At What Age Should you Spay or Neuter a Dog

Traditionally, vets recommended neutering or spaying dogs at the age of 6 months. However, things have changed over the past decade, with many vets recommending early-age desexing (EAD) from the age of 8 weeks onwards.

There is considerable scientific evidence to suggest that EAD is a safe and effective strategy for the wider pet owners’ community to prevent unwanted/unplanned litters in cats and dogs. However, it is NOT recommended for large dog breeds who often take longer to reach skeleton maturity.

So, at what age should you neuter or spay a dog?

The earlier the cats and dogs are desexed, the less likely they will reproduce and swell up the number of unwanted companion pets entering shelters and pounds. Desexing at an early age also minimizes the duration that young pets need to spend in shelters. If possible, it’s important to spay or neuter puppies before they are sold from a breeder or pet shop.

What is the Difference between Spaying and Neutering?

Many dog owners use the two terms interchangeably, which is not accurate. Spaying refers to removing the ovaries and uterus of a female pet to prevent fertilization and eventual littering. It is a simple veterinary procedure that requires minimal hospitalization and provides lifelong health benefits. 

Neutering, on the other hand, refers to removing the testicles of a male dog or cat to prevent them from mating and impregnating their “on-heat” female counterparts. The procedure can vastly improve your pet’s behavior and safely tame him at home.

Reasons Why a Dog Should Be Spayed/Neutered

There are several important reasons for neutering or spaying dogs. From a community point of view, desexing your dog prevents any accidental litter of puppies. 

Each year, about 1.5 million pets are euthanized by shelters in the US (860,000 cats and 670,000 dogs). This is in fact a declined from approximately 2.6 million dogs and cats euthanized in 2011. This staggering number is definitely a very strong reason to desex all pets not meant for breeding!

Why Neuter Male Dogs

Common reasons to consider neutering your male dog include:

  • Prevents unwanted behaviors – It is quite common for intact male dogs to exhibit undesirable behaviors such as urine marking, masturbation, and humping.
  • Improved loyalty – A neutered dog is likely to be more focused on his owner, instead of getting distracted by nearby females on heat. 
  • Reduces Escapes – Neutering eliminates the temptation for male dogs to escape whenever they smell a female in season. 
  • Increased lifespan of 9-12 months
  • Eliminates or reduces risks of medical conditions such as prostatic enlargement, cystine bladder stones, testicular tumor, perianal tumor, and perineal hernia.

Why Spay Female Dogs

For female dogs, spaying offers the following benefits:

  • Eliminates the situation where females drip blood around the house during their cycle. 
  • Increased lifespan of 9-12 months
  • Eliminates heat periods and unwanted pregnancies
  • Prevents pyometra (uterine infection)

Overall, you need to neuter your male dog for behavior enhancement and spay your females for population control and health reasons!

Reasons NOT to Spay/Neuter a Dog

Apart from infertility, one of the proven negative side effects of spaying female dogs is an increased risk of urinary incontinence. Male dogs may also have an increased risk of prostate and bladder cancer. Other reasons not to desex your dog include:

  • Increased risks of overweight or obesity
  • Higher incidence of cruciate ligament problems and hip dysplasia.  
  • Increased risk of certain cancers, such as haemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, and mast cell tumor.
  • Higher risk of prostate and bladder cancer in males.
  • Increased risk of urinary incontinence in females.

Although these side effects may sound scary, you shouldn’t be overly concerned about the various cancers associated with desexing. There’s clearly a trade-off in reduced rates of other diseases such as prostatic enlargement, cystine bladder stones, testicular tumor, perianal tumor, perineal hernia, and uterine infections.

Moreover, desexing offers a moderate increase in the lifespan of both sexes (typically 9 to 12 months). In other words, although desexing may potentially result in some negative health effects, it significantly lowers the risk of many debilitating life-threatening diseases.

What is the best age to spay or neuter a dog?

It is best to spay or neuter dogs at SIX months as it helps to eliminate heat periods and littering in females and pre-empt many behavior changes in males. Some vets recommend desexing dogs earlier, but there are no documented benefits in the practice.

In most cases, it is much better to allow your dog’s liver and other organs that process anesthetics to mature before you schedule the procedure (most dogs would have reached that maturity level at six months).

However, some vets maintain that there is no one particular age that is ‘best’ for desexing dogs. There are pros and cons to neutering or spaying dogs at different ages. Always consult with your vet to evaluate the overall health of your pet and recommend the best age to neuter or spay based on the breed, size, and sex.

Overall, here are the pros and cons of desexing dogs at different ages to help you make an informed choice.

Benefits of Early-Age Dog Desexing (EAD)

Modern dog desexing procedures provide significant animal welfare benefits as compared to traditional age desexing. Since the anatomical structures of younger pups are less developed, the desexing surgery is much faster and easier.

There is less tissue trauma or handling involved, and the surgery incision site is smaller, which minimizes bleeding. Moreover, pet surgeons spend minimal time to prepare young pups for EAD, meaning that your pooch won’t have to endure long hours under general anesthesia.

The anesthetic recovery and wound healing times are equally shorter, providing further pet welfare benefits. Scientific findings also indicate that EAD can significantly reduce the risk of mammary cancer in both cats and dogs.

These unique benefits are in addition to other commonly accepted benefits associated with desexing, such as the reduction in roaming/wandering and undesirable sexual behaviors such as urine spraying and mounting.

Other benefits of desexing before the recommended age of 6 months include:

  • Reduced risk of mammary tumors 
  • Less complicated, less expensive surgery  
  • Lower council rates for registering your pup 
  • Reduced chances of establishing sexual behaviors  
  • Reduced chances of accidental breeding 

Potential Disadvantages to Early Age Desexing

Early sex desexing poses some potential drawbacks, including:

  • Increased risks of developing joint problems later in life (especially due to obesity). 
  • Increased likelihood or severity of hormone-responsive incontinence. 
  • Increased anesthetic risk, particularly if the dog is neutered or spayed at a very young age. 

Advantages of Old Age Desexing

There are some advantages to spaying or neutering your dog at an older age (generally when the dog is skeletally mature, which is between 12 and 24 months depending on the breed). 

Neutering at 12 months is often recommended for dog breeds prone to hip dysplasia and cruciate disease. New findings, however, suggest that 6 months is still OK for male Labradors and other giant breeds. Later spaying may also benefit females with urinary incontinence.

For medium-sized breeds, vets recommend waiting until at least 9 months (particularly for dogs weighing 15 kgs and above adult bodyweight. Dachshunds should be desexed later to minimize the risk of IVDD.

Female dogs with a deeply recessed vulva should be allowed to have a season to lower the risk of perivulval dermatitis when they turn into adults. After a season, it’s best to wait for at least 2 months to allow everything to settle down before scheduling a surgery.

Other pros of old age desexing include:

  • Reduced risks of joint disease later in life 
  • Reduced risks of certain tumors 

Disadvantages of Old Age Desexing

Desexing your dog at an older age can have some negative effects, including:

  • Surgery is more difficult with increased costs and longer recovery times. 
  • Your dog would have established some undesirable sexual behaviors that will be difficult to reverse. 
  • Greater chances of accidental litters. 

Pro Tip:

“In general, you should leave desexing large breed dogs until later, but small and medium breeds should be desexed at six months if not earlier.”

The Best Age to Spay/Neuter a Dog by Breed

Although it is widely acceptable to spay or neuter your pooch at an age of six months, scientific evidence shows that different dog breeds respond differently to desexing. It is a wise idea to discuss with your vet about the right age to desex your specific breed to minimize risks of negative health effects.

According to two scientific studies published in 2020, 39 pure breeds and mixed breeds of various sizes were monitored to determine the best age for neutering/spaying. The scientists looked at the rate of cancers, joint problems, and urinary incontinence at different neutering/spaying ages.

In the table below, we have picked the best neutering/spaying age that reduces many health problems recorded for each breed. You can also read the raw data through this link to get detailed findings.

NoDog BreedBest Male Neutering Age (Months)Best Female Spaying Age (Months)
1Australian Cattle Dog99
2Australian Shepherd99
3Beagle99
4Bernese Mountain Dog2412
5Border Collie1212
6Boston Terrier66
7Boxer99
8Bulldog66
9Cavalier King Charles Spaniel66
10Cavoodle sized dogs66
11Chihuahua66
12Cocker Spaniel99
13Collie99
14Corgi99
15Dachshund1212
16Doberman924
17English Springer Spaniel924
18German Shepherd1212
19Golden Retriever1212
20Great Dane99
21Irish Wolfhound99
22Jack Russell Terrier66
23Kelpie sized dogs99
24Labrador612
25Large breeds (other)1212
26Maltese66
27Miniature Schnauzer66
28Pomeranian66
29Toy Poodle66
30Miniature Poodle126
31Standard Poodle99
32Pug66
33Rottweiler1212
34St Bernard99
35Staffy sized dogs1212
36Sheltie624
37Shi Tzu66
38West Highland White Terrier612
39Yorkshire Terrier66

Key Take-Aways:

  • Small breeds suffer few or no known health problems after neutering/spaying.
  • Most medium-sized and large dog breeds benefit from a modest delay.
  • Giant dog breeds don’t appear to need late desexing.

Other Insights from the Evidence

From these studies, it is clear that early age desexing (EAD) increases the risk of joint diseases in some dog breeds. However, the argument regarding the risk of cancers is less certain.

According to scientists, hormones influence the normal development of joints in certain breeds. Once joints have fully grown, hormones shouldn’t make any significant difference.

One notable problem is that none of these observational studies was controlled for body weight. The desexed group is almost certainly heavier, and we all know that weight is a huge risk factor for hip dysplasia (HD) and cranial cruciate ligament disease (CCLD).

Pro Tip:

“As a dog owner, it’s important to control the weight of your neutered/spayed dog through diet and exercise to minimize the risk of overweight and the associated joint problems.”

Health Benefits of Spaying/Neutering your Dog

For a huge array of health reasons, desexed dogs often live longer than their intact counterparts. Here are some of the health benefits of desexing dogs:

  • Prevents dystocia – For female dogs, dystocia refers to difficulty during labor that can result in the death of the dam or puppies. It may also require an expensive and invasive cesarean section.
  • Prevents other health problems associated with breeding, such as Milk Fever
  • Prevents pyometra – Pyometra is an infection in the uterus. While surgery can save the life of your pet from this deadly condition, the procedure is generally complex and difficult and can cost you a fortune.
  • Prevents testicular tumors in male dogs
  • Reduces risks of prostatitis
  • Reduces risks of perineal hernias
  • Reduces incidences of perianal adenomas
  • Reduces risks of mammary (breast) cancer – The risk is significantly reduced if a female dog is spayed before her first season, but often increases with each season. Spaying your female after several seasons will unlikely benefit her in reducing the risk of mammary tumors.
  • Prevents hormone-associated alopecia (hair loss).

Potential Drawbacks of Spaying/Neutering Dogs

No balanced discussion on dog desexing would be complete without highlighting the potential drawbacks, and there are certainly a few of them. Common potential negative effects of spaying/neutering your dog include:

  • Increases risks of some tumors (most notably osteosarcoma in large breeds).
  • Increases risks of cruciate disease – especially when desexing is done early.
  • It can cause hormone-responsive incontinence in female dogs.
  • Desexing is often associated with weight gain, which can trigger conditions associated with high body weight such as pancreatitis.

Although there are no known legitimate medical reasons why a dog shouldn’t be desexed, it’s always important to consult with your vet before spaying or neutering your dog.

Anesthesia is generally safe for the vast majority of dogs. But some dogs have bleeding disorders such as Von Willebrand’s Disease. For such dogs, precautions must be taken to ensure there are no health complications from the procedure.

Behavioral Effects of Neutering/Spaying a Dog

Many dog owners often ask, “Will neutering change my dog’s behavior? Does neutering calm a male dog?”

The answer is YES, neutering might significantly change your dog’s behavior and calm your male dog.

Neutering often inhibits sexual behaviors, although your dog can still hump legs or mark urine for other reasons, such as anxiety. 

The effects of neutering on aggression are variable, with different studies giving conflicting determinations. 

While heightened testosterone is sometimes linked with aggression, reducing the testosterone level can actually cause reduced confidence. A pup with reduced confidence may actually be more aggressive!

However, neutering does reduce the aggression that is often seen specifically between entire male dogs. Some intact females can also develop aggression or show heightened aggression when they are in season. And this does not always fall back to baseline once the oestrus passes. 

Overall, the effect of neutering on behavior probably depends on the individual dog. So, unfortunately, it’s something that we can’t predict with any accuracy.


Dog Desexing Procedure

So, what is involved in desexing a dog? There are basically two ways to desex a dog: surgical desexing and chemical desexing – the most common methods being surgical desexing.

When a dog is desexed through a surgical means, it requires full anesthesia.

For female dog spaying, a qualified vet will surgically remove the entire reproductive system (the uterus or womb, ovaries, and fallopian tubes). It is also technically possible to “tie off the tubes” in female dogs, the same way it is done in women for birth control.

While this approach is effective in stopping the female from conceiving, it leaves behind the ovaries, so she will still come into heat and retain all the risks of mammary cancer. It also leaves behind the uterus with all the attendant risks of pyometra.

A better approach is to remove the entire reproductive organs by cutting through a small incision in the midline of her abdomen. Some vets can use laparoscopic surgery, but that always requires at least three abdominal incisions. In most cases, it results in larger incisions than the single incision that experienced surgeons require for conventional surgery.

Male dog neutering is a much simpler procedure. It is essentially a skin incision done to remove the testicles of your male dog. Most male dogs trot out of the clinic later that day as if nothing ever happened!

Chemical Desexing

Both male and female pups can be rendered temporarily infertile by medical means. There are various tablets that your vet can give to your female dog to delay or suppress heats. However, these pills are rarely used today since they have unwanted side effects and can cause diabetes. They can also interfere with future fertility if you plan to breed from your female dog.

Other than surgical neutering, there are hormonal implants available for male dogs known as Suprelorin (Virbac) that last either 6 months or 12 months. 

These implants can be costly, and there is a potential for some dogs to develop permanent infertility, so they are not recommended if you intend to breed from your dog in the future.


Common side effects of hormonal implants include occasional mild swellings at the implant site, which often resolves naturally. Overall, hormonal implants are not recommended for dogs that are yet to reach puberty.

Signs That a Dog Has Been Spayed/Neutered

Unfortunately, pups can’t tell you whether they were spayed or neutered before you brought them home. And even if they could speak, they won’t probably remember it since nowadays dogs are desexed at a very young age and under anesthesia.

However, there are some helpful clues that could help you figure out whether your pup has been spayed or neutered.

#1: Look for a Spay/Neuter Incision

For female dogs, spay surgery requires the female’s abdomen to be opened to remove the reproductive organs. In most cases, the dog will have stitches that might have been withdrawn or absorbed. Because of this surgical procedure, most spayed dogs will have a visible incision.

However, this incision may not always be easy to detect. It is generally quite small and difficult to see. If need be, you may need to shave your pup’s belly to see the scar. The scar is usually located in the dog’s ventral midline.

If you manage to see or feel an incision on your dog’s abdomen, it is safe to consider it a prior hernia or a cesarean surgery that both leave similar scars. It’s best to see a qualified vet for confirmation rather than end up with an accidental litter!

For male dogs, simply feel their scrotum for the presence of testicles. Neutering usually involves surgically removing the testicles to prevent semen production.

#2: Check for Secondary Sexual Traits

You will notice that a spayed dog’s mammary glands, vulva, and nipples are smaller as compared to those of intact, non-fixed females. However, there is no solid evidence that grants any accuracy to this size difference.

#3: Wait for a Heat

In most cases, you may just have to wait until your female dog displays signs of heat. Of course, before the heat period arrives, treat her with caution, as if she was intact.

Dogs generally go into heat every 6-7 months, but there are some exceptions, depending on the breed. For example, if you own a female Basenji, you may have to wait a whole year to see any signs of heat. These breeds get to heat only once every year, mostly in fall.

Again, you may need to consult your vet on this assumption since some spayed females still go on heat, especially if some ovarian tissue was left behind during the surgery. In such cases, the dog may still produce hormones that exhibit signs of being on heat.

#4: Investigate the Dog’s Medical Records

This may be a bit tough, especially if you don’t have any details about the previous owner. But if you know the name of your dog’s previous owner, you can try calling a few vet offices in their neighborhood to see if they still have the pet’s medical records.

While professional vets usually maintain client confidentiality, sometimes they can tell you if a dog was spayed or neutered provided they understand your dilemma. If your town requires licensing of dogs, you may also get help by calling your local city hall or animal control as they often record such information.

#5: Check for a Tattoo or Microchip

Dogs are sometimes tattooed for identification purposes. In most cases, their reproductive status is recorded along with their identity. Also, look out for any attached microchip as it often contains vital information about the dog, including whether the dog has been desexed.

However, you’ll need a universal reader, which is often available at your local vet or shelter. Fortunately, most shelters usually check for microchips before giving dogs up for adoption.

#6: Ask Your Vet for Hormonal Testing

Your vet may recommend hormonal testing options should a spay incision be hard to detect. In some cases, your vet may check for a specific hormone, or even analyze cells collected from the vaginal wall.

For example, it is possible to tell if a dog is spayed by measuring the level of luteinizing hormones present in the blood. A good percentage of spayed dogs have relatively high levels of this hormone in their blood, whilst intact animals have lower levels.

But, keep in mind that almost 22% of tested intact pups also have high levels of this hormone. The reason is that intact dogs undergo brief episodic upsurges in the luteinizing hormone concentrations.

Sometimes, vets inject a hormone and later on take blood samples to check for ovarian activity. While these hormonal tests are not fool-proof, they can together help provide a clearer picture of the fertility of your dog.

According to some clinical studies, hormonal tests can save your dog from undergoing exploratory surgery.

In general, hormonal tests can give some insights about your dog’s hormonal status. The tests include vaginal cytology sample (used to check for cornified epithelial cells that indicate estrogen stimulation), serum progesterone concentration, luteinizing hormone test, and anti-Müllerian hormone assay (used to measure Anti-Müllerian hormone, AMH).

#7: Ask for an Ultrasound

Although an ultrasound scan can provide insights on whether or not a dog was spayed, it can be challenging checking for pets that have been spayed but still have some ovarian tissues left behind. It can also be difficult to locate ovarian remnants anywhere in your dog’s abdomen even by the most experienced ultrasound operators.

#8: Exploratory Surgery

As a last resort, your vet may recommend exploratory surgery, especially for cases of a dog that was spayed and still has some ovarian tissue left behind. Such may be difficult to detect through ultrasound and may need a more “hands-on” approach to locate and remove.

As you can see, there are multiple ways to determine if your dog has been spayed or not. Your vet can employ a combination of these methods to get a good indication that your dog will not get pregnant and give birth. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine your pup’s reproductive status and never make any assumptions—they can end up costing you!

Dispelling the Myths about Spaying or Neutering Dogs


Myth #1 – Neutering Solves Aggression 

While it is true that neutering can in very rare occasions reduce aggression, temperament is inherited, and desexing alone may not reverse your dog’s aggression. You need to identify the underlying cause of aggression and manage the problem through proper training.

Myth #2 – Vets promote desexing because they want to make money


From the vets’ perspective, there is much more cash to be made through complex pyometra surgeries and cesarean than from routine desexing. If veterinarians wanted to cash more from pet owners, they would strongly oppose desexing and vaccinating. That way, your accidental litters and unvaccinated pups will create more opportunities to milk more money in care and treatment.

Myth #3 – Female dogs should have a litter before being spayed 


Breeders carefully select females that are to be bred from by focusing on particularly good physical attributes and temperament. Breeding a female dog with congenital faults or behavioral problems will only raise the number of unwanted dogs being euthanased. 

Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws in the US

Multiple states have fronted mandatory neuter/spay laws. However, there are currently NO state-enacted laws that require all pet owners to neuter their animals. Rhode Island is perhaps the only state that has adopted legislation which requires cat owners to spay or neuter their pets unless:

  • The caretaker holds a breeding permit.
  • The pet has been adopted and the caretaker will be neutering/spaying the animal pursuant to an agreement with the adopting agency.
  • Due to the pet’s health, a veterinarian has determined that it would be inappropriate to neuter the animal.

The inability of state legislatures to pass mandatory neuter/spay laws has, however, not precluded city and other local governments from proposing and adopting their mandatory spay/neuter ordinances.

In 2008, Los Angeles County signed into law one of the country’s toughest legislation on pet desexing, requiring most dogs and cats to be neutered or spayed by the time they are 4 months old. Through the ordinance, the county aims to reduce and eventually eliminate the thousands of euthanizations carried out in Los Angeles’ animal shelters each year.

However, the ordinance does exempt certain pets, including guide dogs, pets used in police agencies, those that have competed in shows or sporting competitions, and those belonging to professional breeders. All average pet owners must have their dogs or cats spayed or neutered by the time they reach 4 months of age (or latest 6 months with a letter from a vet).

Owners with older unneutered pets as well as newcomers to the city with pets are also required to comply with the ordinance.

In terms of penalties, first-time offenders will get information on subsidized desexing services and be allowed an additional 60 days to comply. Afterward, failure to comply will attract a fine of $100 and an order to serve eight hours of community service. Any subsequent offense could result in a fine of $500 or 40 hours of community service. Currently, about a dozen Los Angeles neighbors have enacted similar laws.

Note that pet owners and individuals with a breeder, animal handler, or fancier permits, and animals qualifying for temporary or permanent medical exemptions are not required to comply with the ordinance.

While only a few cities have passed mandatory neuter/spay laws for pet owners, many states have enacted statutes that require the desexing of pound or shelter pets prior to release. Additionally, many state statutes and city ordinances require higher licensing fees for intact animals and mandatory desexing for vicious or dangerous dogs.

Some states also require a monetary deposit to ensure future sterilization, and many of the states provide for certain exceptions.

Exceptions for Health Reasons 

There are certain medical cases, particularly in dogs, where sterilization should be delayed until the pet is older to avoid heightening the risk of certain health problems. 

Desexing can cause some pets to put on more weight and become heavier. Early desexing, in particular, produces larger animals which can trigger cranial cruciate ligament disease and hip dysplasia in dogs. 

With a letter from your vet, you can be exempted from early sterilization until a later date as recommended by the vet.


Female Dog Reproductive Cycles



It is very possible for a single female dog and her offspring to produce about 20,000 puppies in just five years. That’s an indication of how productive a female dog is, which is why spaying is critical.

If a female dog is spayed, she cannot conceive or give birth to puppies. However, a female dog must first come “on heat” or “into season” before she is mated.

In between heats, the female experiences reproductive inactivity, and she won’t be sexually receptive to males. During this period, blood flow to her reproductive organs is minimal and hormone levels are at their lowest.

As the female is about to come into heat, her body releases massive surges of hormones, which can often affect her temperament – just like PMS can in some women!


In the early stages of coming on heat, the female bleeds from her vulva and becomes very attractive to male dogs. It is surprising that a male dog can scent a female on heat from several miles away.

Multiple male dogs will soon be lining up at your yard wanting to present their credentials to your girl. In the early and later stages of her 3-week long heat, the female will not be that keen on male dogs. But during the middle week up to 10 days of the heat, she will become as amorous as the males, and it is at this point that she is most at risk of getting pregnant.


For the entire period that the female comes on heat, there are massive changes to her body’s development. The high hormone surges in the bloodstream will stimulate the ovaries to mature and release eggs. The activity in the uterus (womb), as well as the mammary (breast) tissue, will be massive, readying both for potential fetus implantation and milk production.


False Pregnancies in Female Dogs

As soon as the signs of the heat vanish, virtually every female will exhibit some degree of “false pregnancy” even if she was not mated. The false pregnancy may be mild and difficult to notice, but the hormones associated with coming on heat would have prepared her uterus and mammary tissues for pregnancy and lactation. 

Some female dogs, especially those that are well cherished, can have a full-on false pregnancy and begin to make milk, make nests, or steal slippers and soft toys as “false puppies.” They can with all intent rear a litter of soft toys, with some even going into false labor.

This false pregnancy can be extremely distressing to both the owner and the dog herself. At the end of the false pregnancy, her hormone levels wane, causing the mammary and reproductive tissues to become less active until her next reproductive cycle.


Male Dog Reproductive Activity

Although male dogs do not have a reproductive cycle parse, they often have varying levels of hormones in response to the presence of a potential mate. When your male dog scents a female on heat nearby, his body will release more hormones to stimulate the production of more sperm.

These hormones also bombard his prostate, making the organ bigger as well. The principal hormone in a male dog is testosterone, which is also responsible for his body changes and can affect his temperament.


Both male and female dogs mature to the point of engaging in sexual activity at about 6-12 months. As a rule of thumb, smaller breeds enter “puberty” at an earlier age as compared to larger breeds.

Caring for a Neutered/Spayed Dog

Dogs are usually desexed under a general anesthetic. While desexing is a fairly common and safe procedure, keep in mind that the process is surgical. Spaying female dogs, in particular, involves massive intra-abdominal surgery.

Your pup’s recovery will largely depend on the aftercare you provide, so it is important that you make them feel as comfortable as possible through this healing process. With the right aftercare, your dog should remain safe and comfortable and minimize the risks of infections or other health issues arising.

a- Anesthetic

The anesthetic administered to your dog during desexing will typically not wear off until a few hours after the procedure, and it can sometimes last overnight. However, if your pooch is still drowsy and lethargic 24 hours after the surgery, please contact your vet immediately for a follow-up checkup.

b- Surgical Site

For both male and female dogs that have just been desexed, you must continue inspecting their wound every day for the next 10-14 days. Look out for discharges, missing sutures, or swelling and notify your vet if any of these issues occurs.

If your vet used dissolvable skin sutures, your pet won’t need suture removal. Either way, they will require a vet checkup after 10-14 days to ensure that the wound is healing well. This is often a free appointment that you can book anytime.

c- Caring for the Wound

Some dogs will constantly leak their wounds, which can cause further damage. To prevent your dog from irritating their wound or chewing through their sutures, you should get a ‘BENCMATE Protective Inflatable Collar’.

Do not bathe your dog or wet the surgical site in any way for 10-14 days after the surgery as this can cause problems and delay the healing.


d- Food and Water

After the surgery, your dog is free to eat and drink as normal. However, some dogs may experience nausea and a loss of appetite due to the anesthesia and other medications used in the surgery. If your pooch is vomiting or refusing to eat as usual, please consult your vet.

e- Rest and Exercise

After your dog is desexed, encourage them to rest as much as possible to speed up their healing process. This is the time to limit exercise and avoid any strenuous activities such as climbing stairs, rough play, or jumping up and down couches or beds.

Some pets may need to be restricted within a small room or crate so they do not strain their wound.

You may take your pup outside for short walks while on a lead, but try to limit such to toilet trips only.

f- Warning Signs to Look Out For:

Call your vet immediately for advice if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Swelling or bleeding around the wound area.
  • Your dog is constantly licking the wound, or the wound appears red and angry.
  • Your dog is not responding to treatment as you anticipated.
  • You need to bathe your pet or treat them for fleas before the stitches are removed.
  • You have any concerns about your dog’s health after desexing.

How to Prevent Unhealthy Weight Gain after Spaying/Neutering

A common fallacy is that a desexed dog gets fat and lazy. The truth is, a desexed dog has lower energy requirements. They make more efficient use of their food since the food is not diverted into hormone production, neither is it utilized in growing the uterus and mammary tissues and all other heat-related activities in females.


So, don’t continue to feed the same quantity of food as you did prior to spaying. She will store away the extra food as fat. The same applies to every pet as it matures. The daily energy requirements will gradually drop and, unless you lower their energy intake, they will certainly grow fat and develop joint-related issues.

How Much Does it Cost to Spay or Neuter a Dog?

It typically costs between $35-$400 to spay or neuter a dog. The wide pricing disparity is because there are multiple low-cost clinics in every state, but “regular” vets will typically charge you more.

Generally, spaying a female dog is more expensive than neutering a male dog. This is because a spay procedure is much more elaborate and complicated.

If your dog has preexisting health conditions, is undergoing heat, or requires extra blood testing before the procedure, the cost can get as high as $600 — this, however, is not typical.

Regardless of the cost, it is important to have your pooch spayed or neutered to help mitigate the skyrocketing stray dog population and prevent potential health problems later on.

So, what goes into the cost to neuter or spay a dog? Below, we’ve sniffed out all the hidden charges and fetched helpful tips to help you make some savings while ensuring that your new companion is ready for a lifetime of good health right off the bat.

What Should Be Included in the Cost to Spay or Neuter a Dog

Obviously, the cost of spaying or neutering a dog includes the operation itself. Other cost parameters include a full physical exam, the cost of anesthesia, any blood work or monitoring required, and pain medications prescribed after the procedure.

Specific cost elements can vary from one vet to the other. Low-cost clinics typically don’t offer full exams or blood work, which brings down the cost of spaying or neutering.

If you opt for a full-cost clinic, your pup will be put on anesthetic monitoring equipment (blood pressure, pulse rate, oxygen stats, etc) and closely monitored throughout the procedure (someone will always be with them) until he/she is standing up. As a result, the cost of the procedure can rise significantly.

While spay and neuter procedures are the same in all clinics, the price rarely is. Other than the type of clinic, the cost of spaying or neutering will also depend on the size of your dog. The cost of neutering or spaying a Chihuahua will generally be much less than the cost of spaying or neutering a St. Bernard.

A larger dog breed will typically require more anesthesia, which bumps up the price of the operation. Moreover, the larger the dog, the longer the surgical procedure!

Additional Costs of Neutering/Spaying a Dog

Generally, the current health condition of your pup and his/her size will greatly determine the cost of spaying or neutering. Each procedure runs on a case by case basis.

Typically, older dogs with more developed reproductive organs will require more detailed surgery, which raises the cost. That’s why many dog owners take their pups for spaying/neutering at an early age to cut down on the cost.

Knowing your dog’s specific needs before going in for surgery can alleviate the stress of receiving unexpected charges.

Luckily, many reputable clinics offer pre-consultations and evaluations to determine what the procedure will require. This provides a great opportunity for you to get comfortable with the surgeon who will be operating on your precious pet.

Also, note that if your dog is on heat or pregnant at the time of spaying, the cost can shoot up to $50-$150. Exceedingly obese pups may also require more equipment to safely complete the operation, which can shoot up the price immensely. If your vet prescribes extra pain medications, the price can increase by as much as $10-$30.

How to Find Low-Cost Neuter or Spay Clinics

There are lots of low-cost spay and neuter clinics throughout the country. Most of them offer the same level of service provided by privately owned vet offices but at a fraction of the price.

However, there may be a difference in the personal one-on-one care of your pet and anesthetic monitoring.

You can check online to locate low-cost services in your area since many of them promote their services online to reduce the number of strays. Another useful place to check is your local Humane Society’s web page.

A local animal shelter may also provide you with reliable references as they rarely refer dog owners to privately owned veterinary offices. Like shelters, low-cost spay clinics often provided subsidized services with part of the cost covered by local governments and other non-profit organizations seeking to help dog owners curb overpopulation problems.

Once you’ve settled on a clinic, be sure to take a tour around the clinic and ask as many questions as you can to help ease any concerns about the whole process of neutering or spaying.

A trustworthy vet should be happy to show you around their clinic and answer any questions you might have regarding their methods.

In particular, make sure you ask about their anesthesia admission and monitoring techniques. Most veterinarians will have the same process and should be able to advise you if your pup has a high or low-risk application profile.

Below, we have compiled a list of places to start your search for a trustworthy low-cost spay/neuter clinic.

Key Differences between Discount and Regular Spay/Neuter Clinics

As mentioned before, “regular” neuter/spay clinics are privately owned vet practices, whereas discount clinics offer almost the same services but at subsidized costs by either governmental or non-profit agencies.

Here are other key differences between “regular” and discount neuter/spay clinics:

  • Discount clinics typically don’t offer pre-exam blood work, vital signs, body temperature, and blood pressure monitoring, and supportive IV fluid therapy.
  • Vets at discount clinics typically have a much higher volume of operations per day.
  • Discount clinics don’t offer routine care — just neuter/spay operation.
  • Some discount clinics may not offer inhalant anesthesia, which is the most common anesthetic option among vets.

Whether you decide to go with a private vet or a low-cost clinic, it’s essential to know what your furry friend will be receiving as a patient.

Ask At Adoption!

Most shelters require dogs to be spayed before they’re given out for adoption. This helps you alleviate the problem of searching for a clinic to go with, and the cost of neutering or spaying is often included in the adoption fee.

Some adoption centers have their own vet on staff, while others usually contract out to a preferred clinic. This process is commonly referred to as “Ask At Adoption.”

Ultimately, it’s completely up to you as the dog owner to choose which clinic to go with. Both low-cost and regular clinics have their perks. A little research will help you choose what will work best for your specific pup and situation.

Desexing Dogs FAQs:

How do I know if my dog is spayed?

A dog who has been fixed or spayed has gone through a surgical procedure known as ovariohysterectomy. This means that the entire reproductive tract of the female dog has been removed, including her ovaries, uterus, oviducts, and uterine horns.

A spayed dog cannot, therefore, get pregnant or experience twice-a-year heat cycles (once a year for certain breeds) that are triggered by hormones.

If you don’t know whether your dog has been spayed or not, there are certain clues that could help you unearth the truth. They include:

  • A spay incision
  • Absence of heat cycles
  • Smaller secondary sexual traits
  • Medical records
  • Information on her tattoo or microchip
  • Ultrasound scans
  • Hormonal tests
  • Exploratory Surgery

Always consult your vet to get accurate information on whether or not your dog has been spayed. Vets, of course, would be more experienced in detecting these signs and deciding on which tests may be most accurate.

At what age should you spay a dog?


Generally, it is advisable to spay a female dog before puberty (around 6 months of age). This eliminates the problems of cautiously watching a female in season and reduces the risk of unwanted pregnancies. However, vets often recommend allowing a female dog to experience one heat season before spaying to reduce risks of perivulval dermatitis when they turn into adults.

What is the right age to neuter a dog?


For male dogs, while the traditional age for neutering is 6-9 months, puppies as young as eight weeks old can be safely neutered as long as they’re healthy. There is, however, an exception for large breeds that often have orthopedic joint problems – neutering should wait until the dog has reached skeleton maturity.

Do dogs change after being desexed?


Both male and female dogs that are desexed often have a more relaxed temperament since they are not as driven by their hormones. However, you can expect your pet to remain as loving and loyal as before. The most common behavioral change after desexing is reduced aggression.

What do they do when Desexing a female dog?

The procedure for spaying female dogs involves the removal of the dog’s uterus and ovaries. Since it’s a major surgical procedure, spaying is done under full anesthesia and requires hospitalization.

Why you shouldn’t neuter your dog?

Some studies indicate that male dogs who are neutered have an increased risk of developing other orthopedic diseases. The potential for cruciate rupture and hip dysplasia rises when a male dog is not allowed adequate time to fully hormonally grow and develop healthy bones. Neutering male dogs may also increase the risk of cardiac hemangiosarcoma.

What happens if you don’t neuter your dog?

Failure to neuter your dog means that they will produce excessive testosterone, which can trigger aggressive tendencies, especially if your male pooch is alpha in nature. Excessive testosterone levels can be dangerous for any domesticated pet.


In Summary


Overall, neutering or spaying dogs that are not meant for breeding will give them a greater chance of living a longer and healthier life. Your desexed dog will not be distracted by the entire breeding cycle, will be at their best behavior, and will integrate more easily into your household.

The best age to desex a dog is at SIX months, and a quick day in the hospital will give your furry friend a lifetime of health and behavioral benefits. Be cautious, however, with large breeds, and always consult your vet to determine the right age for neutering/spaying.

Leave a Comment