If you have a dog that is going through puberty, you may have noticed some behavioural changes in your little buddy. Perhaps you've noticed that your pup has started becoming a little more confident, acting like they have forgotten all the training you spent hours on? This new behaviour may lead you to ask yourself if neutering or spaying your pet is the right decision?
Well, as a pet owner, you might feel like this is the most significant decision of your pet's life, but it is essential to understand both the positives and negatives surrounding this choice so that you can make an informed decision.
But before we get to all that, it's worth knowing what exactly neutering and spaying are!
Spaying is a medical procedure for female dogs, in which the reproductive organs, such as the ovaries and uterus, are removed to prevent unwanted pregnancies and potential health risks when they get older.
Neutering is a medical procedure for male dogs, in which the male reproductive parts, such as the testicles, are removed, so the dog is sterile and cannot have pups.
Although neutering and spaying your dog presents various benefits, such as the prevention of future health issues, your dog will still need to undergo surgery, which will require anaesthesia and some aftercare, and can be quite distressing.
Understanding the benefits and disadvantages of such a procedure will help you make the best decision for your dog, according to their lifestyle. Then, you still have reservations about the whole thing, consult your vet to get some guidance on the matter.
Reducing the possibility of unwanted pregnancies
If your dog tends to wander in the dog park, regularly meets up with other dogs, or attends a daycare facility, making sure they've been spayed is a great way to eliminate the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy.
Pyometra can be a life-threatening disease in older female dogs, which can develop if your female has not been spayed. Pyometra develops through hormonal changes in the cycle that causes the uterine walls to form a thick layer. This layer in the uterus is needed to sustain a pregnancy; however, over time, it can cause the lining to change permanently. The thicker tissue makes your dog more prone to infections which can be challenging to treat.
Both neutering and spaying your dog can increase their lifespan. Spaying your female dog prevents the development of both mammary cancer and uterine cancer. While neutering a male dog can prevent testicular or prostate cancer. Cancer in older dogs can be fatal, so it is vital to take appropriate precautions to prevent this from developing in future.
Alleviating the burden on shelters
Stray dogs have always been a massive issue around the world. Unwanted pregnancies are the most common cause of dogs being left on the streets and in overcrowded shelters. So, as mentioned above, spaying your dog can prevent shelters from becoming overcrowded. There is a lot that goes into breeding dogs, so this should be left to responsible breeders who know what they are doing.
Managing unwanted behaviour
During your dogs "puberty", you may notice that they are presenting various unwanted behaviours. Male dogs tend to wander, looking for a female, which can be dangerous if they stray near roads. You may also experience your dog mounting objects, people, or beds, to try and release their frustration.
Don't worry, your dog's personality won't change! But, after being spayed or neutered, you might experience a decrease in sex-driven behaviour, causing your pet to feel a lot calmer.
Contrary to popular belief, neutering or spaying your pet won't cause obesity; however, it does cause their metabolism to decrease. Managing your pet's weight from then on will come down to diet and exercise. Make sure your pet gets their daily exercise in, as well as giving them smaller feeding portions. If you're not sure what to do, ask your vet! Your vet will be the best person to guide you on your dog's new nutritional needs.
Spaying or neutering your dog too early can affect their development. Removing certain hormones in your dog's body will increase the time your dog's bones have to grow, making your pet taller over time. This can affect your pets joint and give them a higher chance of suffering from ligament tears, especially if they are from a breed that is prone to experience orthopaedic problems.
Developing a noise phobia
As the name implies, noise phobia is the excessive fear of loud sounds. Your dog might develop extreme fearful behaviour such as urinating, hiding, defecating, and more when they are subjected to loud noises.
The first 5-10 days after your pet returns home from their procedure are the most crucial to the healing process, and making sure you pay attention to the post-operative care can aid in a quicker recovery. Make sure to avoid things such as bathing, swimming, and too much walking. Your vet should give you the best advice on how to look after your pet to make sure they feel comfortable when they get home.
As a pet owner, there will come a time when you will face this decision. It's not an easy decision to make, but the important thing to remember is that there is no wrong or right answer! The various advantages to neutering or spaying your pet can potentially be life-saving and, although there are very few disadvantages, they can still be a cause for concern. Please consult with your vet on what they believe will be the best decision for your pet's lifestyle; they will be the best person to advise you on your choice, based on breed, age, lifestyle, and more.