Neuter and Spay: Desexing Your Dog Explained

Desexing Your Dog: Yay or Nay?


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Desexing your dog is a big decision. In fact, it can be one of the biggest decisions in a pet parent’s life. For example, you may have concerns about potential mental and physical health drawbacks neutering/spaying could have for your pup.

February is Spay and Neuter Awareness Month but at PD Insurance we like to raise awareness every month. In this article we’re looking at what it means to neuter and spay your dog. And whether you should.

When to get your dog desexed

Usually, puppies can be desexed from five months old and onwards. But this varies depending on breed and size. Female dogs have their ovaries surgically removed (spaying). Male dogs have their testicles removed (neutering).

It’s just one of the important medical treatments you’ll need to talk to your vet about in your dog’s first year. Find out about the others in our puppy health care milestones article.

Every same-day desexing operation is performed by a vet while your pup is under general anaesthetic. Dogs can generally return home once they’ve woken up. Having said that, it can take 10 to 14 days for them to fully recover. Be ready with some serious TLC.

dog about to be desexed at the vet

Preparation and recovery

Before desexing your dog, take note of the following:

  • Prepare a warm and quiet area for them to come home to after the procedure, including water bowl, food bowl and dog bed
  • Don’t feed pup any food for 12 hours before going in
  • Make sure he/she is clean and washed before going in
  • Get your pup to do their toileting routine before the operation
  • For preparing to give any prescribed medication after the operation, find out how to give medicine to your puppy

Further on the recovery area you prepare for their arrival home, make sure the room doesn’t have any stairs or such that can lead to your newly-stitched pet injuring itself. Also ensure you’ve puppy pads or similar if they need to go to the toilet. Even if you’ve long finished toilet training your puppy, now’s not the time to get focused on that.

You should have wipes/towels on hand too, in case your dog vomits while recovering (common after surgery). You’ll want to have the dog bed covered with a blanket or similar for this reason.

Don’t allow children or other pets in. Pup will be sore, and you want to minimise any risk of it becoming aggressive or trying to move around too much.

dog recovers from desexing procedure

Medical benefits of desexing a dog

Experts say the benefits of desexing your dog outweigh any perceived drawbacks. Let’s look at what these are…

Desexing male dogs

We spoke to Carolyn Press-McKenzie, founder and CEO of HUHA, to get her advice on desexing your dog.

“I think that it’s something most pets should have done, so they’re able to live their life without the stress and pressure of going into season. So many animals come to us after being hit by a car because they’ve been roaming looking for a ’friend’. And with the boys, they’re less likely to get prostate cancer or testicular cancer. Desexing also removes the testosterone edge and aggression. It’s interesting to note that while sexual aggression in males is reduced, they continue to be good guard dogs. Their instinct to guard territory remains intact.”

Desexing female dogs

Some pet parents feel their dogs ought to have one litter before they desex their dog. Think carefully about this – what are the benefits to the animal of having puppies? You may find the advantages of desexing after a litter don’t actually outweigh the advantages of doing it prior.

For example, spaying before the first heat means female dogs are less likely to get mammary tumours when they’re older. Mammary tumours are the most common malignant tumours in female dogs. They can cause pet obesity in dogs and can often be life threatening.

these puppy's mum dog is getting desexed after her first litter

Arguments against spaying and neutering

Of course desexing is not for everyone’s dog. Some experts and owners prefer to keep pup intact.

For example, you want your pooch to have puppies. And, you’re also committed to finding the puppies great furever homes (not joining the ranks of unethical puppy mills in NZ). Or you’re keen to keep a healthy horde (careful to avoid the temptation to hoard!). Or you’re one of New Zealand’s ethical dog breeders, in which case – thank you for breeding happy healthy pups!

In either case, make sure you have the time and resources to ensure your dog can have a healthy pregnancy. This means plenty of exercise, rest, pregnancy vitamins, a pregnancy planned diet and more. Read more on how long dogs are pregnant and what’s involved.

A paper from Rutgers University on Animal Sciences says the decision should be made according to specific conditions. For example, gender, age and dog breed as well as long-term care, housing and training.

Potential medical complications

According to this research, desexing dogs can have medical complications too. Some possibilities are:

  • Increased chance of bone cancer
  • Higher risk of orthopedic disorders
  • Greater risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations
  • Triples the risk of hypothyroidism

However, the research also reiterates that health benefits of desexing (female) dogs may exceed potential problems.

For example, spaying nearly eliminates the risk of pyometra, an infection in the uterus. Pyometra affects roughly 23% of intact female dogs and can be fatal. In addition, the reduced risk of mammary tumours also is significant as 50-60% of mammary tumours are malignant. With male dogs, neutering may reduce the chances of diabetes in dogs.

Why you should desex your dog in New Zealand

In New Zealand, tens of thousands of animals come through local shelters’ doors each year. These abandoned and unwanted animals are often puppies. Owners have let their dog get accidentally (or intentionally) pregnant by failing to desex them.

Countless unwanted puppies are put down because shelters are overpopulated. At the time of writing, Auckland Council animal shelters were euthanising almost eight dogs a day.

desexing a dog isn't necessary if you plan to care for litters

World Spay Day – 23 February 2021

World Spay Day is an annual celebration that helps highlight Spay and Neuter Awareness Month. Many shelters see an influx of unwanted puppies (and kittens) in February – born in the spring and summer months.

What will you do about your furry loved one’s ability to produce litters in February and every other month throughout their fertile life?

Neuter and spay, and pet insurance too

For anyone thinking “But the queen bred multi-generations of Corgis. Why shouldn’t I?” then think again. The queen has inhouse staff, a queen-size salary, and a palace. So, ample room and resources. For those of us who lead normal lives, let’s just focus on giving our dogs their best life.

Did you know we give our new customers one or more months of free pet insurance – the amount depends on pet age – with no lock-in contract?! Just a free, no-obligation offer to cover your pup’s toosh in case of accident or illness (though not desexing; that’s another ball game).

A dog insurance prompted soft landing for your pup’s health can be right here, with us.

Click below to start today.

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