As responsible dog owners, most of us get our dogs fixed so they cannot produce puppies. The only downside to this is that your dog has to undergo a surgical procedure and that means putting them through a few days of discomfort.
When people talk about getting their dog ‘fixed’, they usually use the terms neutering or spaying. The term “neutering” seems to cover both male and female dogs and is used universally.
The procedure of sterilization is performed under general anesthetic, so your dog will be asleep throughout and will feel no pain. When they wake, they are likely to feel groggy, nauseous and uncomfortable from the anesthetic, but they will also feel pain from the surgery. The veterinarian will administer pain relief via an injection that usually lasts 12-24 hours.
Your dog will also be prescribed pain medication to take at home for a few days following the surgery. This is usually in the form of a gel to be added to their food, but some pain medications can be in tablet form.
How long will my dog be in pain after neutering?
Your neutered or spayed dog may experience a mild pain within 2 or 3 days and may whine if they move too quickly. If your dog is still experiencing pain a week after their surgery, you should inform the vet.
Most sterilization procedures include a follow-up visit a week after surgery to check that the wound is healing and there are no side effects.
How can I comfort my dog in pain after neutering?
Besides giving them their pain medication, there are lots of things you can do for your dog to make their recovery easier.
- Remain Calm. For at least a week post-surgery, your dog should not engage in any physical activity, as this risks opening the wound. Open wounds can cause infection and will also be very painful. After their check-up, your veterinarian will tell you if the wound has healed enough to allow lead-only walks. Always follow their advice and do not let your dog off the lead until they deem your dog as healed.
- Cone of Shame. Your dog may not thank you for it but a surgical cone (Elizabethan collar) prevents your dog from licking their wound. They may chew or pull at the stitches or get the wound infected, so the collar is necessary to prevent this.
- No Baths. Wounds heal best when they are kept dry and well aired. To ensure the best chance of a quick recovery, do not give your dog a bath or allow them to swim until the wound has healed.
Most dogs will start to feel more themselves a day or two after their surgery, but it is normal for them to take a few days longer to be completely back to normal.
Why do vets recommend spaying and neutering?
While there are several benefits to having your dog desexed, the biggest benefit is that it prevents any unwanted pregnancies, which all reduce the number of unwanted dogs ending up in shelters.
Other benefits of spaying or neutering include:
- Reduces or eliminates the chances of your dog developing ovarian or testicular cancer
- Reduces the risk of a male dog developing prostatic hyperplasia
- Reduces or eliminates the risk of a female dog developing uterine infections (pyometra)
- Potentially lessens aggression or breeding related behaviors such as mounting and marking
While any surgical procedure is not without risk, the benefits of desexing your dog certainly outweigh any potential side effects.
Recovery from spaying or neutering is generally less than one week provided you do not allow your dog to run around or jump on and off furniture. After a check-up one week after surgery, your dog should be able to resume daily walks.
There is a popular belief that spayed or neutered dogs gain weight, however, this is untrue. Healthy dogs will only gain weight if they are not exercised regularly and fed an appropriate amount of food.
Similarly, spaying or neutering does not change a dog’s personality, but it can prevent unwanted behaviors such as mounting, humping, marking and dog aggression.
What is the best age to spay or neuter a dog?
Traditionally, the recommended age for spaying and neutering dogs is between 6 and 9 months. However, there are some considerations to be made.
For example, large-breed dogs tend to mature at a slower rate than smaller breeds, so it is recommended to wait until at least 9 months. Giant breeds like Great Danes and Newfoundlands should ideally not be neutered before they reach one year old.
The advice for female dogs is to have her spayed before she experiences her first heat cycle to reduce the risk of her developing mammary cancer in later life. Typically, a female dog will have her first heat cycle between 5 and 10 months old.
If you have a male and female dog in the home and neither is desexed, you should consider having one or both dogs desexed to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
Your dog should be thoroughly assessed by a veterinarian before being spayed or neutered to ensure they have no undiagnosed medical issues and that they are developing normally.
What are the considerations of spaying or neutering your dog?
Most pet insurance companies consider spaying or neutering to be elective procedures and do not offer coverage in their policies. Some may offer add-on preventative care or wellness coverage, but it is best to check so you are not left with a surprise bill.
Cost depends on a number of factors including gender, size and where you live. Typically, the cost for a male neutering procedure is between £100 and £220. For females, spaying may cost between £150 and £400. It is important to note that every vet has their own pricing. Some include after-care in the cost, while others offer this as an additional cost.
Spaying female dogs is more expensive since the procedure is more invasive. Small breed dogs cost less to desex than large or giant breeds. This is because the procedure may take longer for larger dogs and they also require a larger dose of anesthetic.