Despite the obvious and much-documented benefits that come from the spaying and neutering America’s dog population, there are those pet owners who still harbor some reservations about the whole process. Is the necessary surgery risky? Will the dog become lethargic and fat as a result? Will the dog be depressed? A little research into the procedures and effects of spaying or neutering will allay the fears of most dog owners and some may even be pleasantly surprised to find that their dog will actually benefit from the procedure for years to come.
What is Spaying and Neutering?
The terms “spaying” and “neutering” are used to describe those medical procedures performed on a dog in order to render it unable to reproduce. “Spaying” is used in reference to female dogs, while “neutering” is used when referring to a male.
When a female dog is spayed, the uterus and ovaries are removed. This prevents the dog from going into heat. When a male dog is neutered, the testicles are removed. Both procedures are done by veterinarian in a surgical environment. If there are no complications, then the dog can usually go home on the same day that the procedure is done.
The Community-Related Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Dog
The overpopulation of unwanted, domestic animals has become a huge problem in America. Animal shelters are overflowing with pets for which there are no homes and packs of homeless dogs can pose a health and safety hazard to the general public. Each year, over 4 million unwanted dogs and cats have to be euthanized (killed in a human manner) and that number is steadily growing. These unwanted animals don’t just materialize from out of nowhere, however. They are the products of pets that were never taken in to be spayed or neutered by their owners.
For some dog owners, not having their pet spayed or neutered is simply a matter of laziness. They keep meaning to take their pet in, but time slips away; and, before they know it, their male dog has impregnated the dog next door or their female dog is expecting a litter of puppies. For other dog owners, the reasons for not having a dog fixed may be financial. Any surgical procedure, even for a pet, can be expensive. There are, however, low-cost spaying and neutering programs available. Check with your local humane society for information on qualifying for and utilizing them.
The Health and Behavioral Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Dog
Any risks associated with the surgical spaying and neutering procedures are far outweighed by the long-term health and behavioral benefits. In female dogs, the most obvious benefit is that there will be no litters of puppies and none of the health risks associated with that process. If your dog is spayed before she ever goes into heat, then the risk of her ever developing mammary tumors (malignant or benign) is almost completely erased. Furthermore, her risk of developing any reproductive organ cancers and infections (uterine and ovarian cancers or uterine infections) is obviously reduced significantly as well. If you wait until after her first heat cycle to have her spayed, then her chances of developing some of these conditions is almost doubled.
Without the mood swings, yelping and howling that a heat cycle brings on, your female dog will experience less stress. You’ll also experience less stress by not having to deal with blood-stained carpet, bedding or furniture.
Your male dog will also enjoy many health benefits if you have him neutered. As with the female dog, if the neutering procedure is done early (before 6 months of age) the chances that your dog will develop reproductive-related cancer (i.e. penile cancer) or disease is just about cut in half. The danger of your dog getting struck by a car while in pursuit of a breeding partner is also eliminated.
Early neutering can also help control or altogether eliminate certain behavior in the male dog. Behaviors such as spraying, marking and the desire to run away are very much linked to a dog’s hormones. Without such hormone production, your dog is less likely to develop these behaviors. Neutering your male dog could also render him easier to handle in social situations where other dogs are present. He will be less likely to show aggression toward other male dogs and will not be compelled to try and breed with an available female, even if she is in heat.