When should I get my dog spayed or neutered?

This is one of the biggest questions for any new pet parent. We never want our beloved dogs to go through surgery, which always comes with risks and discomfort. However, we also know that unless we’re looking to breed from our dogs, spaying or neutering them is the responsible thing to do; not only are there health and behavior benefits, but there are more than enough unwanted dogs in the world. 

Vets believe that the benefits of neutering and spaying outweigh any risks, suggesting it will provide a happier and healthier future for your pup. But when we get our dog spayed or neutered is less obvious, and even splits expert opinion.

Here are some things to consider: 


Neutering (Males)

Guidelines suggest that dogs can be neutered from around six months of age (it can happen from just eight weeks old but that’s very rare). This is for several reasons.

When young dogs hit puberty, they can become more territorial and may start to mark certain spots to show other dogs that they have been there. Aggression, whether it’s a little or a lot, can coincide with this new territorial nature and may need to be addressed. Neutering can help lessen these behavioral changes, which is great for them and you. 

On the flip side, behavior that can be seen as aggressive is often the result of fear or anxiety. Removing a source of testosterone can make that problem worse.

There are health benefits, too. Many studies have concluded that neutering can reduce the risk of a dog getting certain cancers and potentially fatal prostatic diseases later in life. 

However, if your male dog is of a larger breed, then vets may advise you to wait until the pup is a bit older so they can grow into their adult size before undergoing the procedure. 

Of course, not everyone owns their dog from a puppy, especially when rehoming. If your dog is an adult and isn’t neutered, then there are a few other things to consider before making the decision to go ahead with the procedure. 

Dogs that are neutered later on in their lives may be more susceptible to complications when having surgery, so it’s very important for your pooch to have a thorough examination to ensure they are strong and stable enough. They must also be at a healthy weight which can be maintained by feeding them the right food and portion sizes for their breed—this can apply for males and females.


Spaying (Females)

Advice for spaying female dogs is slightly different, as vets often recommend that they are at least six months old before undergoing the procedure. This is due to some studies suggesting that females getting spayed before the six-month mark are slightly more likely to contract orthopedic problems and are more at risk of developing certain cancers. 

Therefore, the ‘optimum’ time to spay a female dog is ideally just before they go into their first heat, although this is incredibly tricky to predict. That’s why many pet parents choose to wait until the first is over before spaying, which is totally normal.

Performing surgery while a dog is in heat doesn’t often happen unless for an emergency medical reason. This is because their blood vessels become a lot more frail during this time.

As stated previously, there are always risks that go along with any medical procedure. If you adopt your female dog when she’s a bit older and you wish to get them spayed, then this is definitely doable. Your vet will be able to provide all the necessary medical checks and examinations to ensure they are able to undergo the procedure.