To Spay Or Not To Spay?

female dogWe often get asked when dogs come into us at Calagran Four Paws Hotel whether we recommend spaying and in general our answer is yes as it holds so many advantages for you and your dog. However, I thought this month it might be worth explaining the pros and cons of spaying.

Like in human’s seasons can be messy, so not having them for both you and the dog can be a huge benefit. Then there is the issue having to ensure your dog is kept away from those uncastrated males who may have their eye on her during her season and they will go to amazing lengths at times to get their way including breaking into gardens. Also seasons also don’t always come at exact dates which can be inconvenient if you have things planned including your dog.

There are also medical advantages to spaying including not getting pregnant and the complications involved. They are also protected from phantom pregnancies which can plague some dogs as well. Included in this list is also prevention of uterine infections and also the prevention of some cancers like ovarian and uterine carcinomas. There is also good evidence that spaying provides some protection against breast cancer which is one of the most common cancers in female dogs.

Sadly, everything has two sides and there are always disadvantages to consider.

The first is that spayed and castrated dogs do tend to put on weight more easily and this can lead to all sorts of joint issues. So if you do decide to spay you will need to keep a close eye on your dog’s shape and weight and adapt the feeding amounts to her new metabolism post spaying.

The other thing to remember is spaying is still quite a large operation, albeit a common and well understood one. Your dog will still face the same complications all operations in dogs and human face which are adverse reactions to anaesthesia, potential infections or bleeding complications. While uncommon in such a routine operation they can never be eliminated.

Spaying can also play a part in making a dog more susceptible to Hypothyroidism. It isn’t fully understood why but taking away the reproductive hormones can trigger changes in the endocrine system which may in a small number of cases result in thyroid changes.

There is also one cancer that in certain breeds can be more common in spayed dogs and that is a cancer of the heart and spleen. Whilst more common this by no means makes them likely – check with your vet if you are concerned.

The final thing to say about spaying is that it should not be done too early before the reproductive hormones have done their job in growth and development. Spaying too early can cause incontinence and increases the risk of joint issues and bone cancer. When is too early, can be discussed with your vet as no one rule fits all.

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