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Spaying a Dog – What You Need to Know

Picture of dog on grass

Millions of dogs and cats are euthanized every year in the United States and everywhere around the globe. By spaying your pet, you will help control the pet homelessness crisis.

There are many other benefits to getting the procedure done, and one of the most important ones is that a female dog has a significantly lower risk of developing mammary and genital cancer if she was spayed before her first heat cycle. Let’s look at some things that you should know before and after spaying your canine companion.

When to spay a dog?

You can spay or neuter your pet even when he or she is at the age of six months or younger. Some veterinary facilities neuter pets as young as eight weeks old if they are healthy; the risk of post-op complications is extremely low, especially when compared to that of older animals that are performed surgery on.

Naturally, dogs can be spayed as adults, as well, but you will not be able to minimize the risk of your pet getting cancer as we have highlighted in the introduction. On top of everything, some adult and senior dogs have various medical conditions that might make the recovery a complicated process.

Pros and cons

Preventing unwanted litters and reducing stray dog populations are two of the major benefits of spaying your dog. Furthermore, you can reduce the spread of genetic diseases, inferior genetic traits, or congenital deformities by not allowing your pet to breed.

You can actively prevent uterine and ovarian diseases (pyometra being one of the scariest ones), as well as any hormone-induced diseases. Will spaying calm a female dog? To put it simply – yes, especially when performed before her first heat cycle.

In addition to everything, one of the most significant benefits is that your female dog is not going to attract any male dogs any longer as you walk her through the park.

As vigilant as you might consider yourself to be, the truth is that all pet parents walk their dogs off-leash now and then. If you fail to notice the signs of your dog being in estrus, you might end up with a litter of unwanted puppies – and then you’ll have to do your best to get them adopted. Needless to say, this is a complication that not many people want to deal with, especially since you have no control over the male dog’s breed and genetics. And dogs have STDs, too.

There are, however, several disadvantages, as well, and it would be unfair for us not to describe them. You lose the breeding potential and possibly valuable genetics of a female dog once she is spayed. She could become overweight and obese, and many studies have shown this to be true in about 25% of all spayed female dogs. There is this incorrect rumor going around that spayed dogs eat more than their counterparts, and it’s just not true. The metabolism of a spayed dog is just lower, and that’s why she gains weight.

Another significant con to getting your dog spayed is that the loss of estrogen or underexposure to the hormone can result in the underdevelopment of many feminine characteristics. Simply put, your dog might end up being smaller as an adult than a female of the same breed that hasn’t been spayed. This happens especially when the spaying is performed at a very early age.

Dog spaying has risks, like any other surgery.

In some cases, pet parents might feel like it costs too much. The cost, of course, depends on the veterinary clinic where the procedure is done. However, the cost of a caesarian section is much, much higher than that of a routine spay.

Can a dog be spayed while in heat?

While this is possible, you will find that many veterinarians choose for the estrus to pass before performing the procedure. Why is that? There are some complications that could arise while the operation is performed, and excess bleeding is one of them.

The operation

You will be asked to avoid feeding your dog at least eight hours prior to the surgery. She is allowed to drink plenty of water, however. Before surgery, your canine companion will be given a sedative-containing premedication drug and the actual sedative. The premedication drug cocktail can vary, and because of this, there are a number of different side effects.

The surgery consists of the removal of the female’s ovaries, as well as the uterus. There are two types of possible sutures that you will notice – sometimes, the vet can use non-absorbable skin sutures or absorbable skin sutures. In the first case, you will be required to bring your dog in around 10-14 days following surgery so that the sutures are taken out (if the dog doesn’t do that on her own); if the skin sutures are absorbable, they will disappear naturally.

How long is recovery for a dog being spayed?

If you are wondering what to expect after spaying a dog and you want to make sure that you provide her with the right care, this is the right section for you.

Recovery can last for a variable amount of time depending on the dog’s age, her health status, and a variety of other factors. Most dogs will have upset tummies after the operation, and so the vet might suggest you avoid feeding your canine buddy altogether, at least for a minimum of 18 hours following the surgery. You could have a talk with your vet about this, but it’s very possible that the staff feeds your dog intravenously so that you do not have to after the operation.

You might also be asked to give your dog anti-inflammatory medication (non-steroidal) such as Carprofen or Meloxicam. These drugs and many others that are used to minimize the pain and inflammation from the surgery should be given with food.

As for exercise, it is a good idea to keep it minimal, at least for ten to fourteen days following the procedure. You can both reduce the risk of your dog feeling any pain if you do not allow her to engage in exercise, and you can reduce the risk of a large seroma forming.

You can walk your dog, of course, but you shouldn’t allow her to run around in the park or jump on and off the couch. Whatever might put too much pressure on the sutures is bad. Light walking is not.

Wound care

It’s very important not to let your dog lick the wound. As you might know, your dog’s mouth is filled with bacteria. It would be ideal if you were to ask your vet to perform that intradermal suture we were mentioning before, because, in this way, your dog won’t have the ability to pull on the sutures and get the wound to open. Yes, that can happen, and it’s pretty scary.

It is advised not to wash or bathe your dog for a minimum of ten days following the surgery because the wounds have to heal properly. The sutures (if they are not absorbable) should be removed either at home or by a vet, and we would recommend going to the vet for this because you’ll also get an opinion as to how the wound is healing. Most clinics do not charge for this procedure.

Costs

There are low-cost spay and neuter programs available in some regions, and you can find them by doing a simple search on Google. Spaying your dog at such a facility will set you back around $50 to $180. Animal hospitals can charge more, and in some cases, they’ll even charge you $300 depending on your pet’s weight, age, and a variety of risk factors.

While it isn’t performed by many vets, you can get your dog spayed while she’s in heat, but it will cost you around $25 to $50 extra. The same goes for a pregnant dog – in that case, the procedure might be as much as $150 more expensive.

Final thoughts

Spaying your dog can be a responsible decision, especially if you aren’t looking to breed her. It will most certainly lower the risk of your pet getting genital or mammary cancer, and that’s the most important pro of all. If you’re still wondering what age to spay a dog, we’ll tell you that it can be done anytime as long as she is older than eight weeks of age.

Many people have this misconception according to which you should let your dog enter her first heat cycle and only then spay her. From a medical point of view, the heat cycle has no positive effect whatsoever. In fact, statistically, it increases the risk of cancer.

The surgery is a routine procedure, and there are little to no complications if your pet is in perfect health. If you aren’t looking to breed your female dog and you’re committed to offering her the right care throughout her life, we advise you spay her.

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