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When to Get Your Dog Spayed or Neutered

Jun 18, 2008
So many people who get a new puppy are overwhelmed with the responsibility of it all that they don't have time to stop and think between all of the vet visits, the potty training, and the play time. However, one thing that every new doggie family has to consider is whether or not they should have their dog spayed or neutered. This is a big decision for most households, and not one that should be taken lightly or done without discussion and consideration.

Unless you're planning to use your dog for breeding or showing, it's best to have your dog fixed. There are many complications that can arise from leaving a female or male dog intact. For male dogs the main health concern is cancer; however, having your male dog neutered will also help to curb a lot of unappealing behavior like marking territory and running off to try and mate. The risk for an un-spayed female dog, though, is much greater. Female dogs who are not fixed can develop infected uteruses, have an increased risk of developing mammary cancer, have pregnancy complications or even hormone problems if they remain in tact.

If you're going to get your pet fixed, you'll also need to take into consideration the age at which the surgical procedure should take place. Many pet owners don't realize that having their dog spayed or neutered at a relatively young age is extremely beneficial to their pet. For example, if female dogs are spayed before they ever go into heat - at approximately six to eight months old - then the chance that they will have mammary cancer is almost zero percent. This complete elimination of cancer complications is an extremely appealing reason for many pet owners to have their dogs spayed.

However, some people still believe the old wives tales that say that allowing a female dog to whelp at least one litter will calm her down and be healthier for her. This could not be further from the truth. In allowing your dog to have a litter of puppies, you are exposing her to potentially life-threatening consequences from complications in the pregnancy, including disease or infection. It even increases their risk for cancer, and the influx of hormones and anxiety that come with a pregnancy can make your dog more aggressive.

Male dogs are slightly different than females in the sense that there is no set "heat cycle" of hormones that you're trying to prevent in order to lower their risk of cancer. It's still a good idea, though, to get your male dog fixed at a relatively early age - approximately six months to a year - in order to ensure that they live a long, active, and healthy life. Outside of testicular and prostate cancer, male dogs that are left unfixed tend to grow aggressive and territorial. This can lead to destructive behavioral patterns like biting, urinating in the house to mark property, running away, and a resistance to instruction.

These are just a few of the reasons why it's recommended that pet owners should get their dogs spayed and neutered at an early age to avoid complications. It's never a bad idea to discuss your concerns with a veterinarian to get the most complete picture of your dog's health. Working together, you can make the best decision about how and why your pet should be fixed.
About the Author
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