Spaying or neutering your dog is important. There are many benefits to the process, even for older dogs, and in this article we will explain in more detail what spaying and neutering consist of, the benefits, and why it is still a good idea even if your dog is older (with some exceptions, which we will go into later!). So, when is it too late to neuter a dog? Let’s discuss the process and we will build on the information for there so that you will not only know the answer but you’ll have cold, hard data to back it!
The importance of getting your dog spayed or neutered
There is a reason that rescue shelters always spay and neuter a dog before you take them home. Aside from preventing unwanted puppies the benefits of these procedures include:
- Behavioral bonuses – Spayed females and neutered dogs are much less likely to roam. Neutering also reduces aggression in male dogs and can help to reduce marking behaviors and ‘humping’ behaviors.
- Reduces a number of health risks – Spaying reduces your dog’s chance of developing mammary tumors and a type of life-threatening infection known as Pyometra. For males neutering can reduce the chances of prostate disease and remove the chance of testiculular cancer.
Now, neutering a dog too EARLY can have some side-effects that you may want to consider. Let’s discuss how age factors in.
What age should this be done?
Now, we teased you a little by mentioning a side-effect of early neutering. That side effect occurs when your dog is neutered before puberty and displays as insecurity and shyness in their behavior. This is a by-product of not having a little time to mature before getting neutered. As far as spaying, you typically want to have your dog spayed before their first ‘heat’ cycle, but this can occur as early as 5 months and so it can be a little hard to determine exactly the right time. The best thing to do is to check with your vet so that they may examine your specific dog to make a judgment call with all of the important developmental factors in mind.
What exactly do the procedures involve?
Neutering is more commonly known as castration and it involves the removal of your dog’s testicles. Under anesthesia an incision isw made in your dog’s scrotum and the testicles are removed. For spaying, it is a little more complicated. This procedure is known as a Ovariohysterectomy and it involves removing both ovaries and your dog’s uterus. This is more complicated than the neutering surgery but both procedures are common and safe for your dog.
How long does it take my dog to recover from spaying or neutering?
Recovery time varies by gender and the age of your dog (older dogs may require Veterinary supervision for a day or two, we’ll explain more later!). For male dogs a typical neutering session means that your dog will be coming home with you on the same day as your visit, along with prescriptions from your Vet for handling any pain that your dog might suffer from the procedure. The incision should heal quickly (generally within a few days) but your doctor will likely schedule a follow-up just to ensure that everything is perfect. As far as female dogs, as the surgery is a little more complicated your Vet may require an overnight stay for monitoring but in most cases a female dog can go home on the same day as the procedure. As with the male dog, your female dog will have a number of prescriptions which your doctor will recommend to hasten healing and to diminish or eliminate any pain associated with the procedure. Spaying has a longer recovery time, averaging in at 7 to 10 days following your appointment, and your Vet will likely schedule a follow-up in this case as well. If you are worried about either procedure, try to relax… Spaying and neutering are beneficial and very common procedures. Your dog is going to be just fine!
Should older dogs be spayed or neutered?
Now that we have discussed the finer points we can properly address the question about older dogs. Should older dogs be neutered or spayed? When is it too late? Well, we are happy to inform you that it is pretty much NEVER too late for these procedures, with one exception. That exception is this: Get a thorough exam from your Veterinarian first. That’s all. Your vet will be able to determine that the procedure will be safe and the good news of neutering or spaying an older dog is that they can get all of
“a process of combining small doses of multiple medications”
the benefits with a minimal dose of the sides. As far as differences in the procedure, typically with an older dog the process is going to involve what is called ‘balanced anesthesia’, which is a fancy way of describing a process of combining small doses of multiple medications in order to achieve the best effects with minimal side-effects. Think of it as a slower, measured approach. In both cases, a single incision is made for the procedure and typically dissolving stitches are used so that removal at a later date is not required. Your vet may also prescribe a collar to help to keep your dog from worrying the surgical site but aside from this the antibiotics and pain medication the procedure should be relatively quick to perform and to recover from.
Some final words
In today’s article we have explored the question ‘when is it too late to neuter a dog?’ so that you can understand the benefits of spaying, neutering, and why these procedures are still a good idea for a dog in their golden years. There are a number of benefits to the procedure beyond the prevention of ‘surprise puppies’, so if you have an older dog at home who has not gone through with the procedure you should consider an appointment with the vet. You’ll be happy that you did!