Congratulations on welcoming a lovely female dog into your home. You’ll be thinking about what you can do to make her happy and healthy. Getting your dog spayed is one way to avoid some health and behavioural issues.
It is by no means obligatory to get your dog spayed. But it may be the best thing for her, and the PDSA recommends it. Anyway, it is important to know the facts before you make such an important decision about your dog’s life.
Getting a dog spayed: what is spaying?
Spaying is the way that a female dog is neutered. Your vet will put your dog under general anaesthetic and remove her uterus. This means that your dog won’t be able to have puppies. It also affects her natural cycles and reduces the chances of some illnesses.
It’s usually best to spay a female dog when she’s around six months old. Your dog’s vet can give you more specific advice on timing depending on your breed and individual.
The spaying operation takes around one hour, with a recovery time of around two weeks.
Getting a dog spayed: what are the advantages of neutering a dog?
Getting a dog neutered comes with several benefits for her and you. In the first place, it will prevent her from coming into ‘heat’ every six months or so. This is when an unspayed dog is in ‘season’ and is able to get pregnant. It can cause difficult behaviour both from her and from male dogs in the area, who sense she is looking for dog nookie and go crazy to get some!
And of course preventing these ‘seasons’ doesn’t just keep her temper more even and the lads at a distance. It means she won’t get pregnant. Unless you’re planning for her to breed, unwanted dog pregnancies is risky. And it can lead to expense and overpopulation. There are already plenty of dogs in rescue kennels who need a home!
But one of the most common reasons for spaying a dog is to reduce the chances of her developing certain types of cancer. It also prevents pyometra, a very serious womb infection that strikes some dogs.
Getting a dog spayed: are there any disadvantages to neutering a dog?
In general, the disadvantages of getting a female dog spayed are outnumbered by the advantages.
Spaying makes your dog more likely to be incontinent or overweight in old age. It can also have other impacts on her health and well-being, for example affecting the quality and quantity of her fur.
Whether or not the inability to have puppies is a disadvantage, is partly up to whether you’d like the opportunity for her to breed.
Some people believe that it is not fair to deprive an animal of their natural desire and ability to have sex and procreate. But pregnancy itself can be an uncomfortable and dangerous time for a domestic dog.
Getting a dog spayed: how to prepare
If you decide to have your dog spayed, you need to make sure she’s going to be as comfortable and safe as possible. This is one reason why it is helpful to wait until your dog is trained before you do it. That way you know she will be in control while she’s recovering.
You can also get her accustomed to travelling in the car and in a crate before the operation. This means that she is less likely to get nervous or upset as the big moment approaches. You should also stay calm and treat her with love, affection, and encouragement. Soothe her so that she is happy and comfortable.
At home, you should create a safe environment so that she doesn’t hurt herself while recovering. For example, block the staircase with a gate, and arrange cushions on the sofa to discourage her from jumping up.
Your dog might be required to stop at the vets overnight for observation. But if you bring her home after the operation, be aware that she will be drowsy and possibly anxious. Ask your kids to leave her alone, apart from making a very gentle fuss to calm to her. And keep a close eye that she is recovering well.
Getting a dog spayed is very normal and safe. If you decide to go ahead, your vet will give you specific advice on how to prepare your dog.