When Should I Spay or Neuter My Dog?

More on PawNation: Dogs, Health, Spay and Neuter
Jennifer Nicole Cox is a staff writer for Dogasaur.com and proud momma of one unique "Bentley" dog.

Every year, millions of dogs are either euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers could be prevented if the owners would simply spay or neuter their pets. The number one killer of dogs is shelter euthanasia and spaying and neutering is the only way to change that.

Deciding whether or not to sterilize your dog is not only an important responsibility to your pet, but it's also an important responsibility to your community. By spaying or neutering your dog, you're helping control your community's pet population. And with less strays on the streets, the members of your community will be much happier.

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If your dog lives indoors, don't assume that he doesn't need to be neutered. Even indoor dogs need to be sterilized because they may break away from a leash while out on a walk, which could result in them mating and producing puppies.

You may be wondering when the best time to have your dog spayed or neutered is. In animal shelters, surgery is often performed on puppies at 8 weeks of age so they can be sterilized prior to adoption. Many veterinarians recommend that dogs should be spayed or neutered at 5-6 months of age because they aren't too young and it's also right before puberty starts. They prefer sterilizing puppies because their reproductive organs are small. Also, puppies should recover quite well because of their age. Older dogs could possibly be good candidates for the surgery, but the veterinarian will need to determine if the procedure can be performed safely without any complications.

There are some disadvantages of early sterilization. For example, when a dog is sterilized, its internal source of testosterone or estrogen is removed. These hormones are needed to contribute to the healthy development of puppies. There have also been reports of medical problems with early sterilization.

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Having your dog spayed or neutered does cost money, but there are a lot of organizations that will offer to do it for a cheap rate. Some organizations will even do it for free. If you have to pay anything, keep in mind that it'll be much cheaper than the cost of having to care for a litter of puppies.

Spaying and neutering has benefits that far outweigh the disadvantages. Listed below are a couple of benefits for each type of sterilization.

Spaying
  • Spaying your dog will help prevent her from developing uterine infections and breast cancer.
  • Your spayed dog won't go into heat.
Neutering
  • Neutering your dog will prevent him from developing testicular cancer, but only if it's done prior to 6 months of age.
  • Your neutered dog will be less likely to roam away from home.
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Personally, I believe spaying and neutering should be mandatory until the stray pet population is reduced, but every dog owner is entitled to do what they believe is in the best interest of their pet. If you do decide to have your dog sterilized, don't wait too long. If you do, the odds of your pet developing a uterine disease or cancer will greatly increase.

As always, it's best to consult with your dog's veterinarian when determining the best course of action for your pet.

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