According to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, there are about seven million dogs in the UK. It’s estimated that around 100,000 dogs are taken in by rescues each year, and some 400 are put to sleep each week. These are unwanted dogs. However, not all of them are puppies. Many of the dogs found in rescue centres are turned in by owners who cannot keep them any longer. Getting the wrong dog for your lifestyle, or getting a dog on impulse often leads to a dog being turned in to a shelter.
If you are getting a puppy or if you have an intact older dog you may be considering having your dog spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering is a good way to make certain that your dog never produces any unwanted puppies. Most pets will benefit from spaying and neutering. There are some well-known benefits to these procedures:
1. Your dog will not be sexually active.
3. Female dogs will have a very low risk of pyometra, uterine, mammary, and ovarian cancers.
4. Male dogs are much less likely to urine mark in the home.
5. Male aggression is usually lessened.
6. Mounting behaviour usually stops.
On the other hand, having your dog spayed or neutered should never be undertaken lightly. These procedures are operations, and spaying is an ovario-hysterectomy which removes your dog’s uterus and ovaries. This is a serious operation. There are risks involved, even though they are relatively small. There are health benefits to keeping your dog intact which you should also consider before having your dog spayed or neutered:
According to the American College of Theriogenologists, these canine reproductive specialists cite the following health benefits of keeping your dogs intact:
1. There is a decreased incidence of hemangiosarcoma in intact dogs.
2. There is a decreased incidence of osteosarcoma in intact dogs.
3. There is a decreased risk of transitional cell carcinoma in intact dogs.
4. There is a decreased risk of prostatic adenocarcinoma in intact male dogs compared to gonadectomized male dogs.
5. There is a decreased incidence of obesity in intact dogs, which may be due at least partly to increased metabolic rate.
6. There is a decreased incidence of urinary incontinence in intact female dogs (equivocal if bitches are spayed after 5 months but before their first heat).
7. There may be a reduced incidence of urinary tract infection in intact female dogs.
8. There may be a reduced incidence of autoimmune thyroiditis and hypothyroidism in intact dogs.
9. There is a possibly reduced incidence in diabetes mellitus in intact male dogs.
10. There is a reduced incidence of cranial cruciate rupture in intact dogs.
11. There may be a reduced incidence of hip dysplasia in that are not gonadectomized before 5 months of age.
These health findings are important to consider. You should be particularly wary of spaying or neutering your dog early. Health risks are nearly always increased in dogs that are spayed at a young age. In the United States some dogs are being spayed and neutered as young as six to eight weeks old! This is not common in the UK but the RSPCA does follow this practice at some rescue centres.
Most vets in the UK recommend spaying and neutering dogs between 6 and 16 months old. It is usually best to wait until a dog’s growth plates have closed before spaying and neutering. The sexual hormones estrogen and testosterone play a role in helping your dog’s bones grow properly so dogs that are spayed and neutered at a young age may have health problems related to a lack of these hormones during their growth. Waiting until your dog is at least a year old cuts down on the risk of many possible health problems later in life, including many kinds of cancer.
Most pets do benefit from being spayed and neutered as long as they are past a year old when the procedure is done and they have achieved their adult growth.
You can keep your pet from putting on pounds following spaying or neutering by watching how much you feed your dog and making sure that s/he is still getting plenty of regular exercise.
You should always consider your dog’s overall health, breed, age, and other factors before opting for any surgery. Talk to your veterinarian and then decide. That’s the responsible thing to do.