The Truth About Spay and Neuter Surgery for Puppies

Learn the facts behind what will probably be your puppy's only major surgery.

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Airedale TerrierYou've heard the myths that spay or neuter surgery makes a dog fat or less protective; now get the facts. The Doris Day Animal Foundation, in conjunction with the organizations annual Spay Day USA, helps answer common questions about spay and neuter surgery.

Q. What does spay and neuter mean for my puppy?
Spaying and neutering, the most common surgical procedures performed on animals, prevent animals from being able to reproduce. Females undergo spay surgery (ovariohysterectomy), which involves the removal of her ovaries and uterus. A male gets neuter surgery (orchidectomy), where his testicles are removed.

Q. Does spaying and neutering hurt?
Veterinarians provide dogs with a general anesthetic, so the surgery itself is painless. Any discomfort your dog feels afterward is minimal and part of the normal healing process. In fact, your dog will probably show no sign of discomfort from the procedure, and may attempt to resume normal activity when he or she gets home. Owners need to monitor their dogs to ensure that they do not aggravate the incision. Most dogs can return to normal activity within 3 days.

Q. Does spaying and neutering provide any other health benefits?
Yes. Spaying greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer and prevents various reproductive tract disorders. Neutering often resolves undesirable behaviors such as aggression, marking and roaming, and eliminates the risk of testicular diseases.

Q. Doesn't spaying and neutering make animals less protective?
No. Any changes brought about by spaying or neutering are generally positive. Neutered male dogs usually stop territorial marking. Neutered males tend to fight less and are less likely to become lost due to straying from home in search of a mate. Spayed females do not go into heat or need to be confined indoors to avoid pregnancy. Dogs do not become less protective or loyal to their guardians as a result of being altered.

Q. Is it really necessary to neuter male puppies? They don't give birth!
The old saying "it takes two to tango" is as true for dogs as it is for humans. Intact males are less attached to their human families, and often try to escape in their search for a mate. In fact, your intact dog will likely try repeatedly to escape, and in the process dig up your yard, scratch up your door or chew off his restraint. Males that roam in search of a mate are susceptible to injury by cars or in fights with other males. And while a female dog can only have one litter at a time, male dogs can impregnate many females each day.

Next Step: When should I spay or neuter my dog? 

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Sue   Memphis, Tennessee

1/2/2014 8:16:08 PM

Good luck. My precious, healthy Pomerian baby just died today during her elective spaying surgery.

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Patricia   McKinney, Texas

12/22/2013 9:55:51 AM

I own a male Akita...he is my second one. I neutered my first Akita at approximately 4 years of age because his testicles never descended and that can cause cancer. Aside from preventing possible cancer in that case, there were no other advantages that I could detect. He had a beautiful disposition before and after the procedure. He immediately began to gain weight....he was always able to eat as much as he wanted. Post neuter, I literally could only feed him one measuring cup of kibble in the morning, and one in the evening to keep him trim. He was given tons of exercise as I am a jogger. Neutering absolutely does not sit well with me...feeding a 105 lb dog two measuring cups of food a day to keep his weight down just seems wrong. My present Akita is lean and beautiful and not neutered. I can tell immediately if a male dog is neutered....they look like a walking 'coffee table'....wide body, skinny legs. My dogs are monitored 24/7... I have a fenced in yard...they are given lots of exercise and human interaction. If you cannot provide these things to an animal, then don't own one. I understand the issues of overpopulation of unwanted and abused animals. However, I don't believe a blanket resolution of 'neutering all pets' is the answer. Education and responsibility are the answers. Again, if you cannot provide love, monitoring, daily interaction, high quality food, and lots of exercise to your pet...then simply don't own one.

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joy gustin   goshen,ohio, International

5/5/2013 8:30:08 AM

my 4 monthold male schnauzer is tryingto mate with my 1 old female schnauzer that is spayed ,is this normal? can he be neutered now?should i seperate them.?

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Gregory   Ottawa, ON

4/9/2012 12:05:45 PM

Although there are many potential benefits to spaying or neutering dogs, there are also many risks, and I think it is less than honest not to list the downsides. It is a simple matter of giving people all the facts to allow them to make an informed

(1) Neutered dogs have been scientifically shown to be 2 times more likely to suffer from prostate adenocarcinoma, 4 times more likely to suffer from prostate carcinoma, 4 times more likely to suffer from malignant bladder cancer, and 8 times more likely to suffer from prostate transitional cell carcinoma. (Source, "A population study of neutering status as a risk factor for canine prostate cancer" by the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, University of Missouri, see

(2) Spayed and neutered male dogs have a significantly increased risks of anterior cruciate ligament

(3) Spayed females have 2 times the risk of a spleen tumour and 5 times the risk of a heart

(4) Neutered males have 2.4 times the risk of a heart

(5) Spaying or neutering reduces a dog's metabolism, increasing the risk of obesity. This is not insurmountable: an owner simply needs to feed less and exercise more, but the risk should not be

(6) The risks of anaesthetising a dog for the surgery increase rapidly after one year of age. If it is carried out at all, spaying and neutering should be done sooner rather than

All of this is not to say that people should not spay or neuter their dogs. But if you do so, make sure it is because you have carefully thought out what is best for your pet, and not acted on half-truths from people pursuing their own agendas instead of the best interests of your best friend.

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