Why Should I Spay or Neuter My Dog?

Spaying and neutering are one of the most responsible ways dog owners can care for their pet. First-time dog owners are likely to have many questions about spaying and neutering procedures, from the risks involved to how much they will cost.

Spaying/neutering your dog is a crucial decision that can have a significant impact on their health and well-being.

What is Spaying and Neutering?

Spaying is a surgical procedure that involves removing a female dog’s reproductive organs, including the ovaries and uterus. Spaying is typically performed when a dog is between six and twelve months old, although it can be done at any age.
When the uterus and ovaries are removed at the same time, the operation is called an ovariohysterectomy. If just the ovaries are removed, the surgery is called an ovariectomy. Both procedures are just as effective and safe as the other.

Neutering refers to the surgical removal of the pet’s testicles and any structures around them are surgically removed. Castration is another name for this process. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that although neutering makes a male dog sterile, it does not always eliminate all signs of fertility, such as humping. This could be influenced by several things, including the dog’s age.

Vasectomy, a less frequent alternative operation that involves removing the tubes that carry sperm from the testes, is an option for male dogs.

Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

There are many benefits to spaying your dog, including:

Medical Benefits

Spaying or neutering your dog can reduce the risk of certain health problems. Spaying can also prevent uterine infections, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

  • Increased Longevity: Spayed or neutered pets tend to live longer. For instance, some studies found that female cats lived 39% longer and neutered male cats lived 62% longer. Similarly, a University of Georgia study based on the medical records of over 70,000 animals found that the life expectancy of neutered male dogs was 13.8% longer and that of spayed female dogs was also longer.
  • Reduced Risk of Diseases: Spaying and neutering can reduce the risk of certain diseases. For example, spaying female dogs and cats can prevent uterine infection, reduce the risk of breast cancer, and eliminate the chance of developing a serious and potentially fatal infection of the uterus. Neutering males can eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and reduce the risk of developing prostatic disease and hernias.

Public Benefits

One of the most significant benefits of spaying a female dog is that it prevents unwanted pregnancies. This is especially important if you have a female dog that is not intended for breeding. By spaying your dog, you can avoid the stress and expense of caring for a litter of puppies.

Spay and neuter procedures also help control pet overpopulation, which in turn decreases the number of animals in shelters and the need for euthanasia. Millions of cats and dogs are euthanized annually due to unwanted litter that could have been prevented by this intervention.

Behavioural Benefits

Spaying and neutering your dog can also reduce the risk of certain behavioural problems.

  • Reduction of Unwanted Behaviours: Spaying and neutering can reduce or eliminate unwanted behaviours in pets. For example, spaying female pets can eliminate the heat cycle and associated mood swings, as well as reduce the likelihood of undesirable behaviours such as messy spotting and the attraction of male animals.
  • Decreased Roaming and Marking: Neutering male pets can lead to less roaming and fewer urine-marking behaviours, which can help in reducing territorial issues and keeping the pet closer to home.
  • Reduced Aggressive Behaviour: Neutering male pets can also decrease aggressive behaviour, including a lower likelihood of biting.

What are the potential risks of spaying or neutering my dog?

Spaying and neutering have numerous benefits, but there are also potential negatives to consider. Some of the potential negatives include:

  • Health Risks: Spaying and neutering are major surgical procedures, and, like any surgery, they carry some risks. For example, spayed and neutered pets are more at risk of becoming overweight, which can lead to other health issues. In female dogs, spaying can lead to an increased risk of urinary incontinence.
    The removal of sex hormones through spaying or neutering can also impact certain aspects of a pet’s health. For instance, it may affect metabolism and increase the risk of certain diseases and joint issues.
  • Behavioural Changes: While spaying and neutering can reduce unwanted behaviours, it is important to note that these procedures may also impact an animal’s behaviour. In some cases, it may take time for pets to develop replacement behaviours for the undesirable ones they have lost.

It is essential to discuss the potential negatives of spaying and neutering with a veterinarian to make an informed decision based on the individual pet’s health, breed, and lifestyle.

When is the best time to spay/neuter my dog?

The optimal timing for spaying or neutering your pet can vary based on factors such as the pet’s breed, age, and size. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Small Dogs (Up to 22 Pounds): Females should be spayed before their first heat, which is around five to six months old, and males at around six months.
  • Medium-Sized Dogs (Between 25 and 45 Pounds): Spaying or neutering is often recommended between six to nine months of age.
  • Large-Breed Dogs (Over 45 Pounds): For large-breed dogs, the timing is more specific. Neutering is recommended after growth stops, which is usually between 9 and 15 months of age. The decision on when to spay a large-breed female dog is based on a range of factors and is typically recommended within the window of 5 to 15 months.

It is important to consult your veterinarian to determine the best timing for spaying or neutering your pet, considering their individual characteristics such as breed, age, and size, as well as potential medical concerns.

What’ the cost of neutering or spaying my dog?

The cost of spaying or neutering a dog can vary depending on several factors such as location, the size of the dog, and the specific clinic or program. According to the Ontario SPCA, the average total cost for a spay or neuter can range from $220 to $445 on the lower end, with additional expenses such as a veterinarian’s exam or pre-anesthetic bloodwork not always included in the base price.

When comparing the cost of spaying or neutering to future veterinary care, it is important to consider the potential long-term savings. Unaltered dogs are at a higher risk of certain health issues, such as reproductive system cancers, which can be costly to treat. Additionally, behavioral problems associated with not spaying or neutering, such as roaming and aggression, can lead to injuries and other expenses. Therefore, while the initial cost of spaying or neutering may seem significant, it can save money by preventing potential health issues and behavioral problems in the future.


There are many advantages to spaying or neutering your dog, including better health, better behaviour, and reduced population growth. In addition to helping with the pet overpopulation problem, these operations may make your pet live longer and healthier lives by lowering their risk of certain illnesses. Talk to your vet about your dog’s specific requirements before deciding if spaying or neutering is the right choice.

In conclusion, reducing the number of unwanted dogs in the world by having them spayed or neutered is a compassionate and environmentally conscious choice.