Deciding whether or not to spay your dog can be agonizing for owners. Many pet owners struggle with whether they should leave their animal as nature intended or help to control the ever-growing dog population by taking the necessary precautions.
It is, after all, estimated that between 6 to 8 million pets are surrendered to animal shelters each year.
Here we look at the scientific evidence that can help us make head or tail of this choice.
What Is the Difference Between Spaying and Neutering?
As a starting point, it is often helpful to have a firm grasp on the terminology. Neutering is the sterilization of male dogs and involves the removal of their testicles. Spaying on the other hand refers to the sterilization of female dogs and involves the removal of their ovaries and uterus. Both spaying and neutering are surgical procedures which should only be done by qualified vets such as those at heartandpaw.com.
Pros of Spaying Your Female Dog
- Your dog will no longer experience ‘seasons’ or ‘heat’. When female dogs come in heat, they release a scent that can be detected by male dogs over a mile away. This in turn can attract a lot of unwanted attention from dogs. There is also a greater chance of your female dog wandering off and getting lost while searching for a mate. The other consideration is the bloody discharge that is released during each season. This can make a mess of your home and furnishings.
- Spaying your female dog will prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring. Any pregnancies can put a financial burden on owners and be a time-consuming exercise. Female dogs will require regular visits to the vet and there is a small risk of death during or after the birth of the puppies. Also, it is worth considering that with the already out of control population of dogs already in shelters, it may not be as easy to find homes for any puppies produced as you might think. Puppies will need to stay with their mother until they are at least eight weeks old, putting even more strain on your time and finances.
- Spaying your dog can help to reduce or eliminate certain diseases such as uterus, ovarian, or reproductive tract cancer. It is also estimated that one in four unspayed female dogs will develop a uterine infection at some point and spaying can in fact protect your dog from this sometimes-fatal disease. It is also worth considering the emotional and physical stress that phantom pregnancies can have on an unspayed female.
Cons of Spaying Your Female Dog
- Hyperthyroidism is when low thyroid levels lead to weight gain and obesity and this is a known side effect of spaying.
- There is an increased risk of deadly cancers such as lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma in spayed females. If spayed too early, dogs can also run the risk of developing uneven bone growth, bone cancer, and urinary incontinence.
- There can be complications relating to the use of anesthesia, or after surgery complications such as infection although these are seldom fatal and can often be treated.