For a huge array of health reasons, desexed dogs often live longer than their intact counterparts. However, the dsexing must be done at the right age of six months or earlier. Overall, here are some of the health benefits of neutering a male dog and spaying a female dog:
- 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. First, the cost of spaying or neutering a dog may not always be affordable for many dog owners. Other common potential negative effects of spaying/neutering your dog include:
- Increases risks of some tumors (most notably osteosarcoma in large dog breeds).
- Increases risks of cruciate disease – especially when desexing is done early.
- It can cause hormone-responsive incontinence in spayed 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. Also, remember that some states and municipalities have mandatory spay/neuter laws that you must adhere to. So, it may not always be you shot to call!