Why You Should Spay Or Neuter Your Dog
November 03, 2022 | 3 min read
Updated November 03, 2022
By Sarah Milton
Published: November 3, 2022
Updated: May 11, 2023
Summary: In this blog, we learn about the benefits of spaying or neutering your dog. We learn about what this minor surgery entails, how it can benefit your dog’s long-term health and wellbeing, and how much spaying and neutering procedures typically cost…
Did you know if you’re not planning on breeding your dog, spaying or neutering can come with a host of benefits? Here at PetLab Co., we thought we’d weigh up the pros and cons of making the choice to spay or neuter your dog…
Spay Vs Neuter Dog - What’s The Difference?
These terms are used to refer to the surgical procedures undertaken by veterinarians on dogs to sterilize them and prevent them from impregnating another dog or becoming pregnant themselves. You spay female dogs, and you neuter males.
When a vet spays a female dog, they perform a small surgery to remove their uterus and ovaries. When a vet neuters a male dog, they castrate them - or in layman's terms - they remove their testicles. These procedures are conducted whilst your dog is unconscious and under anesthetic. Your vet will make sure they are fit enough to be administered anesthetic before performing any surgery that requires this.
It typically takes a dog longer to recover from spay surgery than from neutering, but the recovery time will vary from dog to dog, just as any surgical procedure recovery can vary human-to-human.
What Are The Pros?
When it comes to neutering or spaying your dog, there are arguably a host of benefits:
It can increase a dog’s life expectancy; dogs who are spayed or neutered typically live up to 3 years longer than dogs who aren’t.
It can free up your choices; some doggy daycares and dog parks require dogs to be spayed or neutered. This is because unneutered males can become aggressive, and non-spayed female dogs can become pregnant. Male dogs also “mark” (spray urine) to claim territory, and female dogs bleed when they’re “in season” or “on heat” so both can create excess mess.
It can calm your dog down and protect them; As well as reducing their instinct to mark, male dogs can also display aggression more frequently if they aren’t neutered. Both male and female dogs that aren’t “done” can engage in roaming - where they actively, and in some cases, desperately look for a mate which can cause them to attempt to escape from your home or yard and potentially hurt themselves in the process.
It can reduce the risk of disease; neutering a male dog can reduce their risk of prostate and testicular cancer. Spaying a female dog can drastically reduce her risk of mammary gland tumors (or doggy breast cancer), ovarian and uterine cancers, and infections. This is especially effective if this surgery is carried out before her first heat cycle.
It costs less in the long run; having a litter of puppies can be expensive and preventable diseases and conditions that spaying and neutering can help reduce the risk of can prove to be costly to medicate, treat and manage.
Stops unplanned litters being surrendered to shelters; there are already hundreds of thousands of dogs in shelters and rescues looking for homes across the US and often that’s exactly where unwanted pregnancies and litters end up. Puppies and dogs can be euthanized if the shelters can’t find them homes as they can’t afford to keep them, so this helps ensure those numbers don’t unnecessarily rise if your intention is not to breed your pup.
What Are The Cons?
As with everything in life, there are also some arguable cons to consider when deciding whether to spay or neuter your dog:
They can no longer breed; these procedures are irreversible so you should be sure you don’t want to breed your dog.
They can’t compete in official dog shows; your pup won’t be able to compete in formal competitions where dogs are judged on the breed standards.
Joint issues may occur if carried out too early; it’s advised to wait for your pup to mature and be at least a year old before spaying or neutering them. A study conducted by the University of California found that mixed-breed dogs weighing more than 44 pounds as adults are at higher risk for one or more joint disorders if neutered before 1 year of age. This may mean, for female dogs, that if you decide to wait a year, you may have to care for them for the duration of at least one season or heat cycle, which is, essentially, a dog’s version of a period. A heat cycle will cause a temporary change in their behavior, may cause her to try and escape the home to find a mate and she will excrete blood. She will also need to be kept away from male dogs who will be able to smell her.
Your dog will not become overweight; Some think that spaying or neutering a dog can lead to obesity. This is not true. Not exercising your dog appropriately for their size or breed and feeding them too much will cause them to become overweight or obese, not neutering or spaying them.
There’s no guarantee neutering/spaying a dog will lead to good behavior; Neutering and spaying dogs can certainly help calm a dog down, but good care and training is the only way to ensure your dog’s behavior. The reduction in hormones cannot eliminate behavior that is habitual or that they have learned.
Deciding To Spay Or Neuter
If you’re not going to breed your dog, it’s advisable to spay or neuter them as the benefits are generally considered to outweigh the cons.
However, if you’re wondering how much it costs to spay/neuter a dog, this can vary. If you go to your regular veterinarian, it can cost up to $400 but there are many low-cost clinics across the country that will perform the procedure for as little as $35, as the need to keep control over the population of dogs in the country is so important. Inquire with your local animal shelter or the SPCA for specific information about accessing a service like this.
Any concerns about the spaying or neutering process or questions around when the optimal time for your dog to have it done is, consult with your veterinarian.
Author Taffer, Marissa “Should I Spay Or Neuter My Dog? Things To Consider” Dog Eared, by Ollie, Dec 21. 2021 https://blog.myollie.com/spaying-neutering-considerations/
Authors Hart, Benjamin L. and Hart, Lynette A. and Thigpen, Abigail P. and Willets, Neil H. “Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for Mixed Breed Dogs of Five Weight Categories: Associated Joint Disorders and Cancers” Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Jul 31. 2020 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.00472/full
“Spay/Neuter Your Pet” ASPCA https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/spayneuter-your-pet
Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!