Spaying and neutering is when an animal is surgically altered so they cannot reproduce. When a female dog is spayed, the veterinarian removes her reproductive organs, and when a male dog is neutered, the veterinarian removes his testicles.
About 75% of dogs in North America are spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering prevents unwanted litters and helps to significantly decrease the dog's susceptibility to several health problems and diseases. Spaying and neutering dogs often helps to decrease behavioural problems. However, there are also a few potential problems that can occur with spaying and neutering, and although it is still advisable for owners to spay or neuter their dogs, they should be aware of the potential risks.
Female dogs that are spayed do not go into heat; not going into heat means no spotting of blood, no disturbing of other dogs in the neighbourhood, no running off in search of a mate, no erratic mood changes and no unwanted pregnancies. Spaying reducing the risk of the dog getting breast cancer and eliminates the chance of uterine or ovarian cancer. Spaying female dogs helps to decrease aggression and dominance problems. Females are best spayed before their first heat. However, female dogs that have been spayed have an increased risk of thyroid disease, some cancers, bladder incontinence and joint problems.
Neutering male dogs eliminates the chance of testicular cancer and reducing the risk of prostate problems. Dogs that are neutered have less aggression and dominance issues, and are less apt to get in dogfights. They are also less apt to roam or be enticed to escape the backyard if there is a female in heat near by. Neutered dogs are usually not as territorial and dominant and it is uncommon for them to mark their territory inside. However, to help stop behavioural issues like aggression and dominance, dogs need to be neutered before a year old, neutering later in life often does not to help with behavioural issues, especially after their third year. Male dogs that are neutered early are usually easier to house train. However, there are some drawbacks to neutering. Dogs neutered before they reach maturity tend to have flatter chests, longer legs and narrower skulls; this can cause extra stress on their joints, especially active dogs.
Spaying and neutering does not make them overweight, nor does it affect their protectiveness or guarding ability in any way. Dogs that are spayed or neutered usually get along better with other dogs than dogs that are not spayed or neutered. It is highly recommended that homes with multiple dogs, especially dogs of the same sex, have the dogs fixed to avoid potential fights.
Spaying and neutering can be rather expensive. Spaying cost more than neutering as it is a more time-consuming procedure and older dogs often cost more to have done than younger ones. Some veterinarians now use laser surgery to do the procedure. Laser surgery decreases the length of the procedure, lowers the risk of infection and usually causes the dog less post-operation pain than traditional surgery. However, laser surgery tends to be more expensive than tradition surgery and in some cases lengthens the time of tissue healing.
Spaying and neutering does have some risks, but they are small compared to the advantages. Dogs that have been fixed, particularly before they reach a year old, tend to make far better pets and have less aggression problems. Dogs that are neutered or spayed deal with less frustration and distractions, usually train easier and easier to handle. Generally, dogs that are spayed or neutered deal with less health problems. The expensive of spaying or neutering is well worth the benefits.