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Spaying & Neutering Dogs 101

Are you curious about what's involved in spaying or neutering your dog? When should you have it done? What risks are involved in the procedure? In this post, our Modesto vets help you understand the facts around these surgical procedures.

Also known as having your dog "fixed", a spaying or neutering procedure is an elective veterinary surgery that entails sterilizing an animal. 

About 6.5 million animals go to shelters or rescue systems annually across the United States, according to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Of those animals, less than 50 percent are adopted as pets. 

Having your pet spayed or neutered is one of the best ways you can contribute to reducing the number of unplanned puppies born each year and help to lighten the load on rescues and shelters. 

What are the differences between spaying and neutering?

Spaying Female Dogs 

When we spay a female dog, we remove her reproductive organs, either via an ovariectomy (removing the ovaries) or an ovariohysterectomy (the removal of the uterus and ovaries). After a dog is spayed, she will no longer enter heat and will not be able to birth puppies.

Neutering Male Dogs

Often referred to as castration, neutering involves removing both testicles from your male dog, in addition to their related internal structures. Your dog won't be able to reproduce after this procedure. 

Alternative options such as vasectomies can be considered for male dogs. However, they aren't usually performed.  

When should you have your dog spayed or neutered? 

You'll need to consider a handful of factors when considering when to have your dog spayed or neutered. Both procedures can be performed on puppies as young as a couple months old. Usually, puppies are fixed by the time they reach 4 to 6 months of age. 

The timing of your dog's spay or neuter procedure will depend on a range of aspects of their health and development. Because larger dogs mature slower than small or medium-sized ones, they should be fixed later. Many vets recommend females be spayed before they enter their first heat cycle. If you've adopted male and female puppies that are about the same age, have them spayed and neutered before the female's first heat. 

Always consult your vet about the timing of your pooch's spay or neuter. Before conducting the procedure, they will perform a full physical exam and review your dog's medical history to minimize the risk of complications. 

Sometimes, veterinary surgical specialists perform spay and neuter surgeries. If this is deemed necessary by your vet, we'll notify you and specify next steps. 

What are the benefits of spaying or neutering my dog?

On top of eliminating the risk of an unwanted litter of puppies, there are a wide range of benefits to consider when neutering or spaying your dog. 

Spaying your female dog will drastically reduce their risk of developing mammary cancer and pyometra, two potentially life-threatening conditions. And while it is not always the case, generally being spayed will put a stop to your female pup's instinctive breeding behaviors.

Neutering male dogs will help to prevent testicular cancer as well as cutting back on a number of undesirable behaviors. These include aggression, humping, howling and roaming. All of this can help to prevent unfortunate events such as fights with other dogs or being struck by a vehicle.

Depending on a number of factors, we may recommend you take your dog to one of the veterinary surgeons near  Modesto for this procedure. If required we can refer you and coordinate your pet's care with the surgeon.

What are the risks of spaying or neutering my dog?

While these surgeries and quite common and safe, they still should be performed by an experienced and qualified vet, as there is some small risk involved. But this is the case with any vet surgery which requires general anesthesia. Your vet or vet surgeon can assess your pet's risk and do pre-anesthetic blood work to determine whether anesthesia is safe for them. 

What does the recovery process look like?

Your vet or veterinary surgeon will recommend specific pain management and post-operative care for you to provide your pup after surgery, but here are some general rules to keep in mind while your dog recovers.

  • Refrain from bathing your dog for at least 10 days following surgery.
  • For up to two weeks after the procedure, prevent your dog from running, jumping, or undertaking other strenuous activities.
  • Check your dog’s incision daily to ensure it’s healing correctly. Contact your vet if you notice swelling, redness, or discharge.
  • Keep your dog inside and away from other animals as they heal.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact our Modesto vets if you need to schedule your dog to be spayed or neutered. Our team at American Pet Hospital is here to address your questions and safely perform veterinary procedures.

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