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Spaying or castrating your dog (also called de-sexing or neutering) is very common practice in many places, and is considered a part of responsible dog ownership by many experts, assuming that you aren’t planning on breeding your dog.
Here is a short summary of what neutering is:
Spaying (for females) and castrating (for males) are surgical procedures that make your dog unable to reproduce. Usually this means the removal of the ovaries and uterus, or testicles. There are a few other alternatives (such as vasectomies for male dogs) but these are relatively rare. These procedures are always done under general anaesthetic and require a brief recovery period afterwards, when your dog will need special care. There are some side effects to neutering, which you will find below.
Things to consider when neutering your dog:
Neutering is a big decision, and most owners will need to weigh the pros and cons before deciding. Your vet can best advise you on what’s right for your dog and your lifestyle. For example, if your dog is frequently in the company of other dogs, runs free in a dog park, goes to doggie day care, etc. it may be best to neuter in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Benefits of neutering
Females: There are significant benefits to spaying female dogs, especially before their first or second heat (oestrus) cycle. Aside from eliminating the risk of surprise or unwanted pregnancies, spayed dogs have significantly lower mammary cancer rates and the complete removal of the uterus eliminates the risk of a potentially life-threatening infection called pyometra as well as uterine cancers.
Animal shelters are overcrowded, and puppies from unplanned litters are most likely to end up there. Given this, it seems best to leave breeding to responsible individuals who will make sure that the planned litter will have loving lifelong homes before they breed
Males: Male dogs benefit too! Age plays less of a factor with males, but castrated males are less likely to suffer from testicular or prostate diseases. Many intact male dogs show undesirable hormone-related behaviours such as inappropriate mounting, and roaming, which can be dangerous if they wander near roads or far from home in search of a female.
Changes after neutering
As you’ll find out from your vet, there are several changes that occur in a dog’s body once they are spayed or castrated. These changes may be more noticeable in males. Neutering won’t change your dog’s personality but it is likely to change sex hormone-driven behaviours. Many owners also report that their dogs are calmer after neutering.
Along with the above hormonal changes, changes in metabolism can also occur. A slower metabolism means that your dog can gain excess weight easily after neutering, making it important to pay special attention to his nutritional needs to ensure that he doesn’t become overweight. It is recommended that you switch to a neutered-specific dog food, such as Hill’s VetEssentials NeuteredDog.