When To Spay A Dog

Many pet owners wonder when to spay a dog or a new puppy. Spaying has been long been an important consideration for responsible pet owners concerned with pet overpopulation. While education has led to an understanding of the spaying or sterilization need and process, many pet owners find themselves facing conflicting and confusing information about when a dog or puppy should be spayed at the various points of her life. When should you spay a dog or new puppy? There are various times and stages at which a female dog should be spayed.

How are you to know when should you spay your dog during her various life stages?

  1. When should you spay a new puppy? Veterinarians are sometimes divided on this question, leading to confusion and pet owner concerns. It was once believed that a dog should not be spayed prior to her first birthday. Later, a six month old puppy was considered to be the proper age for sterilization. Today, it is common practice for animal shelters and humane organizations to spay new puppies at the ripe old age of two months or two pounds! Bear in mind that many private veterinarians may not support this Early Age sterilization and will lean toward sterilization only after a puppy reaches six to twelve months old. Remember, however, that puppies may be able to conceive a first litter of offspring as early as five months old, so if you are waiting to alter your dog, be sure to shield her from males once her heat cycle begins.
  2. When should you spay an adult dog? If adopting a dog from an animal shelter, she is likely already altered—unless she is carrying a litter of puppies. If you have adopted a stray or have taken in an older dog from another source, you may be wondering when to have her spayed safely. As noted above, if your dog is over a year old, she may be spayed at any time—provided that she is not pregnant, nursing or in a poor state of health that would make surgery unwise. Discuss the animal’s health with your veterinarian and be sure that she is not already pregnant prior to scheduling the spay surgery.
  3. How soon can a mother dog be spayed? If a dog has recently delivered puppies, it is necessary to wean those puppies prior to spaying the mother. Like humans, dogs can become pregnant while nursing, so it is important to prevent contact with males while a new mother dog is weaning her puppies.
  4. When should you spay a house dog—or should you? Unfortunately, many pet owners fail to spay or neuter dogs confined to the home. However, there are a number of instances where these dogs may come in contact with other animals at the local dog park or kennel and risk an unwanted pregnancy. House dog owners should follow the guidelines established for puppies or adult dogs—but, should certainly not diminish the risk of pregnancy nor ignore the benefits of spaying to the long term health of the dog simply because the dog has a lessened risk for pregnancy.
  5. Should your senior dog be spayed? Whether you have been the proud parent of an aging dog since puppy hood or have just adopted the pet, spaying a senior has both benefits and risks that should not be ignored. If your senior dog is healthy and able to withstand the surgery, benefits such as a reduced risk of ovarian infections, reproductive cysts or mammary gland infections or conditions, in addition to avoiding a potentially life threatening pregnancy, make an elective altering worthwhile. Be sure, however, to discuss your pet’s health history and have appropriate risk screenings considered prior to proceeding with any elective surgical procedure. As with any adult female dog, it is important to ensure that she is not pregnant or lactating prior to scheduling a surgery.

It is important to develop a trusted relationship with your veterinarian. At some stages of your pet’s life, there are more surgical risks than others. Be sure that you discuss and understand your pet’s health and her risks or benefits to any procedure.

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