Responsible Pet Ownership 101: Spaying & Neutering Your Dog

Responsible Pet Ownership or RPO is a concept used to guide pet owners on how to properly care for their pet dogs, cats, and other animals. One of the most important parts of RPO is spaying and neutering your pet dog. Keep in mind that spaying refers to the procedure done in female dogs, and neutering is done for male dogs.

Why spay or neuter dogs? 

Spaying and neutering stop unwanted behavior seen when the dog is mature enough to reproduce. Spaying can stop female dogs from going in the heat and thus prevent anxiety, nervousness, and stress during these times. In male dogs, neutering will stop it from humping. 

Spaying and neutering will stop unwanted breeding in dogs. Keep in mind that animal shelters and rescue centers from everywhere are full of unwanted dogs and puppies.  Only a small fraction of the animals in centers are adopted and taken to good homes. 

Also, these behaviors have advantages to your dog’s health. A dog can live longer, healthier, and happier when it is spayed or neutered because these can prevent serious health issues such as cancers and uterine diseases and infections.

Neutering will also prevent testicular cancer. There is also evidence that shows that neutered dogs are less aggressive compared to non-neutered dogs. These dogs are also less likely to stray, which is a common reason why dogs get into fights, accidents, and get hit by vehicles.

When to spay or neuter a dog?

The ideal age would be from 4 to 6 months, but some vets may spay or neuter at 2 months. Consider the breed as well since some breeds mature earlier or later. Larger dogs can take two years to fully mature. Vets may also recommend spaying females before she goes to the first heat cycle. It can happen anywhere from 5 to 10 months. This is done to reduce the risk of dog breast cancer. 

In males, smaller dogs must be spayed and neutered earlier at 6 months. A large dog may take up to a year to be ready. A complete and thorough medical checkup is needed before a dog is ready for the procedure. Your pet should be healthy, free from illness, or any health issues before he or she is cleared. 

Caring for a spayed or neutered dog

Spaying and neutering is a general surgical procedure. It will last up to an hour to complete. Some vets will require the dog to remain in the clinic for a night for careful observation after the procedure. At home, remember the following when caring for a post-spay or neuter dog.

  • Make your dog wear an Elizabethan collar until its stitches, and its wounds have healed.
  • Do not allow your pet to go outside or to play with other pets while recovering.
  • No jumping or running during the recovery period.
  • Monitor the surgical wound daily and clean with a disinfectant. Check if there is any inflammation, redness, discharge, or any smell coming from the wound. For any of these signs, take your pet to the vet at once. 
  • Avoid bathing or applying anything on the wound at least ten days after the procedure.
  • Take your pet to vet for any unwanted behavior like poor appetite, weakness, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • Gauge if your pet is in pain. Your vet will prescribe pain medications to be given in case your pet is in pain. If your pet is playing, eating well, and sleeping well, then it may not be feeling any pain. 

The risks of spaying and neutering 

Although spaying and neutering are very common procedures, there are still some small risks, especially since this procedure places your pet in general anesthesia. To reduce any risks, your pet should be evaluated before the procedure. A vet may require blood chemistry, urinalysis, and general physical examination done.

Some truths about spaying and neutering

Some pet owners don’t want to spay or neuter their pets because they believe that their pets can become fat. According to the ASPCA, this is not true. Any pet can become fat if the pet owner does not feed it correctly and give it enough exercise. 

Another misconception is that dogs may change behavior after the procedure. The ASPCA says that this is not true and that the procedure will not change your pet’s behavior at all.

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