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The Choice to Spay and Neuter Your Dog


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Veterinarians typically recommend that any dog that is not going to be part of a breeding program be spayed or neutered. For most dogs, the pros of surgical sterilization outweigh the cons, but that is not to say that there are no negative aspects to consider. Pet owners that educate themselves about these procedures are in the best position to make the correct decision for their individual pet.

"Dealing with pet overpopulation is vital, but most owners want to do what is best for their individual dog."


Pet Overpopulation

The most common argument that you will hear in support of spaying and neutering is pet overpopulation. This is no small problem. Millions of homeless dogs and cats are euthanized every year in animal shelters throughout North America.

Reducing the number of litters produced is the best way to deal with this problem. Unneutered male dogs and females in heat will do anything in their power to gain access to each other. You may think that you will be able to prevent an unwanted litter if you do not spay or neuter, but dogs have jumped through screened windows, climbed security fences and ripped leashes out of their owners' hands for the opportunity to meet a potential mate.

Making the Decision on a Case by Case Basis

Dealing with pet overpopulation is vital, but most owners want to do what is best for their individual dog. Here are some pros and cons of both spaying and neutering that owners should be aware of.

Spaying

Pros Cons
  • Eliminates messy heat cycles
  • Increased chance of urinary incontinence
  • Eliminates the risk of potentially fatal uterine infections (pyometra)
  • Possible decrease in life expectancy
  • Virtually eliminates the risk of breast cancer if surgery is performed before heat cycles begin
  • Increased incidence of cruciate ligament ruptures
  • Eliminates risks associated with the birthing process
  • Increased tendency towards weight gain
  • Reduced roaming and aggression
  • The possibility of surgical complications
  • In many locations, reduced pet license fees
  • Cannot enter some types of dog shows
  • Reduced sexual "frustration"

Neutering

Pros Cons
  • Eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of some other types of cancer
  • Increased chance of prostate cancer
  • Reduces the risk of some types of prostate disease (e.g., hyperplasia and infections)
  • Altered appearance to the scrotum, although implants are available
  • Reduced aggression, mounting, marking and roaming
  • Increased incidence of cruciate ligament ruptures
  • In many locations, reduced pet license fees
  • Increased tendency towards weight gain
  • Reduced sexual "frustration"
  • The possibility of surgical complications

  • Cannot enter some types of dog shows


So, like any medical decision, there are both pros and cons to spaying and neutering. But dog owners who understand the potential downsides are in a better position to deal with them.


The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of your pet. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners.