Spaying or neutering your dog

Many people think of their dog as a member of their family, a companion and a friend. As you look at your wonderful friend, take a moment to think about the millions of dogs that animal shelters have to euthanize every year. You can do your part to curb the spiraling dog population by having your dog spayed or neutered.

Both male and female dogs are capable of reproducing between the ages of six to nine months.

Female dogs go through a heat cycle, called estrus, every six months. She will have proestrus, or a bleeding cycle, before her true heat cycle during which she is very receptive to the advances of male dogs. This heat cycle lasts for several days up to three or four weeks. Some female dogs will undergo personality changes during this time, the most common changes being anxiety and irritability.

Spaying, known technically as an ovariohysterectomy, is a surgery that removes your female dog’s ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. The procedure will completely eliminate all heat cycles for the rest of her life, as well as end the bleeding cycles and behavior problems.

Spaying your female dog also helps protect her from uterine infections and other diseases, as well as difficult or dangerous pregnancies. If your dog is spayed before her first heat cycle, her chances of developing mammary cancer later in life is greatly reduced.

Most male dogs are ready and willing to reproduce any time between six to 12 months of age. They can breed throughout the year or any time they find a receptive female. Male dogs can smell a female in heat from a great distance and think nothing of escaping the confines of their yard to track the female down. Since other male dogs are doing the same, the chances are good that he will wind up in a fight or possibly become the victim of a road accident. Male dogs will also mark their territory, by urinating on furniture, walls, shrubs, etc.

Surgical neutering of male dogs, which involves the removal of the testicles, known as an orchiectomy, eliminates reproductive behavior and reduces the desire to spray. Your boy will still have his own unique personality, but he will be less likely to roam and get into fights.

Humane Societies across the country are implementing mandatory spaying or neutering before someone is allowed to take their new dog home and the procedures are being done with great success on dogs as young as eight weeks old. You should talk to your veterinarian about the best time to neuter your dog.

Source: Adapted from the American Animal Hospital Association