April 26, 2022

To Spay Or Not To Spay, That Is The Question

Sterilisation is a surgical procedure in which a part of your pet's reproductive organ is removed to permanently stop it from reproducing. It is commonly performed on dogs, cats and rabbits.

For sterilization in male pets, both the testicles are surgically removed while in females, the ovaries and uterus are removed.

There are a multitude of pros and cons to sterilization, resulting in numerous heated debates that have lasted decades. 

In this article, we will try to be as impartial as possible and only give medical and scientifically proven reasons for each one. We will cover:

  1. The health benefits of spaying and neutering your dog 
  2. The importance of spaying and neutering to help control the dog population
  3. Spaying and neutering might increase the lifespan
  4. Why spay or neuter?
  5. The myths about spaying and neutering 
  6. Post-surgery care 
  7. How to deal with behavioral changes after surgery

Keep in mind, there are no wrong or right answers and nothing is absolute. 

However, “fixing” or sterilising an animal, can have a profound impact on their lives, both positive and negative. 

While this article is geared towards our canine companions, you might not be amiss to think that it is also applicable to our feline ones. 

We hope this article can provide more information for you to make a better decision in choosing to sterilise your pet or not.

Have a question about your pet? Talk to a vet

1. The health benefits of spaying and neutering your dog 

It is medically proven that spayed and neutered dogs are less likely to develop certain cancers. 

This includes ovarian and uterine cancers in female dogs and testicular cancer in male dogs. This is because when a dog goes through puberty, it produces certain hormones that can increase its risk of developing these types of tumors.

Testicular cancer is by far the most common type of cancer in male dogs. Testicular tumors are very aggressive and are known to metastasize quickly, which means that they can spread quickly throughout your dog's body.

Because of the role that testosterone has in stimulating the testicles to produce sperm, neutering your male dog is the best way to reduce its risk of developing this type of cancer.

Studies have shown that spayed female dogs are less likely to develop certain cancers too. The hormones that are produced when a female dog goes into heat also play a role in increasing her risk of developing ovarian and uterine cancer. 

Sterilising females will also prevent them from getting uterine infection (infection of the womb which causes pus to build up within the womb) which can be life-threatening when detected too late. 

2. The importance of spaying and neutering to help control the dog population

One of the most important things that people can do to help control the dog population is to have their pets spayed or neutered. 

Sterilisation helps prevent overpopulation. Shelters are constantly filled with homeless dogs because there are not enough homes for all of them. 

Spaying and neutering can help reduce the number of strays.

3. Spaying and neutering might increase the lifespan

Spaying and neutering dogs have been shown to increase their lifespan by up to three years. 

This is because it eliminates the risk of certain cancers and other health problems. 

Isn’t that just great news? More time with your furry buddy! 

4. Why would you spay or neuter your dog?

When considering whether or not to spay your dog, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of the procedure. 

The main con of spaying is the surgery itself. Spaying is a major surgery that requires general anaesthesia, and there is always some risk associated with any surgical procedure and anaesthesia. However with technology and the use of safer newer anaesthetic drugs, the risks of complication is minimized. Your pet can also have a pre-anaesthestic blood test before surgery to ensure that its liver and kidney functions are suitable for anaesthesia.

Another potential downside to spaying is that some dogs may become overweight after the surgery. This can be managed by adjusting the dog’s diet and ensuring that they get plenty of exercise.

In addition, many believe that male dogs lose their aggressive or guarding instinct once they are neutered but this may be more of a benefit instead

5. The myths about spaying and neutering 

It is a controversial topic and will always be. However, here are some common myths that we frequently hear about the consequences of sterilisation. 

MYTH: Spaying or neutering will make my dog fat and lazy.

FACT: Dogs that are spayed or neutered are just as active as those that are not. In fact, obesity is a much more common problem in unspayed female dogs and intact male dogs than it is in spayed or neutered dogs.

MYTH: Spaying or neutering will cause my dog to develop health problems.

FACT: The health benefits of spaying or neutering far outweigh the risks. Most health problems are caused by the in-breeding of dogs, not by spaying or neutering. 

MYTH: Neutering will take away my male dog’s manhood

FACT: It will remove the “stress” of having to find a female

6. Post-surgery care after sterilisation procedure

Your beloved pooch will need to be kept calm and resting for the first few days after surgery. It is recommended that you put an Elizabethan Collar or a ‘cone’ on him or her for a few weeks to prevent them from scratching or chewing the stitches out.

There is usually some swelling and bruising around the incision site, which may take a week or two to resolve. 

You will need to keep an eye on the incision site and if it starts to look red, weepy, or swollen, or if there is any discharge, call your vet immediately. 

Most dogs can return to regular activity within a week or two of surgery. Be sure to keep your dog inside and away from other dogs for the first three weeks after surgery, as there is a chance of infection at the site.

It may take a couple of weeks for your dog to get back to normal activity levels, but most dogs are back to normal within days. 

If spayed, your pooch may have a "lumpy" abdomen for a month or two, as the incision scars will be quite red and swollen. 

In most cases, this form of scar tissue is quite harmless and will flatten out as time goes by. 

However, you should monitor the appearance of this tissue and contact your veterinarian if it starts to increase in size or appear increasingly lumpy, as this may indicate that the surgery has not been fully successful.

Watch out for changes in behaviour and appetite. 

7. How to deal with behavioural changes after surgery

Don’t mistake post-surgery wonkiness with permanent change.

While there may be some initial behavioural changes after your dog is spayed or neutered, these usually aren't long-lasting. 

Most dogs adjust very well to the surgery and return to their normal behaviour fairly quickly. 

If you're concerned about any changes in your dog's behaviour after sterilisation, please consult your veterinarian. 

Have a question about your pet? Talk to a vet

Final Thoughts 

As with all key healthcare matters related to your dog, make sure you are thoroughly informed and comfortable with your decision. The best way to do so is to speak to your vet and ask all the questions that you have about spaying or neutering your dog.

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