Virginia Simpson and Chance


























Spaying or Neutering Your Dog

by Elizabeth Gigis, DVM, West Chester Veterinary Center




Surgical sterilization is a loving choice for your dog if you decide not to breed.   Many people think of sterilization for the purpose of only preventing pregnancy, but surgery can prevent a number of common medical problems in male and female dogs.  Spaying a female dog or neutering a male also will prevent a number of behavioral problems.  Male dogs that are neutered around 6 months (the recommended age) are less likely to exhibit marking behavior, aggression, and wander away from home.   Male and female dogs will still be playful, social, and interactive with their owners after a sterilization procedure.  Female dogs will generally not have any change in behavior, as the reproductive tract of a female is actually dormant for most of the year.   

Female dogs that are not going to be bred should be spayed before the first heat.  The first heat of a female dog happens at about 6 months.  Female dogs should not be spayed while in heat, as this greatly increases the risk of bleeding during surgery.   Spaying markedly decreases the incidence of mammary (breast) cancer in female dogs.  A female dog that goes through only 2 heat cycles has a 25% chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime.  For a female that is spayed before the first heat, the chance of developing breast cancer later in life is almost zero.  Female dogs also have about a 30% chance of developing a severe and life-threatening uterine infection, called a pyometra, if not spayed.   A pyometra requires an emergency surgery, can be very expensive, and is possibly life-threatening.   In male dogs that are not neutered, the prostate will gradually enlarge with age (because of testosterone) and this can lead to a serious infection called prostatitis.  The testicles can also enlarge and become cancerous.  A neuter procedure removes the testicles, thus preventing any of these problems from ever occurring.   It is important to note that if your dog has a retained testicle, which is known as cryptorchidism, this should be removed at 6 months.  The cryptorchid testicle has a much higher chance of becoming cancerous.  Cryptorchid dogs should also not be bred, as it is thought to be genetic.  

A spay is the term for an ovariohysterectomy in a female dog.  This means that the surgery will remove the ovaries and the uterus.  A neuter is a term for a castration in a male dog.  This means removal of both testicles.  Both surgeries require general anesthesia and generally a one day stay in the hospital.  Your pet will have sutures placed internally, as well as in the skin.  The recovery period for both surgeries is generally about two weeks.  The risk of complications from surgery and anesthesia is very low and greatly outweighs the risks of not spaying or neutering your pet. 

Elizabeth Gigis, DVM
West Chester Veterinary Center
7330 Liberty Way, West Chester, OH 45069
www.wcvetcenter.com
513-755-2273