When to Spay A Dog ? Benefits, Timing & Costs

The American Animal Hospital Association recommends spaying female puppies by 4 to 6 months of age. By this age, the sexual organs of a female puppy are mature enough to get pregnant during its first heat cycle.

What is Spaying?

Spaying or ovariohysterectomy is the removal of the uterus and ovaries in female animals through surgery to prevent reproduction. This procedure is called neutering or castration in males, and sterilization is a neutral term for both genders.  

Why Spay a Dog? Benefits of Spaying a Dog

Spaying prevents reproduction and avoids certain health risks that could be fatal, and improves the overall health and lifespan of the dog. Spaying is beneficial for dogs as it,

  • Avoids Breeding: Female dogs go into heat once or twice a dog, during which they might attract male dogs and start breeding. A dog’s pregnancy will require time, care, and attention from your side. Complicated deliveries might need surgical assistance and could cost more. The litter should be taken care of properly, and finding a good home is difficult. To avoid all these, spaying can be a responsible decision. Breeding should be done by professional breeders who have clear knowledge about the health conditions and family history of the dog they are breeding, which will result in a healthy puppy. 
  • Reduces Health Issues: Spaying helps in reducing certain health issues including, cancer, tumors, pyometra, and uterus infection, and increases the dog’s lifespan. Shelter Euthanasia, a fatal condition can be avoided by spaying. Being overweight in dogs because of spaying is a myth. Spaying won’t result in being overweight, but lack of exercise and overfeeding can lead to obesity. 
  • Prevents Undesired Behaviors: Spaying can reduce or prevent undesired behaviors in dogs like aggression, leg-lifting, mounting, and roaming. The effects vary from dog to dog and depend on the individual dog’s personality. The dog will not lose the learned behaviors or habitual behaviors.

When to Spay a Dog?

The American Animal Hospital Association recommends spaying puppies by 4 to 6 months of age. By this age, the sexual organs of a female puppy are mature enough to get pregnant during its first heat cycle. The first cycle is dogs can not be determined and can happen anytime between 6 to 12 months. Avoid spaying when the dog is on heat as the nerves and blood vessels will be weak. A dog can be spayed after its first cycle, but as there is a risk of breast cancer, it is suggested to spay a female puppy before its first cycle. Surgeries for sexually immature dogs are quick, easy, and less complicated. 

Can Older Dogs Get Spayed?

Yes, it is never late to spay a dog but other health issues and tolerance to anesthesia should be considered before spaying an older dog. Old dogs could risk breast cancer, so the veterinarian might run some blood tests and physical examinations to rule out possible health issues before spaying. The veterinarian or the breeder should determine the appropriate age for spaying according to the breed type.

Pre Spaying Care

An overall health check-up is necessary for both puppies and older dogs to ensure the dog’s health condition before surgery. It is recommended to take the previous health reports, prescriptions, and vaccination records to the vet before spaying. Follow the veterinarian’s instructions carefully to reduce any complications. Usually, the vet might recommend stopping any food intake 8 hours before the surgical process as anesthesia could cause nausea. 

Post Spaying Care

Some hospitals will keep the dog overnight for monitoring after the surgery, while others might discharge the dog on the day of surgery. The dog will be given pain medications to soothe any discomfort and a collar to avoid reaching the surgical area. The dog will heal in 7 to 10 days and the dog’s activities should be restricted. Avoid bathing the dog after surgery till it heals completely and check the surgical area regularly. The veterinarian will check the dog after 10 days to track the healing process and remove the stitches.

Immediately call a veterinarian if you notice any of the following

  • Discharge
  • Swelling 
  • Open incision
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Fever 
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Pain
  • Foul Smell

Cost of Spaying

The cost of spaying varies across countries and depends primarily on the hospitals and facilities. It might cost as high as $100, but some organizations offer spaying programs at lower costs. Consult a trusted veterinarian to spay your dog safely at a reasonable price.

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