These days, most responsible pet owners choose to have their pets spayed and neutered. However, choosing when to do so and what kind of clinic to use are important considerations. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can be helpful, too.

Take a look at our details and tips below before making a choice for your pet!

What Types of Clinics Are There?

Regular veterinary clinics: Almost all regular veterinary clinics perform spay and neuter surgeries. They tend to be both the most cautious and the most expensive.

It is common for regular veterinary clinics to perform detailed blood work and even heart monitoring tests before the surgery. This ensures that the surgery is as safe as possible for your pet. But it also introduces additional expenses.

Dedicated spay and neuter clinics: There are dedicated spay and neuter clinics in most areas these days. They are often attached to animal shelters and humane societies. But some of them are standalone operations.

They usually perform fewer detailed tests but will do a thorough physical to ensure that your pet is healthy enough for surgery. Because of this, having your pet spayed or neutered at a dedicated clinic is usually cheaper. Some of these clinics offer additional discounts to low-income people or those with a particular breed of dog.

When to Neuter a Dog: Things to Consider

1. Safety

From a safety perspective, age is not a major consideration when the dog is young. Animal shelters that must spay and neuter their dogs before adoption have been performing what they call pediatric neuters for a long time. Seven- to eight-week-old puppies can have this surgery very safely if they are large enough, regarding their size.

Senior dogs may present a greater risk because of the anesthesia. Female dogs that are pregnant or in heat represent an additional bleeding risk. So some vets will spay these dogs and others will insist that you wait. Spay and neuter surgery on senior dogs is routine now. But most vets will recommend doing blood work beforehand.

2. Practicality

Practically speaking, spay and neuter surgery is best done before the dog’s hormonal behaviors start to cause problems. Females come into heat for the first time anywhere between six and eighteen months old. Larger dogs tend to have their first heat later.

Male dogs enter adolescence during the same period. However, most of them are displaying some hormonal behaviors by seven months of age. There is mixed evidence about which canine behaviors are hormonal. But things like roaming and marking are definitely related to hormones. To avoid allowing any of these behaviors to start and then become habits, many people believe that it is best to neuter your dog before they are a year old.

3. Long-Term Effects

Because spay and neuter surgeries remove certain hormones from the body, long-term physical effects do occur. A neutered dog (male or female) becomes a little taller than their un-neutered counterparts. There is some evidence that this growth is uneven and may predispose them to certain injuries later in life.

People also wonder about the effects of early spay and neuter on the brain, which was intended to mature in the presence of these hormones. Certain behavior issues are believed to be related to age at spay or neuter, although these beliefs are mostly unproven. Delaying spay and neuter surgeries until after a year of age is sometimes used to counter both physical and mental issues.

Talking to your vet about when the best time for surgery is for your particular dog is usually the best idea. They know if your dog’s breed is prone to any issues that may be affected by the surgery. A vet will also be able to give you a comprehensive pros and cons list related to the timing of the operation.

What Happens When You Neuter a Dog

1.      Surgery Itself

The surgery itself involves the removal of the dog’s sex organs. In the male dog, these are the testicles. In the female dog, these are the ovaries and uterus. Neuter is technically the correct term for both sexes, although it is common to use the word spay for females.

For male dogs, the incision is usually made just in front of their testicles. Female dogs usually have an incision in their lower belly, below the navel. Both types of incisions will be closed using stitches, glue, staples, or some combination of these.

A spay and neuter clinic, and sometimes a regular veterinarian, may choose to put a small tattoo near the surgical incision. This is to indicate later that your dog is spayed or neutered. If your dog ever winds up in the shelter for any reason, they will be able to use this tattoo to determine whether he or she is spayed or neutered.

dog in yard

Before and After Surgery

Before surgery, you will receive a list of instructions about what to do. You may be instructed to withhold food and water for a period before you take your dog in for surgery. The vet will probably provide instructions about what to expect afterward at this time, as well.

Most dedicated clinics perform spays and neuters as out-patient surgery. You will bring your dog in, usually early in the morning, and then pick it up in the evening. Veterinary clinics all have different practices, and they may want your dog to spend the night before or after surgery.

Dogs are usually groggy after surgery. They may be wearing a protective e-collar, also known as a cone. This is to prevent them from chewing on their stitches. Your vet will provide instructions on pain medication, when and how to start feeding your dog again, and if you need to come back to have stitches removed.

To the Decision

Spay and neuter surgery is generally very safe and widely available. Considerations include what age is best for surgery, and what type of clinic to choose. Before and after care should be outlined by the clinic of your choice.s

Have you neutered your dog? What changes did you notice? Share your experience with us!

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