.
In general, spaying and neutering is usually recommended, but whichever option you choose, remember that this measure is an act of responsibility to avoid the birth of unwanted litters and, at the same time, to improve your dog’s quality of life.
So, after knowing the differences between both interventions… are you already decided to take the step? Or have you already spayed or neutered your dog? Tell us about your experience and if you have been thinking “should I spay or neuter my dog?” for a long time. You can write us here below or, if you prefer, through our profiles on Facebook, Instagram and on our Las Almenas YouTube channel. We look forward to reading your comments, don’t be shy, we’re family!