When you adopted your dog, unless you planned to breed him or her, you were undoubtedly told to have him neutered or her spayed before the pup reaches sexual maturity. Having your dog ‘fixed’ removes his or her ability to procreate. Spaying and neutering are also advised as it provides additional health benefits other than not having unwanted pregnancies. The procedure is very common and safe, but it is important to take precautions as your pup heals. After surgery, you need to have your pet rest and heal for ten to fourteen days and limit physical activity. Among those limits includes not allowing her or him to jump after surgery because jumping could cause the sutures to open, which would cause additional health problems and complications.
The Root of the Behavior
A female dog is spayed and a male dog is neutered. In the spaying procedure, the reproductive organs that include the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes are removed. This removes her ability to reproduce and eliminates her monthly heat cycle. In neutering, the male dog’s testicles are removed, which also eliminates his ability to breed and in most dogs it often stops some breeding behaviors such as mounting and humping. Neutered males are also less likely to roam or spread their scent through spraying urine all over to mark territory. Both procedures require your dog to have a full physical exam to rule out any conditions that can cause complications during surgery such as heart murmurs, and some kidney and liver conditions.
Typically, dogs are spayed or neutered between the ages of six and nine months. Spay clinics can handle dogs as young as two months of age, and older dogs can be ‘fixed’ at later ages as well. Larger dogs tend to approach puberty a little later and thus can be ‘fixed’ later in development than their smaller peers. Dogs who live alone do not pose as much of a risk of breeding as dogs that live with other dogs so they can also wait a bit longer for the procedure. There are additional health benefits to spaying or neutering your pet. Female dogs that are spayed do not have to cycle through their heat cycles, which includes the weeks of discharge of blood. It also eliminates the chances of her developing serious health problems such as pyometra, a uterine infection that can be life-threatening, as well as mammary cancer. Male dogs that are neutered are less likely to develop testicular cancer or benign prostatic hypoplasia also known as enlarged prostate. Neutered males also tend to be less aggressive than their intact peers.
Encouraging the Behavior
When you spay or neuter your pet, there are several precautions you need to take prior to and after the surgery. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions to ensure a safe procedure and recovery for your dog. Make sure to get your dog an e-collar, also known as the "Cone Of Shame," which your vet can supply. An inflatable e-collar can often be a bit more comfortable for your pet. It inflates to look like a donut and can make it easier for your dog to drink, eat, and lay down while still blocking access to her incisions. This cone will keep your pet from licking her incisions while they heal. Set up a recovery area for your dog in a quiet area ideally located near the door, as she may need to go out a bit more often than usual. Some pet owners find using an X-Pen or dog crate to keep other pets or children out is helpful too. The recovery area should be free of raised beds or couches, as you do not want your pet tempted to jump up onto the furniture for a comfy place to lie.
Provide her with a bed, but also keep in mind that the first few days she may be nauseated from anesthesia and could vomit. She may also be so medicated that she could urinate or defecate in her area, so tile floors are best. Many people set up shop in the kitchen or a bathroom on the main level. A puppy pad over her bedding is also recommended. Your dog will be a bit unstable for the first few days as well, which is why you need to limit chances that she will jump onto furniture and fall. Do not bathe your pet as doing so could remove glue, if it was used, or even introduce bacteria into her wound. Try to not lift her, as that could open her stitches, and keep her calm for 10-14 days with slow walks and limited playtime. Do not let her jump after she is spayed as this could tear her stitches, open her wound, and expose her internal organs.
Other Solutions and Considerations
There are a couple of misconceptions about spaying and neutering which should not keep you from ‘fixing’ your pet. One common misconception is that your pet will get fat once his or her reproductive abilities have been removed. This has been studied and is not correct. As long as you are feeding her a healthy and appropriate diet, as well as allowing plenty of time and opportunities to exercise, she will maintain a healthy weight throughout her lifetime. A second misconception is that spaying or neutering will change your dog’s personality. This is also not true. While neutered males and some spayed females tend to wander and run away less, the dog’s general personality will not change at all.
It is important to spay or neuter your dog to avoid unwanted pregnancies but also to avoid some potentially life-threatening illnesses that are related to the respective reproductive systems. After spaying, it is important to keep him or her from jumping as your dog could fall and hurt him or herself as well as potentially tearing their stitches open. Keep your dog on a leash and as calm as possible for 10-14 days post surgery and keep him or her from licking the stitches with an e-collar. Spaying and neutering benefits you, your pet, and the community as a whole.
By a Black Lab lover Zoe Byer
Published: 03/22/2018, edited: 01/30/2020