Spaying or Neutering Your Dog : It Just Makes Good Sense

by Michelle Wray, Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue

For many people, the decision to spay or neuter their pets is automatic.  When the dog is old enough, they have the surgery done.  For others, either through lack of understanding or deliberate intent, they allow their pets to remain intact.  The bottom line is that unless you already are, or intend to become, a responsible breeder of purebred dogs, spaying or neutering your pet is in your pet's best interest and yours as well.  In this article, some common myths about spaying and neutering will be dispelled.

Myth #1 : "If I spay my pet, she will get fat and lazy."

The fact is, pets get fat through lack of exercise and overfeeding.  Instead of free feeding your pet, try measuring the amount and giving her the same amount every day, at the same time each day.  That way, you will be able to more closely monitor exactly how much your pet eats, and it will have the added benefit of making your pet more reliable in terms of bathroom habits.  You'll also be able to quickly tell if your pet isn't feeling well because you'll see immediately that she isn't eating all her food.

Myth #2 : "If I neuter my pet, he'll be useless as a guard dog."

Neutering your male dog will not make him any less likely to warn you about strangers or "turn him into a wimp".  This is a case where the owner allows his feelings about his own sexual identity be projected onto his dog.  Dogs don't have any emotions tied in to their sexuality as humans do.  Your dog will never know the difference.  In fact, your dog may become a better watch dog because the lack of testosterone in his system will make him less likely to take off in search of a female in heat.  He will also be less likely to get in fights with other male dogs, and he will be more loving and affectionate to his owners.  He also will have much less of a tendency to mark his territory.  In rescue, we see scores of dogs who have no fault other than their owners could not keep them from marking. 

Myth #3 : "My pet is perfectly healthy now, so why make them have a surgery they don't need?"  or "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

It is a documented fact that spayed or neutered pets live longer, healthier lives than unaltered pets do.  The removal of the sexual organs means that the dog can't get cancer in them later in life.  These cancers happen all too often in aging intact pets.  Female dog who are spayed also have a much reduced chance of getting breast cancer.  Another potential problem for intact female dogs is pyometra.  Pyometra is a deadly infection of the uterus.  Usually it is very serious before the owner even knows anything is wrong.  It is always an emergency condition and usually requires an immediate spay.  Why not just have the spay done when the pet is young and better able to handle the surgery?  The younger the pet is when spayed or neutered, the less chance of problems there are with the surgery, and the quicker they will recover from it.  There is also the "mess and bother" factor.  Heat cycles in intact females are messy, and false pregnancies can make your female dog a real bother to deal with.

Myth #4 : "I've always heard that it's better for females if they have one heat cycle before they're spayed."

There is simply no evidence to back this up.  In fact, the evidence shows that females should be spayed before their first heat to get the maximum health benefits from spaying.  Plus, you don't take any chance that you could have an accidental pregnancy on your hands.

Myth #5 : "Everybody loves my dog (or "My dog is a purebred").  I won't have any problem finding homes for the puppies."

Just because everyone loves your dog, or perhaps has even said they'd like to have a puppy from him/her "someday", doesn't mean that when someday comes they will want a puppy.  They may have just been thinking out loud.  Even if you do find homes for all the puppies, that just means that more puppies who are waiting for homes in humane societies will have to be euthanized for lack of homes.  Also, just because your dog is a purebred doesn't mean it should be bred, or that you will automatically be able to find good homes for the puppies.  One out of every four dogs in shelters is a purebred dog.  You should also ask yourself, if you are really prepared to be a responsible breeder and do everything that entails.  For an excellent description of what being a responsible breeder means, see 10 Reasons to Breed Your Dachshund by Cherri Thomson (  You should also be prepared for the fact that not all deliveries go as planned.  Are you prepared to pay several hundred dollars should your dog need a c-section?  What would happen if she died in labor?  Are you able to bottle or tube feed several babies every couple hours round the clock until they are old enough to be weaned?

Myth #6 : "I want to recoup the money I paid for this dog with a litter of puppies."

Responsible breeders will tell you - raising puppies the right way isn't cheap.  You need to have all possible health tests done on both the dam and sire before hand, to be sure that the puppies produced will be sound and healthy.  As mentioned above, c-sections are costly.  After the puppies are born, you will probably have to advertise somehow in order to sell them, which also costs.  Each puppy will need 3 sets of shots before going to their new homes, at a cost of $20 or more per shot.  Failing to vaccinate the puppies properly or letting them go to their new homes too quickly may put them at risk of catching any number of deadly diseases.  Do you have the finances to care for an entire litter of parvo puppies, who will require round the clock vet care and still may die despite best efforts? 

Myth #7 : "I'm afraid for my dog to have the surgery because she/he is older or not in good health."

Veterinarians have been doing spay and neuter surgeries routinely for many years now.  There are constantly being developed new, better methods and drugs to make the surgeries even safer.  If you have concerns that your pet may not be in good enough health to survive the surgery, talk to your vet.  They can give your pet blood tests and a thorough physical exam to determine if there is any cause for worry.  Ask that they use isoflurane anesthetic, which is one of the safest, and request that your pet be kept on a heart monitor for the surgery.  Even at an older age, there are still benefits in terms of cancer prevention to spaying and neutering.

Myth #8 : "I don't need to get my pets fixed because I will keep them separate when they're in season."

Despite your best efforts, accidents can happen.  The instinct to reproduce is one of the strongest instincts there is.  Intact male dogs will leap fences, dig tunnels, or chew through baby gates to get to a female in heat.  Likewise, a female dog in heat will do her best to attract males from far and wide.  It only takes a minute and you will have a "whoopsie" pregnancy on your hands.

Myth #9 : "I want my female dog to experience motherhood to give her a better personality."

In fact, the opposite is true.  Females in heat go through hormonal changes that may make them aggressive, and their desire to attract a mate may make them more likely to mark their territory, just like a male would.  Having babies does not change a female's personality in the long run.  However, having her spayed will get rid of the wild swings in mood she may experience from heats and make her more predictable.

Myth #10 : "I can't afford to have it done." 

Considering the seriousness of the surgery, veterinarians provide this service at a very minimal cost to pet owners.  In case you think spay and neuter surgery is a snap, take a look at the actual surgeries at (warning, not for the weak stomach).  There are many resources for pet owners who need financial help.  Spay USA is a referral service for low-cost spay/neuter services.  They can be reached at 1-800-248-SPAY or visit their website at  Another option is to call your local animal shelter.  They may offer subsidized spay/neuter services using local vets.

Myth #11 : "I'll do it next week.  I'm simply too busy this week to deal with it." Or other apathetic reasons.

There is no time like the present.  Putting off to tomorrow may leave you in the position of having an unwanted pregnancy on your hands, or if you own a male dog, of having an angry neighbor who wants you to pay for half the costs of the puppies your boy helped create.  It does take two to tango, after all.

Myth #12 : "I want my kids to experience the miracle of birth."

This one is not really a myth.  But if you want your kids to experience the miracle of birth, how about letting them experience the horror of death, too.  Visit your local humane society and ask to observe a euthanization.  Every year in America, 4 to 6 million dogs and cats are killed simply because no one wants them.  We are a nation that treats dogs and cats as throwaway items, that are to be cherished when cute and discarded when they become an inconvenience.  DON'T ADD TO THE PROBLEM!  SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS!

HSUS Pet Overpopulation Facts
HSUS Where to Have Your Pet Spayed or Neutered
HSUS Myths and Facts About Spaying and Neutering
HSUS Facts About Spaying and Neutering
HSUS Early-Age Spay/Neuter : A Growing Consensus
ASPCA Spaying & Neutering
Dog Owner's Guide Spay or neuter surgery
10 Reasons to Breed Your Dachshund
The Pet Center Spay and Neuter
Spay USA Homepage
Family Vet Why Spaying and Neutering is Important for Pet Health
Animal Friends Test Your Spay and Neuter Knowledge
Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Early Spay/Neuter Factsheet

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