What to Know about Spaying or Neutering Your Dog

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As a dog owner, you are responsible for ensuring your dogs’ health, safety, and surroundings. Though it is natural for your unspayed/unneutered dog to have sexual urges, and as a dog owner, you may question it humane to spay or neuter your dog? It is controversial for some dog owners; Veterinarians often recommend owners to spay and neuter (otherwise known as “fixing”) their dogs within 6-9 months, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). It is also mandatory in some counties and states to have your dog neutered or spayed by a certain age. Why? To prevent overpopulation, prevent pregnancies, and unwarranted or harmful behavior. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) explains that neuter/spay laws across the country have certain exemptions and requirements for dog owners regarding neutering or spaying pets. For example, in Los Angeles county, pets must be spayed or neutered between 4 to 6 months old. This mandate excludes “owners and individuals with breeder, animal handler, or fancier permits, and pets qualifying for a temporary or permanent medical exemption.” Owners can be fined up to $500 for not complying with the mandate in the city of Los Angeles. So how do you know if spaying or neutering your dog is right for them? What exempts them? Why is it important to do so as a dog owner?

What Does “In Heat” Mean?

For new pet owners, you may have never heard the term “in heat.” When a female dog (or cat) is essentially on their period, they are ready to breed and are looking to mate with another. This behavior can start as soon as four months for some dogs. Indicators for if your female dog is “in heat” is the difference in their behavior. Hills Pets advises female dog owners to keep an eye on their dogs. Please don’t leave her unattended or outside without supervision to ensure no unneutered dogs can sense that she’s in heat and cause an unexpected pregnancy. They also note that they can become aggressive for some dogs if they sense a female dog is in heat. Your dog will also experience bleeding, which can lead to unwanted stains around the household. Consider spaying your dog if you don’t intend to breed or have an unwanted litter of puppies, have your dog endure going into heat, unwanted attention from unneutered male dogs, or want to reap the health benefits of spaying. 

Is it Bad to Not Spay or Neuter a Dog?

Not spaying or neutering your dog can be perceived as irresponsible as it can become a danger to other dogs due to your dog’s sexual excitement or costly if your dog becomes pregnant with a litter. According to the ASPCA for WebMD, neutering prevents female dogs from going into heat. It can prevent your male dogs from becoming aggressive as they are trying to mate. According to The Humane Society, Unneutered male dogs will roam away from home to mate with other unspayed dogs, so it is important to keep account of your dogs if they are not neutered or spayed. Unspayed female dogs release a pheromone that attracts male dogs. Unneutered dogs can display aggressive behavior such as fighting other dogs, unwarranted barking and mounting. 

What are the Medical Benefits?

For female dogs, it can help with their longevity of life. According to the ASPCA, it prevents any cases of urinary infection or breast cancer. Both can be fatal in 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. While for male dogs, neutering can help prevent testicular cancer and issues with their prostate. In a study, the Humane Society explained that “the life expectancy of neutered male dogs was 13.8% longer and that of spayed female dogs was 26.3% longer.” 

When is it Appropriate to Spay/Neuter a Dog?

As a dog owner, it is best to ask your veterinarian if spaying or neutering your dog will benefit their health. By contacting your veterinarian, they can help determine when is the appropriate time to spay/neuter your dog and advise you on any precautions to make a note of before the procedure. The Humane Society recommends spaying your female and small male dogs before five months of age. Large male dogs have two recommendations for when to fix male dogs; if they are used to roaming around freely, your dog should be neutered before they are five months old. Otherwise, wait for them to finish growing, which is when they’ll be about 12-15 months old before neutering. Shelter pets are expected to be fixed as soon as they are six weeks old.

Is it Expensive to Spay/Neuter a Dog?

The cost of spaying or neutering your dog can vary, according to Dr. Debra Primovic, DVM for Pet Place. Spaying a female dog is more expensive. It can cost about $65-600. than neutering a male dog, which can cost about $45-400. The price depends on location, where the procedure is received (low-cost clinic vs. veterinary office), etc. PetSmart Charities has a search for low-cost clinics by area if you are looking for reduced costs for fixing your dog. 

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