Whether or not to have a dog spayed (removing the ovaries and uterus) or neutered (removing the testicles) is an important decision you must make with the help of your veterinarian and the collective advice of other animal care professionals.
There are many different opinions when it comes to spaying and neutering, and some people are hesitant to do so for fear their dog will put on weight, the dog’s personality will change or he/she will develop behavioral issues as a result. Some veterinarians say that neutering before the dog is 6 months of age should be avoided because of growth problems, while others state that early neutering will have little effect on the dog’s growth.
Why Should You Spay/Neuter Your Dog?
- Whatever confusion there is about when and if to neuter, there is no dispute that neutering is the most significant way to reduce pet overpopulation in areas where people are unable/unwilling to contain their dogs. Millions of dogs are euthanized every year around the world because there are not enough homes to accommodate them.
- Neutering a male dog will eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and lower the chance of prostate disease and rectal tumors.
- Neutered male dogs are less likely to roam, scent mark, mount or hump other dogs. They tend to be less reactive, are more able to listen and are less sexually competitive with other males.
- Spaying a female eliminates the risk of pyometra (a potentially fatal infection of the uterus), uterine cancer and may reduce the risk of mammary tumors in later life, though this theory is under dispute.
- A female will have no heat cycles and consequently less mood changes associated with going into heat.
- Spaying or neutering dogs that are already showing aggressive tendencies might not help reduce these tendencies and might cause the behavior to increase, so behavioral therapy is needed along with neutering to ensure that the aggressive behavior is addressed appropriately.
- If you are a responsible guardian and keep your dog contained, leashed or under control when off leash, there is less chance that your dog will add to the pet population problem and therefore spaying and neutering might not be the best option for you. There is mounting evidence that spaying and neutering pups at a very early age, before puberty, can cause growth/health problems in later life due to the lack of sex hormones in the body.
- If you are unable to contain your dog, you should consider having your dog spayed or neutered.
Spay/Neuter Myths Debunked
- Myth #1: My dog will get fat after being sterilized.
False! Spaying and neutering might have an effect on your dog’s metabolism but if you monitor your dog’s food intake, do not feed scraps from the table, and give him plenty of exercise, your sterilized dog will stay fit and trim.
- Myth #2: My dog came from champion bloodlines and my breeder says it's my responsibility to breed him.
Your dog might help create a beautiful litter, but most responsible breeders require that their puppies are altered before a certain age. If your dog was responsible for a litter of puppies, and none of the puppies in that litter were altered, your dog could be responsible for the birth of 200 puppies in just one year. Talk about adding to the pet overpopulation problem!
- Myth #3: My dog needs to experience being a mother.
Motherhood is physically and mentally draining on a female dog. Every litter counts: evidence shows that female dogs spayed before their first heat cycle are healthier than those that are not, though this is also now in dispute. In general, if your dog tends to roam and you are unable to contain him or her, it is a sensible idea to spay or neuter your dog unless he/she does confirmation (is used for showing) or you are a responsible breeder.
- Myth #4: This is the best chance for my kids to witness the miracle of life.
Often the miracle of life is not as wonderful as you might imagine. Especially in large litters, there is often a stillborn or a puppy that dies soon after birth. The so-called miracle could be quite traumatic for a child. If you want teach your children responsibility and help care for pets in need, consider becoming a foster parent for your local rescue group.
- Myth #5: My dog will lose his manhood.
The concept of 'manhood' is entirely a human one. Dogs are not able to conceptualize sexuality or sexual identity. Neutering your male dog will not make him any less ‘manly.’
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