When to Spay a Dog

when to spay a dog
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Do you find it difficult to decide when to spay a dog? This thought crosses almost every dog owner’s mind. And the mere thought of putting your cute little canine fella through the daunting process of spaying, putting your dog under anesthesia, the surgical procedure, and painful days that follow, might be heart-rending for you.

We get that. However, you should also know that spaying a dog is a necessary step that every responsible dog parent has to take.

Castration vs Neuter

The term “neuter” is incorrectly reserved for male dogs. Actually, the word neutering refers to the sterilization of both sexes. However, the term “castration” is reserved for the sterilization of males. Similarly, the term “spaying” is reserved for the sterilization of female dogs only.

Why should you spay your dog?

Spaying and neutering dogs not only help control the dog population but is also beneficial for the health of your dog.

To control the dog population

Dog castration is necessary to control the growing population of dogs. Even though dogs are loving animals but the problem is that there are too many of them with fewer homes to keep them. Around 6 and 8 million animals are admitted to animal shelters in the United States each year, according to a research carried out by Mississippi State University. Approximately 50% of those animals, that are otherwise perfectly adoptable pet animals, are euthanized. Many more die in road accidents, and yet others are dying of chronic diseases and starvation. Therefore, it is only responsible to get your dog spayed to cater to the ballooning population of dogs.

To reduce the risk of diseases

Other than population control, neutering dogs is equally important for your dog’s health and longer life.

  1. To begin with, spaying eliminates the possibility of the development of testicular cancer in male dogs and uterine and ovarian cancer in female dogs.
  2. It also significantly reduces the chances of the development of breast cancer in female dogs. It also keeps them from going in the heat and having mood swings.
  3. Spaying reduces the chances of prostate cancer in dogs.
  4. Lastly, spayed dogs are also less aggressive and have a comparatively longer and healthier life.

When to spay a dog?

In view of the benefits of spaying your dog, you must give serious thought to neuter your dog. Stop right there! You cannot just spay your pet at any time. Neutering a dog at the wrong time can hurt your buddy in the long run which is counterproductive.

Where early spaying can cause urinary inconsistencies, joint disorders, and risk of cancer, late spaying also has many side effects. Therefore, if you are going to sterilize your dog, you must know when to neuter a dog.

Dog parents that are familiar with the benefits of spaying are eager to sterilize their puppies. They ask when to get a puppy neutered. They would love to hear an absolute answer, a specific recommendation. But unfortunately, there is no single, one-size-fits-all answer to this. According to American Veterinary Medical Association, there is no single recommendation regarding the perfect time for spaying a dog that would be applicable to all dogs—age-wise as well as breed-wise. They argue that many factors including breeds, gender, genetics, and health conditions matter in assessing the right time to neuter a dog.

The best time to neuter a dog

The best time to neuter a dog is right before they hit puberty. Sounds pretty simple. Right? Well, the catch is that it is not easy to determine the time your dog will reach puberty. While the family history and genetics might help, one still cannot be certain.

Ugh! So when can you neuter a dog?

We totally understand your frustration but you know, being a dog parent comes with its own set of responsibilities. (You already knew this well before bringing the canine fella into your home.)

Still, stop fretting. Below, some signs of sexual maturity are discussed that would help you identify the time when your dog is nearing puberty, which is the best time to neuter your dog.

For male dogs

There are many signs of sexual maturity in male dogs that can help you identify that your dog is about to reach puberty. These changing behavioral signs include raising their leg while urinating, frequent humping, and aggressiveness.

Small dogs such as Maltese and Pomsky etc. can be neutered at a very young age of 6-12 months as they hit puberty faster. Conversely, for your large dogs such as Bulldog and Afghan Hound etc., you might have to wait for them to get 9-18 months old as they take time to reach puberty.

For Female Dogs

While the changing behavioral signs are quite similar in female dogs, they will also experience mood swings and will seek attention from male fellas as they go into their first heat. While smaller female dogs go into their first heat at around the age of 6 months, larger dogs can take around and sometimes over a year.

Can you spay a dog in heat?

Yes, but you should avoid it.

Confusing? Well, let us explain.

While dogs can be neutered in heat, most of the veterans are reluctant to perform the procedure due to the risks involved. To begin with, the surgery during the heat is complex and takes longer to complete the procedure. The excessive flow of blood exacerbates the situation, making it more complicated, often requiring the use of surgical lasers.

How much does it cost to spay a dog?

On average, the cost of spaying a dog can be as low as $20 and often as high as $800. The lower costs are usually subsidized by the public animal care agencies. To find out low-cost spaying options, one needs to look for public veterinary clinics.

The cost to neuter a dog depends on many variables like the dog size, breed, and medical health. Comparatively, the cost to spay a female dog is higher than neutering a male dog. And when the female is in heat, the cost of spaying spikes up.

Hope this blog answered your queries. Looking for more regarding keeping a dog? You need to explore our Dog Health section—it is all about dogs!


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