For many new pet parents, deciding whether to get their dog fixed is a complex and emotional decision. In today's blog post, our Westminster vets discuss the benefits of spaying and neutering our furry friends.
What does getting a dog 'fixed' actually mean?
Let's start by clarifying exactly what 'getting your dog fixed' actually means.
'Fixing' is a generic term used when talking about surgeries performed on dogs in order to prevent the birth of puppies. These surgeries fall into two categories, spaying for female dogs and neutering for male dogs, although it should be noted that the term neuter is often used by pet parents when referring to either of these surgeries.
Spaying Female Dogs
- Spaying entails the removal of a female dog's reproductive organs through either an ovariohysterectomy (both uterus and ovaries are removed) or an ovariectomy (only the ovaries are removed). After your female dog has been spayed she will not be able to have puppies.
Neutering Male Dogs
- For male dogs, neutering, or castration, involves the removal of both testicles and their associated structures. A neutered dog is unable to reproduce.
Both of these surgeries are considered safe and are performed under anesthetic so that the pet feels nothing during the procedure. Modern surgical techniques and other advances in veterinary medicine mean that dogs typically recover very quickly after these surgeries, with minimal discomfort.
What are the benefits of getting my dog fixed?
Some pet parents question the need for these surgeries, but it is important to consider the enormous benefits of spaying and neutering, ranging from population control to cancer prevention. Below are just a few of the reasons why our Westminster veterinarians recommend that all dogs be spayed or neutered.
One of the most critical reasons for getting your dog fixed is population control. Animal shelters across North America are becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the number of dogs they are caring for, and trying to rehome. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) estimates that about 3.1 million dogs enter U.S. shelters every year, and about 390,000 dogs in shelters are euthanized each year. According to the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, the number of dogs in shelters rose between 2021 and 2022 by almost 4%.
Getting your dog fixed is the best way for you to help reduce these numbers, lightening the strain on animal shelters and helping to reduce the number of dogs waiting to find their forever homes.
Health Benefits of Spaying & Neutering
In addition to the important benefit of population control, there are a number of health benefits to spaying or neutering your dog.
Having your male dog neutered reduces your canine companions chances of developing testicular cancer and helps to lower the potential incidence of prostate cancer. Getting your female dog spayed eliminates the risk of potentially life threatening uterine infections and greatly reduces your furry friend's risk of developing mammary cancer.
Behavioral Benefits of Spaying & Neutering
Getting your dog fixed can also have a positive effect on their behavior. Unneutered males often show territorial aggression and frequently go to great lengths to escape the safety of their home or yard to roam in search of females in heat. Behaviors such as dog on dog aggression and humping can often be mitigated by getting your dog fixed.
Female dogs in their heat cycle frequently find themselves having to deal with aggression from other dogs. Getting your female dog fixed can help to make walks and trips to the dog park less unpredictable and more enjoyable for your pup.
What's the best age to get a dog fixed?
There are a number of factors that can influence the timing of these procedures, however, both spaying and neutering can be done on puppies as young as a few months old.
Up until recently, most puppies were fixed when they were between 4 - 6 months old. Recently however some veterinarians have begun recommending that these operations be done after the dog reaches sexual maturity between 6 - 18 months of age depending on the breed.
When it comes to deciding on the right time to get your dog fixed it's always best to speak to your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to provide you with recommendations for your unique pooch.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.