The Pros and Cons of Spaying a Dog

Congratulations on your new furry friend. Now it’s time to weigh up the pros and cons of spaying a dog, and whether or not it’s the right choice for you.

Do you have a female dog? Have you wondered, “should I spay my dog?” Many people have different opinions.

Keep reading this article to learn about the pros and cons of spaying a dog. This can help guide you in your decision-making process.

The Spaying Procedure Explained

The term, spaying, refers to the removal of the reproductive organs in a female dog. These organs include the ovaries and uterus. The medical term is an ovariohysterectomy.

This describes one of two approaches to achieving infertility. In some countries, a veterinarian removes the ovaries and leave the uterus. This is known as an ovariectomy. Experts continue to debate which procedure has greater benefits.

This surgery takes place with general anesthesia, so the dog doesn’t feel any pain. Post-surgical care first involves the recovery from anesthesia. This can take up to 24 hours and may mean she exhibits some abnormal behavior.

She may experience sleepiness and unsteadiness when walking. Assist her by walking slowly on a leash when outside. Provide help when getting in and out of the car and onto her bed.

Keep young children and other animals away from her to avoid injury. Watch her for any signs of problems associated with the anesthesia.

Make sure she’s warm and comfortable and can get water when she needs it. Offer her meals as usual, but don’t worry if she doesn’t eat much at first. Your veterinarian may also give you some medication to keep her calm for the first few days.

One of the most important things you need to do is protect the wound. Make sure that she doesn’t lick her incision. If the doctor gave you a collar, make sure she wears it.

Keep the wound clean and dry. Do not bathe her until her sutures or staples are removed or dissolved. Watch for redness, swelling, pus, or a bad smell which could mean an infection.

Pros and Cons of Spaying a Dog

There are many reasons why owners choose to spay their dog or not spay her. Following is a summary of the pros and cons of spaying.

Reasons to Spay Your dog

Proponents of spaying site euthanization of millions of unwanted dogs. Responsible owners not wishing to breed their dog should have them spayed.

Spaying can also decrease some behavioral problems. These issues can result from mating instincts. Removing the ovaries stops the heat cycle which helps with these behavior issues.

Having your dog spayed won’t impact their intelligence or their ability to play, learn, or hunt. A spayed dog may even have a more pleasant demeanor. Spaying also protects your dog from serious health problems.

Decreased Risk of Infection and Cancer

When the female dog is spayed at an early age, she can have a decreased chance of serious illness later in life. The problems may include infections in the uterus and breast cancer.

Risk of Pyometra in Unspayed Dogs

The condition called pyometra in dogs refers to a bacterial infection that develops in the uterus. The lining of the uterus thickens. Bacteria enter the uterine walls and generate pus.

The bacteria move into the abdomen and bloodstream. This can cause the dog to develop shock. If she isn’t treated fast enough, she can die.

This infection occurs rapidly. It’s most commonly seen in older dogs who did not have their uterus removed.

With each heat cycle, the uterus prepares for pregnancy by increasing the wall thickness. After several cycles without a pregnancy, the following events may occur.

  • Fluid-filled sacs, called cysts, form in the uterine wall creating a rich environment for bacterial growth
  • Bacteria move from the vagina into the uterus
  • The thickened walls decrease the muscle’s ability to push out fluids and bacteria

White blood cells can’t enter the uterus during the heat cycle. Thus, they can’t fight any bacteria that may be present. This increases the risk of infection.

The Nuisance of the Heat Cycle

The heat cycle is often messy and embarrassing. Her genitals swell and she has a bloody discharge. Dogs often lick their genitals an excessive amount during this time.

You must keep her confined to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Males can smell her heat for miles. Thus, you must not leave her unattended in the yard and you may not wish to walk her.

Your dog’s heat may also interrupt your vacation or other social plans. You won’t want to leave your dog with a friend while she’s in heat. Leaving her at a pet sitter or kennel puts her at risk for pregnancy.

Reasons to Not Spay Your Dog

If you wish to breed your dog, then you will want to wait before deciding to spay her. If you choose to spay her when she’s considered old, it’s safer to do the ovariohysterectomy.

Spayed dogs may have problems with weight gain and urinary incontinence. This means that she has trouble holding her urine.

Dogs have a higher risk of post-surgical bleeding when their uterus is removed. This complication rarely occurs. This supports the argument for only removing the ovaries.

After removal of the ovaries, the uterus begins to atrophy or shrink. Over time, she will effectively not have a uterus. This eliminates the risk of pyometra and uterine tumors.

It’s important to note that ovariectomies are only recommended for young dogs who have a healthy uterus.

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