Spaying and neutering are routine surgical procedures that involve removing a puppy’s reproductive organs. In addition to preventing pregnancy, puppy spaying and neutering also offer significant health benefits that can help improve a dog’s quality of life.
Puppy Spaying and Neutering: When Is the Best Time?
The general recommendation for spaying a female puppy is before her first heat cycle (around six months old). Vets also recommend male puppies get neutered before or around six months. The procedure may be routine, but it’s still surgery. It tends to be easier on younger dogs.
Health Benefits of a Spay or Neuter Surgery
One of the main benefits of puppy spaying and neutering is preventing pregnancy. The procedures also provide several significant benefits:
Reproductive hormones heavily influence the development of mammary tumors in female dogs. They’re some of the most commonly diagnosed tumors in dogs that aren’t spayed (intact). Roughly 50% of them are non-cancerous, but the other 50% are. Those malignant tumors can metastasize (spread cancer to other parts of the body).
Compared to intact females, puppies spayed before their first heat cycle have a 0.5% chance of developing mammary tumors. Delaying the procedure increases their risk. For instance, a female dog spayed after one heat cycle has an 8% chance of developing a tumor, while a dog spayed after her second cycle has a 26% chance. Spay surgery also eliminates the risk of pyometra, a potentially life-threatening uterine infection that requires emergency surgery.
For male dogs, neutering eliminates the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate). It’s the most common prostatic disorder in intact males (affecting more than 95% of non-neutered dogs). The surgical procedure also reduces a male dog’s risk of developing perianal adenomas or tumors around the rectum.
Puppy Care After a Spay or Neuter
Following a spay or neuter, pet parents can expect their puppy to be a bit groggy. That’s the anesthesia wearing off. If a puppy is excessively lethargic or becomes unresponsive, pet parents should contact a vet immediately.
Pet parents should monitor the surgical site closely. Any redness, swelling, or discharge can indicate an infection. They should limit their puppy’s activity and avoid baths for approximately two weeks. It may be helpful to take a photo of the incision as soon as you get home from the surgery so that you have something to compare the location to while it heals.
For female dogs, spotting right after spay surgery is common. However, pet parents should contact a vet right away if they notice excessive bleeding or spotting that lasts more than two days. You can always check the color of your pet’s gums to see if they are white or pale pink, which is a possible indication of a surgical complication. In most cases, both males and females are considered to be healed enough inside and out for normal activity after 10-14 days. A pet parent should keep their puppy on a leash (even in their own yard) and avoid the dog park for a little while too, during the healing time.
I also recommend KeraVet Gel, especially instead of a cone or e-collar, because not only will it deter your puppy for licking or biting the surgical site but it also provides a moist wound bed for the cells that helps to repair the broken skin to move in efficiently – helping the wound to heal faster. The gel can stop being applied after seven days for most pets.
Protect a Dog’s Health Starting Early in Life
Puppy spaying and neutering are common, simple procedures that offer numerous significant health benefits. While no pet parent likes to see their dogs in pain, the discomfort after a spay or neuter is short-lived. It’s also well worth it for improving the quality of their dog’s life in the long run.
Learn more about KeraVet Bio Lead Medical Advisor, , Dr. Cherice Roth, MS, DVM, by visiting her on LinkedIn.