Spaying or neutering is one of the most responsible ways that dog and cat owners can care for their pet, avoiding unwanted litters. The first time you are likely to come up with many questions about spay and neuter procedures, from the risks involved to how much they will cost. Here are some answers to the most common questions pet owners have about spaying and neutering.

What is the difference between spaying and neutering?

In castration, the sex glands are removed by surgical techniques. That is, the testicles in the case of males and the ovaries in females. In this way, two things are achieved: sterility and the absence of sexual activity. But practicing only the sterilization avoids the fertility of the dog, but maintains a normalized sexual behavior.

The castration technique is more drastic and invasive than in the case of spaying, but it also has its advantages: it controls the character in cases where there are specific problems related to coexistence (such as aggressiveness, escapes, etc.), and all the advantages related to sterilization: it prevents diseases related to the uterus or the breasts, in the case of females, and it prevents prostate diseases in the case of males. It is important to consider spaying and castration as options to avoid procreation, provided that new litters are not desired.

Why spay or neuter?

Animal shelters across the country are full of unwanted puppies. The organization “Protective Associations and Animal Defense” (FAPAM) estimates that the number of dropouts per year is over 300,000. This alarming figure means an average of three animals abandoned every five minutes in Spain.

Spaying and neutering reduce the number of unwanted litters, which in turn helps reduce the number of unwanted pets or stray animals that enter shelters or kennels. These procedures also have specific health benefits that can help a dog or cat live a healthier and longer life, and can also minimize behavior problems coupled with heat. Spaying your pet helps prevent serious health problems, such as breast cancer and pyometra, a life-threatening uterine infection.

Spaying male dogs helps prevent them from developing testicular cancer. Neutered male dogs are also generally less aggressive and less likely to stray from home.

On the other hand, some diseases, such as prostate cancer and certain orthopedic conditions, are slightly more common in dogs and cats that have been spayed or neutered.

For most pet owners, the benefits of spaying or neutering their animals outweigh the disadvantages.

When should you sterilize or neute your pet?

The age to spay or neuter a pet can vary depending on the size of the pet, but in general terms, the procedure can be practiced from 4 months. Each owner should discuss their specific circumstances with their personal veterinarians, as there are several factors that can influence the timing of spaying and neutering.

For example, a dog’s breed can make a difference. Larger dog breeds tend to mature a little later than their smaller counterparts. So intervening too early could harm or interrupt their maturation, keeping them more childish.

The situation in the home of an animal should also be considered, for example, if two cubs from the same litter live in the same home, they should be sterilized before the female goes into heat.

If you only have one pet at home, the urge to castrate or spay will be much less, but you should pay attention to your animal when it is in heat and circulates freely.

Before your pet is going to be spayed or neutered, it is very important that your regular vet does a complete checkup to make sure it is free from health problems. The complete medical history of the pet should be provided as the underlying conditions or prescription medications may be relevant.

Recovery from spay and neuter surgery

You can help your pet have a safe and comfortable recovery after being spayed or neutered by following some precautions:

  • Keep your pet indoors and away from other animals during the recovery period.
  • Do not allow your pet to run and jump from side to side for at least 2 weeks after surgery, or whenever the vet recommends it.
  • Make sure your pet cannot lick the incision area by using a cone, or other methods, such as putting an old shirt on and tying it on its body.
  • Check the incision daily to make sure it’s healing properly. If there is redness, swelling, discharge, or unpleasant odor, contact your vet immediately.
  • Do not bathe your pet for at least 10 days after the intervention.
  • Call your vet if you notice your pet uncomfortable, is lethargic, eats less, vomits, or has diarrhea.

For medications that help manage pain, see your vet.

Is spay and neuter surgery dangerous?

Spaying and neutering are common procedures, but it is important to know that there is always a certain degree of risk for animals undergoing surgery and with general anesthesia, so it is important to know the animal’s health status as well as its clinical history.

Dogs and cats should undergo a complete physical examination to ensure their general good health before performing the surgery. A blood test is recommended to ensure that the animal does not have underlying health problems. In case of liver and kidney problems, or heart murmurs may require further investigation.

Myths about spaying and neutering pets

Several misconceptions persist about spaying and neutering pets. One of the most popular beliefs is that both sterile cats and dogs get fat. This is not true as long as dog owners provide the right amount of exercise and food.

For dogs, they tend to need fewer calories (about 20%) after being spayed or neutered, but changing their diet properly and keeping them active will prevent weight gain.

Another misconception is that spaying or neutering your pet always changes their personality. That is not true either. Your behavior should not change. In any case, it can help stop unwanted behaviors related to heat, such as marking at home, or aggressiveness towards other animals.

How much does it cost to spay or neuter your dog?

The cost of spaying or neutering a pet varies widely depending on geographic area, animal type, and size. For example, the price of castrating a dog or dog will depend on several factors: weight, sex, physiological state, type of surgical technique, etc. You should know that the bigger the pet, the more expensive the operation will be. And in addition, it will always be more expensive to operate on a female than on a male, since the intervention is greater and more complex. Neutering your pet in Spain can be between € 100 and € 400.