Dog spaying and neutering 101: What pet parents need to know

Spaying or neutering your dog is an important aspect of being a responsible pet parent. The routine procedure has numerous benefits for both your dog and the world’s animal population.

Guidance on the most appropriate time to spay or neuter has changed over the years and can feel more complicated and confusing than ever. Pet parents should understand the procedure’s benefits, potential risks, and factors that go into determining the best time to schedule surgery. When it comes and spaying and neutering, what do dog owners need to know?

Table of contents

  • What is spaying and neutering?
  • Benefits of spaying or neutering your dog
  • Potential risks
  • When should dogs be spayed or neutered?
  • Preparing your dog for surgery
  • Caring for dogs after spaying or neutering
  • How can ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA support your dog’s recovery?

What is spaying and neutering?

The terms spay and neuter refer to the surgical sterilization of animals. Spaying, also called an ovariohysterectomy, involves removing the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus of female cats and dogs. During an orchiectomy, or neutering procedure, a male animal’s testes are removed. These procedures eliminate an animal’s ability to reproduce and can also prevent disease and some undesirable behaviors associated with mating instincts.

Benefits of spaying or neutering your dog

Spaying and neutering pets has become standard practice in the U.S. and for good reason—the American Animal Hospital Association emphasizes that the advantages of sterilizing family dogs far outweigh potential risks. Benefits include:

  • Reduces risk of certain types of cancers and disease – Research has shown that dogs who have been spayed or neutered are significantly less likely to develop uterine infections, enlarged prostate glands, and testicular and breast cancers. Spaying female dogs before their first heat cycle offers the best protection from these diseases. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, these dogs have less than 0.5% chance of developing breast cancer, which affects approximately 50% of unspayed female dogs.
  • Curbs unwanted behaviors associated with mating – Spaying and neutering may reduce some behavioral problems associated with mating instincts and heat cycles. Neutered male dogs are less likely to exhibit urine-marking, excessive barking, mounting, some forms of aggression, and roaming. Similarly, spayed females typically do not exhibit excessive vocalizing and demanding behaviors, and do not have heat cycles with bloody discharge. This can all make for a more pleasant household pet.
  • Increases life expectancy – A University of Georgia study found that the average lifespan of sterilized dogs is significantly longer than that of intact dogs. This can be attributed to reduced risks of both serious disease and potentially dangerous behaviors like roaming. Roaming in search of a mate can expose dogs to fights with other animals, being hit by a car, becoming lost, and other life-threatening injuries and infections.
  • Cuts long-term healthcare costs – Cancers and other serious health issues, dog fights and roaming accidents, as well as pregnancy can all be very expensive, far outweighing the cost of a simple spay or neuter procedure. By spaying or neutering your dog, you can potentially save your dog’s life and thousands of dollars.
  • Limits unwanted pregnancy and pet overpopulation – Shelters around the country are filled with unwanted dogs. The ASPCA reports that approximately 6.5 million animals enter the shelter or rescue system annually, often maxing out shelter capacities and sometimes forcing facilities to euthanize animals. Spaying and neutering reduce the number of unwanted litters, helping to address overpopulation issues.

Potential risks

Although minimal and preventable, it is important for pet owners to understand the potential risks associated with spaying and neutering procedures for dogs. Potential risks include:



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