Why neuter your dog? There are all sorts of practical reasons, quite apart from the fact that it usually calms male dogs right down and turns them into much nicer people to be with!
8 sensible reasons for neutering your female dog
- you’ll avoid unwanted puppies, which is a good thing since there are thousands and thousands of dogs already in desperate need of a loving home
- female dogs, when spayed, have less risk of mammary cancer, AKA breast cancer.The effect is more powerful if you get your female pooch neutered before their first heat cycle, but if not it isn’t too late – late spaying also has a beneficial effect
- Spaying helps prevent Pyometra bacteria getting a grip, a nasty thing that can infect a female dog’s womb, usually in older dogs
- Neutering a dog stops the risk of ovarian and uterine tumours in female dogs completely, to which some breeds are particularly vulnerable
- Being pregnant has its own risks, usually because of injuries, stress and disease
- Spaying doesn’t affect a dog’s working abilities but it does affect some of the less desirable behaviours they display when on heat. They roam less, for a start, which means they’re at less risk of getting lost… and you won’t need to shut them up somewhere safe until the in-heat period is over
- Female dogs pee all the time when they’re in heat, which stops when they’re spayed
- Female dogs can get irritable when on heat, just like humans (!), and can also become more aggressive – both traits it’s good to prevent if at all possible
When spaying your female dog won’t make any difference…
There are a lot of myths surrounding neutering. Here are some of the areas where it won’t make any difference.
- It’s much better to spay your dog before they have their first heat than wait until afterwards
- Having a litter of puppies doesn’t actually calm a dog down, that’s just an old wives’ tale
- Spaying doesn’t result in better behaviour – it isn’t a quick fix
The down side of spaying a female pooch
Neutering a dog is beneficial in all sorts of ways. But there a few potential down-sides:
- Occasionally the decrease in female hormones can make a dog more aggressive, not less
- Urinary tract infections can become more common
- 5-20% of spayed females suffer some incontinence
- If you spay your dog too early they can grow taller than average, and can also develop hypothyroidism
- There’s sometimes an increased risk of weight gain, which can be sorted out with extra exercise and a special diet
What about spaying a male dog?
Male dogs also benefit from neutering, and ideally it should take place when they’re eight weeks old.
Spayed male dogs are less likely to get testicular and prostate gland diseases. Male dogs tend to be friendlier and calmer when neutered. He’ll pee less frequently to mark his territory. It can help with aggression, eliminate roaming and stop him humping your leg – and other people’s legs, which is always embarrassing! It can reduce the size of the prostate gland in older boys, which is always a good thing. And he may grow bigger than average after being spayed – whether or not that’s a good thing is down to the owner!
Finally, if your dogs testicles don’t descend, neutering is more important than ever because it helps prevent testicular cancer, something that’s a lot more of a risk for undescended boys.
As a general rule, male or female, it’s best to consult your vet about the best time for spaying your dog.