Is Sterilization Good for Dogs?
Thousands of dogs are abandoned every year. Some of them were raised by private individuals who did not know what to do with newborn puppies, and eventually decided to get rid of them. Many people are unaware of the possibility of sterilization of dogs, or know there is that possibility but ignore the benefits of sterilization. The sterilization of dogs is one of the most effective ways of preventing pregnancy in females, making the pets´ abandonment rate decrease. Furthermore, the benefits of sterilization are widely recognized by most vets worldwide; sterilization of dogs is therefore considered a highly beneficial procedure for dogs´ health.
If you want to find out why sterilization is good for dogs, keep reading this OneHowTo.com article where we explain what this process entails, as well as the benefits of sterilization.
Neutering vs. Sterilization
Sterilization of dogs is a different procedure to neutering (castration for males, spaying for females), so we will first explain the differences between those two interventions. After that, we will explain the benefits of sterilization and neutering. Both of them aim at preventing pregnancy and can be carried out in both males and females.
Neutering is the chirurgical removal of the animal´s reproductive organ. As a consequence, hormone production also ceases. In addition to preventing pregnancy, the benefits of neutering include the disappearance of females‘ heats and the decrease in certain behaviors such as territorial aggression and the need to mate. When carried out in males, it entails the removal of the testes, and is known as castration. On the other hand, females’ neutering can entail two different procedures: the removal of the ovaries, known as ovariectomy, or the removal of both the ovaries and the uterus, known as ovariohysterectomy.
Sterilization of dogs does not entail the removal of the animal´s sexual organs. Pregnancies are avoided through two methods:
- Vasectomy. Used in males, it consists of cutting the vas deferens, which is the tube that carries sperm from the testicles to the urethra.
- Tubal ligation. It is a surgical procedure performed on females; it aims at closing the fallopian tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus.
One of the main benefits of sterilization is that hormone levels are not altered by such procedure, so there is no behavioral change. The animal keeps its mating instinct, and can show behaviors that are typical of dogs that have not been sterilized. Currently, sterilization of dogs is mandatory in most of the shelters where abandoned dogs are taken care of. In the case of puppies, they are sterilized when they are a few months old.
The best age to sterilize a dog
You might ask yourself what is the best age to neuter or sterilize a dog. It is usually recommended to carry out either intervention starting from 6 months of age, although there might be cases in which it is better to wait until the dog reaches full maturity. It is very important to consult the vet to receive information about sterilization of dogs of general, and find out what is the best age for your dog to undergo the procedure, taking into account the specific circumstances surrounding your dog´s health.
Sterilization of dogs is a minimally invasive surgery; pets normally recover in the following 24 to 48 hours, with very little postoperative care. The benefits of sterilization far outweigh its risks. A signal to watch for after sterilization is pain. Your dog should feel little or no pain in the 48 hours following the surgery (lack of appetite, on the other hand, is a common and normal reaction). If you feel that your dog is in excessive pain, it is advisable to call the vet, who will probably prescribe a painkiller. Never give your dog painkillers for humans, as they might be dangerous for them. In this article we explain how to take care of a recently sterilized dog.
The benefits of sterilization for dogs
- A longer life for your pet. In males, one of the benefits of sterilization is the prevention of testicular cancer, as well as diseases such as leukemia and immunodeficiency. In females, such procedure prevents infections in the uterus, as well as breast and uterine cancer. Moreover, it makes heats and phantom pregnancies disappear.
- Improves behavior. Females´ heats often lead to fights amongst males and increase the risk of female dogs escaping to mate. The benefits of sterilization include the cease of both menstruations and the consequent males‘ aggressive behaviors.
- Birth control. Sterilization of dogs prevents females from getting pregnant and males from making females’ pregnant. It therefore contributes to making the number of abandoned dogs decrease. Some dog owners do not purposefully try to get their female pets pregnant, but their lack of attention may lead to a male mounting their dogs anytime. Therefore, dogs may become pregnant without the owner being aware. One of the benefits of the sterilization of dogs is that the dog owners are more in control when it comes to unexpected pregnancies.
- Prevents overpopulation. Sterilization of dogs prevents females from becoming pregnant and males from making females pregnant, contributing to the decrease in the number of abandoned dogs in the streets and in dog shelters. Sometimes, dog shelters are forced to put dogs down due to lack of capacity and overcrowdedness. Less abandoned dogs is definitely one of the benefits of sterilization.
Benefits of sterilization for dog owners
The benefits of sterilization are not for the dog only; it has some advantages for the owner as well. For example:
- Sterilization of dogs prevents females from staining the floor when on heat, i.e. twice a year for several days.
- The risk that your pet becomes ill decreases, which is especially true for cancers. That will also allow you to save money on vets. However, bear in mind that sterilizing your dog does not mean that you no longer have to go to the vet for regular check ups.
- One of the benefits of sterilization is that it prevents your dog from having aggressive behaviors because of their need to mate or because of territoriality.
- Through the sterilization of dogs, you will eliminate the possibility of unwanted litters and avoid abandonment. Imagine that suddenly you realize that your dog is pregnant, and you are not able to care for the puppies, what would you do?
- It is cheaper. One of the benefits of sterilization is its cost effectiveness. Although we must be aware that owing a dog requires some extra spending for maintenance, sterilization of dogs is considerably cheaper than raising a number of puppies. It also reduces the chances of a dog escaping and suffering from an accident, or getting hurt in a fight with another dog. Moreover, in most countries, sterilization of dogs mean lower license fees.
False information on sterilization
It is common to hear myths and beliefs about sterilization of dogs. Below we talk about the most popular ones, some of which are false:
- Sterilized dogs are more likely to put on weight. Sterilization of dogs does not increase their chances of putting on weight. It is important that your pet continues to exercise and that you feed it according to its physical needs, age and sex.
- Changes of behavior. This is actually one of the benefits of sterilization. Females cease to have heats, so they also stop having the behaviors associated with them, such as irritability, the desire to escape and find males, and aggressiveness. Male aggressiveness also decreases after sterilization, as some aggressive behaviors might be associated with high levels of testosterone.
- Females must give birth once. Females do not need to give birth once to be in good health. Dogs do not have the same sexual needs as humans: pets ‘ needs are totally dictated by hormones. A dog, for example, has no conscious frustration or unfulfilled desire to give birth. Sterilization of dogs does not make them less ´natural´.
- Sterilization of dogs makes watchdogs less protective. Again, this is not true. Your dogs‘ ability to protect your property can actually improve after sterilization. So, this is actually one of the benefits of the sterilization of dogs. Studies suggest that a sterilized dog has better concentration compared to an unsterilized one; it therefore trains better. For example, most police and rescue dogs are sterilized or neutered.
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