Like many pet parents, whether to spay or neuter your dog can be a big decision, and you are likely to have questions. That’s why we’ve taken the most frequently asked questions about dog spaying and neutering and answered them here so you can be prepared and confident that everything will go smoothly.
If you have further questions and are located in the San Francisco, CA are, please call us at (415) 333-0813.
What is the difference between dog spaying and neutering?
Spaying is performed on a female dog, while male dogs are neutered. In a spay, the ovaries and uterus are removed. In a castration or neuter, the dog's testicles are removed.
How does spaying or neutering impact the health and well-being of my pet?
In addition to helping control overpopulation, there are many advantages to spaying and neutering your dog. In this process, we are physically removing the producing organ of either testosterone or estrogen. Those two hormones can affect a dog's behavior in many different ways, including their territorial nature, roaming for a mate, and aggressiveness. All of that can be changed for the better when these procedures are done.
There is a strong correlation between unspayed female dogs and developing breast cancer, mammary cancer, and infections of the uterus. By removing the uterus, you decrease the likelihood of developing these conditions, unwanted heat cycles, and of course pregnancies. Female dogs can also develop some problems if you spay them too early, such as incontinence in their urinary system, so timing is important. There are also correlations between certain types of cancer and orthopedic disease, and the time of spaying female dogs. It can also vary for each size or breed of dog.
In male dogs, neutering prevents testicular cancer and prostatic benign hyperplasia. Many intact male dogs will roam around in search of a female in heat, or they may get into fights with other unneutered dogs, so we can prevent trauma and other injuries by removing their ability to produce testosterone.
How soon should I bring my pet in to see a veterinarian to get my dog spayed or neutered?
Six to seven months old is the average age that a dog should be spayed or neutered. Depending on the breed and size, the average male dog will come into sexual maturity at about eight to nine months of age, and you want them to be neutered before this stage. Giant breeds such as Great Danes, Great Pyrenees, and Newfoundlands can be as old as one and a half to two years before they reach maturity, so they can be spayed or neutered later.
Also, orthopedic surgeons have found that waiting for skeletal maturity means fewer orthopedic conditions later in life. Female dogs typically have their first heat cycle between six and eight months of age, so they should be sprayed about six or seven months before their first heat cycle. Having them seen by Animal Farm Pet Hospital before those ages would be wise.
What will my veterinarian need to know about my dog before spaying or neutering?
Part of any surgical procedure involves a pre-anesthetic exam, during which we'll do a nose-to-tail exam to check for any signs of disease that could affect the anesthetic or surgical recommendations.
As part of a pre-anesthetic exam, your veterinary team will do the following:
- Check for any heart murmurs
- Confirm that male dogs have two testicles and there is no cryptorchidism or monorchidism (when one or both testicles don’t descend into the scrotum)
- Look for signs of mammary tumors in a female dog and also confirm she isn’t in heat or pregnant
- Blood work to check for underlying kidney or liver problems and clotting diseases
- Ensure vaccinations are current
Animal Farm Pet Hospital now offers an ECG or EKG as well, which helps us to screen for heart disease.
How long will it take my dog to recover from being spayed or neutered?
We ask that you keep your dog confined for 10-14 days. That means they need to be on a leash when you take them outside and wear a plastic Elizabethan cone so they can't chew or lick at the surgical site. They are free to run around the house and climb on the couch and the bed, but they do need to be confined when you take them outside to eliminate. Swimming and bathing should be avoided, and exercise limited.
What care should I be prepared to provide at home while my dog is recovering from their spay or neuter surgery?
Aftercare is fairly minimal and varies depending on the dog and how they tolerate the procedure. It would be wise to have a kennel area set up with extra bedding and cushion for comfortable rest. If it’s summer and warm in the house, set up a fan to keep them cool. If it’s winter, keep them near a heat source for comfort. The main priorities are to minimize activity for approximately two weeks and administer pain medications and antibiotics orally as prescribed by your veterinarian.
If you have further questions about spaying or neutering your dog, please call us at (415) 333-0813.