Do you have a new puppy and you’re wondering when to have her fixed? Do you have an older female who has birthed her last litter or who is at risk for pregnancy? In every case, unless you plan on breeding your female dog, veterinarians strongly recommend that all female pets be spayed, ideally before a year of age for the best health advantages!
WHAT IS A DOG SPAY?
Spaying is a surgical procedure in which a female dog’s uterus and ovaries are safely removed. Having your dog spayed removes all risk of uterine infection, ovarian cancer, and pregnancy over the life of your pet. Not only does a dog spay cut out these serious health risks, it also reduces the likelihood of other health issues, like mammary cancer and urinary tract infections.
Although usually more notable in neutered male pets, spaying your female dog may also cut down on territorial and aggressive behaviors as well. Counter to a popular misconception, spaying your pet will not change her personality–she will still be the same affectionate, happy pup you love. What spaying will do is decrease the chance that she is wounded in a territorial fight or that she’s hit by a car when roaming for a mate, and these are positive alterations.
WHEN SHOULD MY DOG BE SPAYED?
Again, if you don’t intend to breed your female pet, the dog spay surgery is best performed prior to the dog’s first heat cycle to most greatly reduce the risk of secondary health and behavior problems, like mammary cancer and aggression. 5 to 6 months of age is a good time for most pups. As before any surgery, we strongly recommend that your pet have routine blood tests to check that her kidney, liver, and heart are healthy and strong and that her red and white blood cell counts are balanced as well. These blood tests also help us check for any genetic anomalies that may have yet to show in your young pet.
Another common misconception many owners ask our vets is whether or not to allow their female dog to have at least one litter prior to being spayed. In actuality, a pet’s first litter is commonly the most difficult birthing process, and it unnecessarily exposes your dog to the risk of complications before birth, during labor, and after birth. Many pyometra infections, severe, life-threatening infections of the uterus, occur shortly after the mother has given birth. As stated above, having your female pup spayed prior to her first heat cycle is the best benefit to her health, so unless you plan to professionally breed your dog, our vets strongly advise having her spayed around 6 months of age.