What is dog spaying and neutering?

When we talk about dog spaying and neutering, we are referring to the removal of the sex organs in a dog. We typically use 'neutering' for males and 'spaying' for females. However, in some countries, like in Europe, 'neutering' is used interchangeably for the surgical sterilization procedure for both males and females.

Dr. Glen Hudson
Highland Park Animal Hospital

What are the benefits of spaying and neutering dogs?

There are several conditions that can be improved by spaying or neutering your dog. For males, we can often enhance some marking characteristics. Some behavioral issues, often driven by testosterone, may also be alleviated. There's also a significantly higher incidence of prosthetic disease, which can lead to prostate infections, a medical emergency that often necessitates emergency surgery. In females, the most common issues include unwanted heat cycles, breeding, and male dogs becoming overly interested in the female. There's also a significantly higher incidence of mammary cancer in female dogs that haven't been spayed and an emergency condition called pyometra, an infected uterus. These can be prevented by spaying the female dog.

What to know before spaying or neutering your dog?

Before spaying or neutering your dog, your veterinarian will need to know about any previous health issues and the age of the dog. The age is particularly important for timing the procedure. Generally, we want dogs to be at least six months old, but for larger breeds, we recommend waiting until they're one to one and a half years old. Any behavioral concerns potentially related to hormones should also be discussed during this visit.

What is the recovery period after spaying or neutering?

Recovery from a neutering procedure for a male dog usually takes about seven days, with the first five days being the most critical. During this time, the dog should avoid vigorous activities. For female dogs, the recovery period is slightly longer, typically seven to ten days, due to the invasive nature of the procedure.

What is the at-home care after spaying or neutering?

At-home care after the surgery is minimal but important. The primary task is to keep the dog calm. We often provide medications to help with this, especially for female dogs, as increased activity post-surgery can lead to a hernia at the surgical site, requiring another surgery. Additionally, it's essential to keep the dog comfortable, avoid baths or swimming until fully healed, and keep the surgical area clean.

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