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Benefits of Neutering/Spaying

Altering your pet can have many medical as well as behavioural benefits.

Testicular cancer. Neutering removes the testes and eliminates the risk of your dog developing testicular cancer, a common and life-threatening cancer in older male dogs.

Prostate problems. Without neutering, your dog’s prostate will gradually enlarge as he gets older. This can become uncomfortable for him and even make urination difficult. If the prostate becomes infected, it’s difficult to treat without neutering. While neutering doesn’t completely guard against prostate cancer, it does prevent enlargement and possible infection of the prostate.

Urine marking. Testosterone makes a dog more interested in advertising his presence by urine marking. Neutering your dog will reduce his desire to excessively mark his surroundings with urine. This includes areas outside and around your yard, as well as inside your home.

Roaming. Unaltered dogs often try to leave home in search of a mate, which puts them at risk of getting lost and being injured or killed on roadways. Altered dogs tend to live longer than sexually intact dogs, probably because they’re less likely to engage in risky behaviors like roaming. Altering your dog will lessen or eliminate your dog’s urge to roam.

Aggression. Some studies suggest that neutering can decrease aggression toward other male dogs because testosterone might increase the likelihood of aggressive behavior. It’s possible that competition for mates results in aggression between male dogs, so a dog’s urge to fight with other males might go away when his desire for females is eliminated by neutering. However, there are many complex reasons why dogs fight, and you may not see any changes in your dog’s aggressive behavior simply because he’s been neutered. Spaying your dog can also eliminate the possibility of hormonally driven guarding behavior. Female dogs will sometimes behave aggressively if people or other pets attempt to approach or touch their puppies. Some dogs who don’t get pregnant during a heat cycle will experience a “false pregnancy” or “pseudopregnancy.” Females in false pregnancy often “adopt” objects and treat them like a litter. These females may guard the adopted objects as if they were real puppies.

Social problems. Other male dogs can easily detect an unneutered dog’s high testosterone level and become aggressive. This can make your intact dog a target of harassment by other male dogs. Neutering can reduce or eliminate this undesirable attention.

Inappropriate mounting. Your dog might be less likely to mount other dogs, people and inanimate objects after he’s neutered. However, mounting is a complex behavior. It can be a sexual behavior, but it can also be a playful behavior or an attempt to assert social control. Only sexually motivated mounting can be reduced by neutering. And although a dog’s interest in females in heat will diminish after neutering, it might not be completely eliminated. He might still become aroused and try to mate if he encounters a receptive female.

Mammary (breast) cancer. Females spayed prior to their first estrus cycle have a significantly reduced risk of developing mammary cancer, a common cancer in unspayed females. The chances of developing this cancer increase if a female isn’t spayed until after her second heat cycle, but they still remain lower than the risk for unspayed females. So if your dog has already gone through her first heat cycle, it’s not too late. Spaying her will still reduce her risk of developing cancerous mammary tumors.

Pyometra. Bacteria can infect a female dog’s uterus, causing a potentially fatal infection. This kind of infection, called pyometra, usually occurs in older females (about seven to eight years of age). Approximately 25% of all unspayed females will suffer from pyometra before the age of 10. If your unspayed female shows signs of lethargy, depression, anorexia, excessive water drinking, vaginal discharge, excessive urination, pale mucous membranes (the skin inside her mouth and nose), vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal distension or inflamed eyes, get her to a veterinarian immediately. Having your dog spayed eliminates the possibility that she’ll contract pyometra.

Ovarian and uterine tumors. Ovarian and uterine tumors are uncommon in dogs, although some breeds may be predisposed to developing ovarian tumors. Older female dogs are at increased risk. Having your dog spayed completely eliminates the possibility of her developing ovarian or uterine cancer.

Injury, stress and disease related to having puppies. Carrying and giving birth to puppies can be both physically dangerous and stressful for a dog. Spaying eliminates these potential risks.

Frequent urination. Females in heat urinate often to attract male dogs with the scent of their urine. Not only will this cause a line-up of neighborhood male dogs at your door, but it can also lead to urine on your carpet and furniture. Spaying your dog will eliminate frequent urination and bloody discharge, both of which may occur during her heat cycle.

Irritability. Each estrus cycle causes significant hormonal changes in a female dog. Some dogs become irritable or nervous and even feel pain due to ovulation. Because spayed dogs don’t experience these hormonal changes, a female dog’s behavior may be more consistent after she’s spayed.

Common Myths

Don’t Spay Your Dog Until After Her First Heat -There’s no behavioral or medical benefit to waiting to spay your dog until after her first heat cycle. In fact, each heat cycle your dog experiences increases her risk of developing serious medical conditions. To best prevent the development of unwanted behavior and medical problems, make plans to spay your dog before she reaches sexual maturity at six to 12 months of age.

Letting a Dog Have One Litter Will Calm Her Down -There’s nothing magical about giving birth that leads to a calmer, better-behaved dog. Two things that do lead to a better-behaved dog are proper obedience training and regular exercise. If you use gentle, consistent training techniques to teach your dog some basic manners, she’ll learn how to control her impulses. Making sure your dog gets at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, as well as plenty of mental exercise, can also greatly improve her behavior. If you have a puppy, keep in mind that maturity may bring calmer behavior, too.

Spaying Is a Quick Fix for All Behavior Problems - Some people think that spaying or neutering a dog will get rid of all their behavior problems. Although it often reduces undesirable behaviors caused by the heat cycle, there’s no guarantee that your dog’s behavior will change after she’s spayed. The effects of spaying are largely dependent on your dog’s individual personality, physiology and history. Even if spaying does remedy behavior problems that are influenced by hormones, it’s not a quick fix that will instantly transform your dog into an angelic companion. If you want her to learn polite manners, you’ll still need to teach her basic obedience skills. If you need help with training, please contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in your area.

To prevent the development of the behaviors listed above, it’s best to alter your dog before they reach sexual maturity at six to twelve months of age. That way, they are unlikely to develop unwanted habits. If your dog has practiced these habits for months or years, they might persist even after neutering. However, if you have an older dog, it’s still a good idea to alter them. Even if you can’t completely get rid of their problematic behaviors, you might see them less often after they are altered—and altering will still be beneficial to their physical health.

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