In the latest blog in our behavioural series we are going to take a look at the issue of neutering and spaying
There is no doubt that this is a contentious issue. Opinion is hugely divided between when to neuter or spay and in fact whether to do it at all. So let’s start with some facts….
At around 6 months of age Dogs both male and female start to become greatly influenced by sexual hormones. Next to eating this is the highest drive any Dog will have.
When Dogs are left intact their drive to mate can become overwhelming.
Male Dogs start to become territorial, hence the scent marking and guarding, and sometimes highly aggressive.
Some female Dogs will have their first season at around 6 months of age. Most female Dogs will have their first season at around 12 months of age, but it can even be up to 18 months of age.
Some female Dogs will then have a season every six months thereafter. However, most female Dogs will actually only have one heat cycle per year, especially larger Dogs
A female can be in heat from between 4 to 25 days depending on the Dog
A Female Dog is most fertile about 12 days after the bleeding starts
Dogs that are left intact have a huge build up of sex related Hormones which can have a hugely negative effect on both their behaviour and their health.
I personally believe that leaving a Dog intact that never has the opportunity to mate is actually cruel. Dogs left this way are highly frustrated and can become depressed.
Aside from preventing female Dogs from becoming pregnant, Neutering/spaying a Dog also has some highly beneficial effects on their health.
Spaying/neutering a Dog can help prevent:
Perianal gland adenomas
Male Dogs are less likely to roam away from home and get lost
When to Neuter or Spay a Dog:
This is a subject that causes huge debate amongst Dog Care Professionals. Some professionals claim that it is best to neuter/spay a Dog prior to sexual maturity (Or in the case of a female Dog prior to their first season)
Some professionals argue ferociously that it is best to wait until after sexual maturity (Or in the case of a female Dog after their first season)
There is no absolute rule of thumb so it becomes an individual choice. However, there are some facts that you should be aware of
The argument for neutering/spaying prior to sexual maturity…. Female Dogs that are spayed prior to having their first season have a much lower risk of developing mammary cancer (Around 25% lower). With every season that passes the Dog’s chances of developing this cancer increases
In respect of male Dogs, neutering them prior to their sexual maturity will help prevent them from developing aggressive behaviour that once they have developed can become a learned behaviour and is more likely to be permanent
Some people also claim that it is best to neuter/spay a Dog before they fully develop their sexual drive to save them from this frustrating experience.
The argument for neutering/spaying after sexual maturity
Up until about six months of age puppies are still growing and developing. Critically their bones are still developing. Some people claim that neutering/spaying prior to this point will hinder this development.
Some people believe that if you neuter/spay a puppy before they reach sexual maturity they will remain a puppy. There is actually no medical basis for this argument
When not to Spay a Dog
It is essential that a Dog not be spayed during a season or when they are about to come into season. At this time a Dog’s blood vessels are larger and this poses a higher risk in surgery.
It is also important not to spay a Dog 8 weeks after she has been in season because at this time the Dog could be suffering from a hormonal imbalance known as a false pregnancy. The surgery could cause a further hormonal imbalance which would be unfair to the Dog. If she is producing milk as a result of the imbalance, it could also make the surgical wound more difficult to heal
Ultimately, the decision of whether to neuter/spay a Dog is a choice that only an owner can make. If you are unsure speak with your Vet and other professionals to ensure any decision you make is made having considered all the available facts
– See more at: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/pet-health-hub/other-veterinary-advice/dog-neutering-a-guide-to-castration-and-spaying