Thinking Of Spaying Your Female Dog? (Pros & Cons of Spaying)

For the majority of dog owners who share their lives with a female dog, the topic of spaying is one the biggest decisions we'll make regarding their health. The decision to voluntarily put a healthy dog forward for surgery that can't be undone is a big one. The topic of spaying is also controversial with many different viewpoints on when to do it, should it be done at all and what are the short and long term health benefits of downsides of spaying a female dog?

In this guide we'll seek to answer the main questions about spaying. Such as:

  • Should you do it?
  • If yes, when should you?
  • What are the repercussions?
  • Are there any caveats?

Here are the main things you need to know about spaying a female dog.

Thinking Of Spaying Your Female Dog? (Pros & Cons of Spaying)

The Controversy Surrounding Spaying

There are obviously concerns regarding letting female dogs be without removing their internal reproductive organs.

From probable chances of various types of cancer, to getting unwanted pregnancies, there are quite too many factors to consider.

For instance, there have been reports of controlling the dog population in order to contain viruses like rabies.

Considering how dogs tend to become rather carnally active during their early reproductive years, it becomes somewhat of a safe measure to get your dog spayed.

Of course, there are downsides to consider too. Do you actually not want your dog to bear any offspring?

Do you think that, despite making plans to take care of your pet, it might become meandering to manage if their numbers increase? Fret not, those are fair reasons too.

Either way, here is a complete picture of what the pros and cons look like, and if you end up spaying your pet—when it should be appropriate.

Thinking Of Spaying Your Female Dog? (Pros & Cons of Spaying)

The Possible Upsides to Spaying

Obviously, there are many upsides to ensuring that your dog is spayed. Here are some of them.

Spaying removes the risk of pregnancy

Dr. Aileen Ruiz, a General practitioner and hospital owner of The Big Easy Animal Hospital: “Dog overpopulation is already a serious issue. The health of the mother can even be in jeopardy during delivery.”

“Some new mothers can have serious complications delivering puppies and can even develop health problems during nursing.”

Estrous cycle prevention or heat period reduction of heat

The study of Ryan Llera “Most dogs come into heat twice per year although the interval can vary between breeds and from dog to dog. Spaying your female dog will prevent periods of her being in heat.”

When a female dog is in heat, her genitals swell, and she lets out a scent that can be traced for up to a mile and attract unwanted attention from male canines.

Spaying makes a dog calmer

Dr. Sue Hankerd of Auburn Animal Hospital: “Without the drive to mate, your dog may be quieter and not prone to an incessant need to seek out a mate and they no longer attract males.”

“Spayed dogs are also easier to get along with. They tend to be more gentle and affectionate.”

Spaying makes a dog cleaner

Dogs won’t have a bloody discharge for several days while they are in heat. Without proper protective products, the discharge can stain sofas, bedding and carpets.

Spaying keeps your dog healthier

A study by A.K. Patnaik and P.G. Greenlee: Spayed dogs tend to have fewer health problems. Spaying is the removal of the ovaries and uterus. Without these organs, ovarian cysts, uterine infections and cancer of the reproductive tract are no longer a concern.

Further studies have shown that dogs spayed before puberty have a significantly lower chance of developing breast cancer than unspayed dogs or spayed later in life.

Spaying your dog is also highly cost-effective

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ASPCA, the first humane society to be established in North America: “The cost of your pet's spay surgery is far less than the cost of having and caring for a litter.”

Thinking Of Spaying Your Female Dog? (Pros & Cons of Spaying)

When caring for a pregnant dog, you should expect an increase in your vet bills and dog food and care supplies. There is also a small risk of death during birth or right after. Furthermore, any complications during the pregnancy period of your dog may also result in even more veterinary care bills and additional health risks for the newborn puppies. Though spaying your dog is cost effective, it would be best to get your pet insured. A pet insurance provides you with sufficient financial coverage in case your dog has any serious ailment. Thus, pet insurance helps you to avoid the financial burden during these times.

Spaying provides behavioural benefits

Research has also found that there are a number of behavioural benefits to spaying your dog. These include less vocalization, reduced aggression, reduced marking and less desire to roam away from home.

Amy Flowers, DVM of WebMD: “They are also less likely to engage in territory-marking behaviour such as spraying urine in your house.”

Spaying prevents deadly infections of the uterus

Emily Finn, DVM of The MSPCA–Angell: “One of the most common reproductive emergencies seen in a veterinary emergency room is a condition called pyometra.”

Thinking Of Spaying Your Female Dog? (Pros & Cons of Spaying)

Nearly 1 in 4 intact females will develop this infection. The uterus swells with toxic pus and the only cure is an emergency spay. The surgery is dangerous when a middle-aged or elderly dog is already sick from the infection. If left untreated, this disease may very well kill your pet.

Another obvious advantage of spaying a dog is that ovarian diseases and sexual steroid-dependent diseases, including metropathy, no longer occur as seen in the study conducted by Sebastian Arlt, Axel Wehrend and Iris M Reichler.

Spaying offers protection against mammary tumours

Dr. Ruth Colwill of Colwill Lab: “Spaying your dog before her first estrous cycle greatly reduces her chances of developing mammary tumours.”

Mammary tumour is the canine equivalent of breast cancer. Early spaying reduces levels of estrogen production, leading many veterinarians and scientists to cast estrogen in a negative light when it comes to mammary cancer.

Spaying prevents pseudo pregnancy in dogs

Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH of VCA Hospitals: "Signs of false pregnancy usually begin four to nine weeks after the previous heat period and mimic the signs of true pregnancy."

Thinking Of Spaying Your Female Dog? (Pros & Cons of Spaying)

False pregnancy, phantom pregnancy, pseudo-pregnancy or pseudocyesis are all terms that refer to a display of maternal behaviour combined with the physical signs of pregnancy following estrous in an unspayed dog that is not actually pregnant.

The Possible Downsides to Spaying

To be fair, there appears to be more downsides to spaying than aforementioned upsides. Fairly, you should be aware of what happens when your dog is neutered or spayed—including the following downsides.

Spaying means sterilization and fewer unwanted dogs

Spaying will result in the sterilization of your dog and she will no longer have the ability to become pregnant.

Thinking Of Spaying Your Female Dog? (Pros & Cons of Spaying)

Dr. Jon Callanan of Callanan Veterinary Group: “The overpopulation of unwanted animals leads to the destruction of over 13 million dogs and cats each year.”

Spaying may cause hypothyroidism and obesity

Ernest Ward, DVM, an award-winning practicing veterinarian and speaker: “Some pets may gain weight after spaying because your dog's endocrine system is affected. One of the more known side effects is the risk of hypothyroidism.”

Thinking Of Spaying Your Female Dog? (Pros & Cons of Spaying)

Low thyroid levels in a female canine will result in weight gain and obesity, which is difficult to fight even with an adequate diet.

Your dog may also become lethargic, tired, increased susceptibility and occurrence of skin and ear infections, high blood cholesterol, slow heart rate and start losing hair.

Spaying can increase the risk of other diseases

Dr. Benjamin L. Hart and team at the University of California: “It has been observed in the study that spaying your dog increases the risk of deadly canine cancers, including lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma.”

“Hemangiosarcoma disease, in particular, affects the dog's spleen and heart, which normally would've been protected by your female canine's reproductive organs.”

Michele Welton, a Dog Trainer and a Dog Breed Consultant: “Early spaying triples the risk of bone cancer, a deadly cancer that mostly occurs in large and giant dogs. It may also cause urinary incontinence in up to 20% of spayed females.”

If your dog is spayed before her bladder is fully developed, weak bladder muscles may start to leak in middle age.

Lynette Hart, professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine: “If done at the wrong age, spaying increases the risk of hip dysplasia and torn ligaments. Early spaying causes the leg bones to grow unevenly.”

The reproductive hormones help your dog's bones, joints, and internal organs to develop properly. If you remove those reproductive hormones too early, they don't have enough time to complete their valuable work.

Clinical team of VetnCare: “Early spaying can affect the size and shape of a female's ‘private parts.’”

“The vulva of a dog spayed early remains small and may even be recessed inside her body instead of protruding as it should. An abnormal vulva has folds of skin that can trap bacteria, leading to recurrent infections.”

The risks and its complications

Dr. Elizabeth Lynch, staff veterinarian at the MSPCA at Nevins Farm: “Older animals especially those with additional health issues, have a higher risk and are more likely to have complications.”

Veterinary team of Madison Animal Care Hospital: “Any surgery carries risks and although spaying is considered very safe, is no exception.”

Your vet will thoroughly assess the risk to your dog before approving this procedure for them. However, you should still be prepared for the risk of complications either during the procedure or during your dog’s recovery.

American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF): “The risks are not related to the surgery itself, but to pre-existing conditions that your pet may have. This is why we need to ensure that your pet is healthy before the surgery.”

“Complications may arise during the procedure, but that is also the case with any other type of surgery and it is relatively rare.”

The Right Time to Spay Your Dog

The simpler way to find this would be to ask your vet directly. While your vet will have the best interests of your dog in mind and provide you a list of pros and cons, they will also mention appropriate windows in which you can spay your dog.

You need to keep all the aforementioned cons of spaying before you decide on something concrete. Remember that while you can spay your dog as early as eight weeks in, there are obvious downsides and hormonal imbalances that might come forth.

Older dogs are more difficult to spay. You need to make valid and elaborate assessments of biochemical profiles and make valid recommendations on when it is okay to spay your dog.

Prepping for Surgery

Now that you have made your call to spay your dog, you need to do a fair bit of work before the surgery is done—starting from bloodwork.

Yes, you need to ensure that all blood work is placed intact and that all the measurable metrics are in the healthy range. Also, ensure to do valid profiling for things like jaundice or other diseases that might be a hindrance in the post-operative phase.

Additionally, your dog should be bereft of food 8-9 hours before the surgical procedure. This might be a tough thing to explain, but you will have to do what it takes.

Post-Surgery Expectations

Your homework is only partly complete. There are a multitude of post-op elements that you will have to deal with. Here is what the picture looks like.

  • Pain medications are usually provided on an SOS basis. Be sure before you provide it to your dog, and consult your vet beforehand.
  • Nausea is a pretty expected phenomenon post-op. Your dog might not want to eat anything for a couple of days, so bear with it.
  • Stitches shall be removed about a week and a half post-surgery. Ensure to revisit the clinic and take appointments as and when your vet deems fit.
  • You will have to monitor her so that she does not make contact with her stitches. If she gets all fidgety and starts licking the stitches, you will have to put her on the proverbial ‘cone of shame’.
  • Always monitor for any kind of abscess or leakage from the stitches. Ensure that your pet’s vitals are intact—body temperature, blood pressure, and so on.

Final Word On The Decision To Spay Your Female Dog

Whether or not you deem spaying as a solution is your call to make. We are sure that you have the best interest of your pet in mind—ergo, you will comprehend the pros and cons thoroughly before making this call. The aim of this guide to spaying your female dog is to provide you with a balanced overview of the pros and cons to this very common, but not to be taken lightly veterinary procedure.

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