Many pet parents are wary of spaying their dog, wondering if the benefits are really worth the time, money, and unpleasant-sounding procedure. The truth is that the benefits of spaying are great and many, and most veterinary professionals recommend that you spay your smaller dog at around 6 months of age, and larger breed dogs at around 18 to 22 months. So what exactly are the benefit of spaying a dog? Let’s take a look.
1. Spaying Is Healthy
Spaying reduces or eliminates the possibility of your dog suffering certain health conditions that can end up being costly for you and painful, or even fatal, for them.
- Spaying completely prevents ovarian and uterine tumors, and greatly reduces the risk of mammary (breast) cancer -- especially if the dog is spayed before her first estrus cycle.
- Spaying reduces the risk of developing pyometra, an infection of the uterus that can be deadly, and occurs in 25 percent of unspayed female dogs before the age of 10, according to the ASPCA.
- Spaying prevents female dogs from pregnancy and its potential risks, including stress, injury, and disease.
2. Spaying Improves Behavior
Female dogs reach sexual maturity between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and at that time they have an influx of estrogen, signaling the beginning of their reproductive cycle. The reproductive cycle includes phases of estrus, or “heat.” Typically twice a year, these are times when the female is receptive to breeding. With these heat cycles come certain undesirable behaviors, which spaying can abate, or eliminate completely.
- Dogs in heat will often “roam,” leaving the house to look for males and putting themselves at risk for getting lost, injured, or killed. Spaying reduces, sometimes completely removes, the drive to roam.
- Urine marking and spraying is a common behavior of dogs in heat, and it often happens inside the home. This behavior is not only messy and foul-smelling, it can also result in a gang of eager dogs showing up at your door. Spaying eliminates this behavior, as well as the bloody discharge that comes with the heat cycle.
- The heat cycle can cause a dog to become irritable and anxious due to a combination of hormonal changes and ovulation pain. Spayed dogs no longer experience these physical events, and as a result, the related behaviors go away.
- Many unspayed female dogs exhibit aggressive behavior toward other females as they compete for male attention, or they develop protective aggression after a litter of puppies is born. Spaying reduces the tendency for aggression toward other females, and eliminates the possibility of pregnancy-related protective aggression.
3. Spaying Is Good for the Community
The benefits of spaying a dog go beyond health and behavior -- the procedure also has an impact on the larger dog community.
- Spaying helps to control the population of unwanted dogs who will end up on the streets, in shelters, or euthanized.
- Spaying allows breeders to stop the passing on of undesirable traits, resulting in litters of dogs who are healthier and more even tempered.
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