While we know that making the decision to permanently sterilize your dog is a difficult one, we feel it is crucial for all pet owners to know the importance of spaying and neutering their pet.
Spaying and neutering your dog can increase their lifespan, decrease serious health issues, make them more manageable, and reduces the incidence of canine overpopulation and homelessness. It can also be good news for your wallet.
What Is Spaying and Neutering?
Let’s start by clarifying the difference between spay and neuter. The definition of spaying is the sterilization procedure that female dogs undergo, where their uterus and ovaries are removed. The definition of neutering pertains to male dogs, in which sterilization is done through removal of the testicles.
The spaying and neutering procedures are done under anesthesia and take very little time. Spaying takes 15 to 20 minutes, while neutering typically takes 10 to 15 minutes or less. Both surgeries require several stitches. The risks are minimal to healthy, young dogs and they will return to normal activities within a few days.
Now, let’s look at some of the reasons to have your dog undergo a spay or neuter procedure.
Reasons to Spay/Neuter a Dog
There is nothing as eye-opening to the importance of spaying and neutering your dog as cold, hard facts. We’re talking avoiding millions of dog deaths, financial savings, and the overall health and behavior of your dog.
Let’s take a look at the advantages of spaying/neutering your dog…
Reducing the Incidence of Homeless Dogs
Dogs have a natural inclination to breed and without society’s checks and balances—in this case spaying and neutering—there would be a clear overpopulation of canines in our midst. One of the unfortunate results of neglecting to curb this natural inclination is litters of puppies that cannot find a home.
Often, pet owners cannot afford to keep a whole litter of puppies. When they have nowhere to place them, they are either abandoned or turned over to a shelter. Those that are abandoned often die due to malnourishment, mistreatment, or through car accidents when wandering the streets.
Puppies turned over to shelters cannot always be placed. While they certainly do their best, sheer numbers prevent them from fulfilling the ideal situation. When this is the case, these homeless puppies and dogs have to be euthanized. Currently, millions of healthy dogs are euthanized each year, which is a tragedy that we should all want to avoid and a fact that weighs heavily in support of the importance of spaying and neutering your dog.
Maintain Canine Health and Reduce Veterinary Costs
The importance of spaying or neutering your dog can help your pocketbook over the long term.
It’s a fact that dogs that are spayed or neutered live longer than their intact counterparts. In fact, they live about 20% longer, which could give you an extra year or two with your canine companion.
They also live a healthier life. Spayed and neutered dogs have a reduction in several serious (and costly) health issues. Male dogs experience a lower rate of certain cancers, such as testicular cancer, as well as less prostrate problems. Female dogs also benefit, with a reduction in uterine infections and breast tumors, among other things.
Spayed and neutered dogs also have a decreased need to roam, meaning they are less likely to get in dog fights or be hit by a vehicle, which could result in enormous veterinary costs.
Oh, and did we mention that the cost of the procedure far outweighs the cost of a litter of puppies, that will need to be fed and have shots!
Reduction in Behavioral Issues
By spaying or neutering your dog, you’ll see less aggression and assertiveness, both of which can lead to dog fights or human dog bites. Males, in particular, are less likely to mark their territory, thereby saving carpet and furniture cleaning costs. And with no biological need to find a mate, their roaming instinct is severely curtailed. No chasing Fido around the neighborhood!
Female dogs will avoid going into heat once spayed. Avoiding this means you won’t have to sequester your dog or deal with her constant yowling, as well as frequent urination. It also means you won’t be cleaning up blood spots on the floor or your furniture.
When to Neuter or Spay a Dog
Not only is important to spay or neuter your dog, but it is important to do it as early as possible. This is due to the fact that your dog will have a better chance of survival from several types of cancer and their behavior will not be ingrained like it is in an older dog. Urine marking, aggression, and assertiveness are traits built over time, so the older that your dog is, the less effective spaying/neutering will be on these habits.
So, when should you spay or neuter your dog? The minimal age for the procedure in a healthy puppy is 2 months (and at least 2 pounds). Current guidelines recommend to spay or neuter between 4 and 5 months at private vet offices. Females usually go into their first heat at 6 months of age, and it is advisable to have it done prior to that first heat.
Older dogs can certainly undergo the procedure as well, as there is no upper age limit for spaying or neutering.
The cost to spay or neuter your dog will vary by city, county, and state, and whether you use a traditional veterinarian or your local SPCA or shelter. The average runs about $200, but low-cost options are available. (See below.)
There are low-cost options across the country. To check on these low-cost spay and neuter programs, head over to this link at the ASPCA.
For information on the CCSPCA’s Snip N’ Chip Service—a low-cost spay and neuter service for California’s Central Valley—check here.
We cannot stress enough the importance of spaying and neutering your dog. It is the humane thing to do, for both your canine companion and the world at large.