Most pet parents come to realize that life with a dog isn’t all pretending to throw tennis balls and belly scratches. OK, there is a lot of that, but there are also some decisions that require careful thought and deliberation. Arguably the biggest and most common is whether and when to get your dog spayed or neutered.
Why is spaying or neutering important?
First things first: the decision whether or not to get your dog spayed or neutered, unless medically necessary, is yours. That said, the general consensus is that it is very much a good thing under most circumstances.
At the top of the ‘pro’ column is population control. The world’s a better place with dogs in it, but they all deserve the same amount of love and care. Sadly, there aren’t enough happy homes for that to happen as it is, so if every dog popped out a litter or three, the number of unhappy, homeless and, sorry to say it, needlessly euthanized pups would be even greater.
Spaying or neutering can also bring a range of long-term health and behavioral benefits for dogs. In females, there’s no chance of complications during birth or unsettling phantom pregnancies, and spaying drastically lowers the risk of mammary tumors. When it comes to males, you remove the risk of testicular tumors and make nasty prostate-related problems less likely.
You also have peace of mind that you can worry less about frisky French Bulldogs eying up your pride and joy, or your lovestruck lad running 20 blocks because he smells a female on heat.
There is conflicting evidence around how neutering affects behavior, with some pointing to a reduction in aggressive or territorial behavior, but some suggesting that doing this pre-puberty can lead to more aggression towards other dogs and strangers. Always chat with your vet – they’re the experts.
When should I get my dog spayed or neutered?
It’s only natural to worry about putting a loved one under the knife, but it’s one of the most common procedures that vets carry out – and as already mentioned, it might mean you see them less in the future.
So once you’ve decided to go ahead, the next thing to think about is when to get your dog spayed or neutered. This isn’t an exact science and depends on a couple of things.
Size is one of them. Vets typically recommend that medium or smaller dogs are at least six months of age, but waiting until larger breeds are slightly older. Other considerations include whether a female should finish her first season or, as mentioned, if a male should undergo puberty to learn some behaviors that are testosterone-driven – but your vet will be able to advise on these factors.
What if I’m looking to breed?
Obviously, if you’re thinking about breeding your dog, you won’t be worrying about which pet insurance covers spaying – at least not for a while.
It’s widely advised that you don’t breed unless you’re an experienced professional, but if you’re seriously considering bringing new puppies into the world, there’s a long list of other things to consider – it’s not just finding a suitable mate, dimming the lights and hoping for romance.
Is your pet in a healthy enough state for pregnancy? What are the parents’ temperaments? Can you be sure that your dog won’t be passing on any congenital conditions? Would you be able to guarantee a good home for each puppy, even if the litter was inordinately large? Do you have the time, space and resources to rear young animals until they’re strong enough to stand on their own four paws? Do you have the financial resources?
If you do push ahead – or if your dog becomes pregnant accidentally – it’s imperative that you seek the advice of your veterinarian and speak to people who know what they’re doing. Otherwise your dog and her puppies could be at risk.
Should I get my dog spayed or neutered?
The decision to spay or neuter your dog is ultimately up to you, but it’s generally considered to be the responsible and humane choice unless you’re a professional breeder. The fact that spaying is reimbursed through Wellness Rewards means that Paw Protect has your back whatever you choose to do.