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Dog Spay Surgery Explained

Updated on September 26, 2011

Spaying will prevent male guests to your door and unwanted pregnancies


Your puppy is growing very fast and now that she is reaching near her six months, you are debating on if she should be spayed or not. As a new dog owner, this questioning may be quite normal, you love your dog but yet you fear the surgery, the anesthetic and the recovery phase. Yet, on a corner of your mind you envision your dog having puppies at least once, the joy of birth and the cuddling with the pups. On another hand, you have also heard about the importance of spaying in avoiding more unwanted dogs from shelters. So, at some point you may feel quite overwhelmed on making the big decision.

Before, discussing the pros and cons of spaying it is important to debunk some very common myths around about spaying dogs. These are some of the most common:

''Spayed dogs get fat"

This is not true. Dogs become fat because they are fed more than they are supposed to be fed. Dogs also become fat because they are under exercised. If as an owner you provide the normal quantity of food you pet needs while offering a regular exercise regimen, your dog will remain slim as it was meant to be.

''Spaying is a risky surgery''

Spaying is a routine surgery. Some veterinarians working for shelters can spay a lot of dogs each day with no complications. The risks of a dog dying from a spay surgery are very low. Of course, do your research well and find a good veterinarian with a good reputation.

''Spaying makes dogs lazy''

Dogs do not get lazy from being spayed, they get lazy if their life offers no stimulus. If allowed to stay all day at home with nothing to do a then yes, a dog will get lazy. Rest assured that if you provide daily walks and some activities like playing fetch, your dog will not get lazy. Lazy dogs are often the by-product of lazy people.

Pros of Spaying:

  • No More heat cycles

Heat cycles in dogs can be quite messy, some dogs get pretty heavy flows. With no more heat cycles, no more irritability, no more need for doggie diapers and no more stained carpets.

  • Less dogs in Shelters

Each year thousands of unwanted puppies are born. Some may be adopted because of being cute and cuddly but there are way more puppies than housholds considering to adopt pets. It is a disgrace that countless happy and healthy dogs are put to sleep every day in shelters because of irresponsible dog owners.

  • No more Attracting Males

Males can sniff a female in heat even from miles away. Going to the dog park may be quite an adventure with all the intact males interested in her. Even a thing simple as a walk may turn into an annoying hassle if your neighbors have males nearby.

  • Longer Life Expectancy

When dogs give birth to puppies over and over, they weaken in the long term and also become vulnerable to various health conditions. Ideally, spaying before the first heat will dramatically lower the chances of getting mammary cancer. However, even spaying at a later time will contribute to significantly lowering the chances.

  • No more Complications

Pyometra is a serious and potentially fatal infection of the uterus. Because the uterus is removed during a spay surgery, the chances of getting pyometra are close to none. The same principle applies to potentially deadly tumors of the ovaries and uterus.

  • A better Disposition

Once the dog is spayed, all of the hormones are out of the way, making your dog much calmer and easier to deal with. Many owners even notice their dog becomes more cuddly and loving.

  • No More False Pregnancies

Sometimes when dogs are are not mated they may resort to simulating a pregnancy. This annoying and stressful behavior is avoided with spaying.

Cons of Spaying a Female Dog

  • You must Pay For it

It must be admitted, spaying can turn out to be a pretty costly especially if you get it done in a veterinary hospital setting. However, it is done only once and ultimately lasts a lifetime. Spaying can be considered as an investment in health and peace of mind. There are more and more low cost spay and neuter clinics popping up nation wide. Ask your nearest Humane Society for a referral. Many offer spay surgeries for less than 60 dollars. If your dog is in heat or pregnant however, the price may go slightly up.

  • Your Dog Must go Under

Yes, as already mentioned your dog must go under anesthesia. However, it is a very routine spay so hundreds of spays are routinely performed in clinics safely each day. This does not make the procedure fail proof but the benefits of the spay procedure greatly outweigh the health risks associated with keeping a female dog intact.

  • There may Be some Pain

Of course, with any surgery there may be some pain involved. Your vet may prescribe some pain meds if she seems particularly uncomfortable. You will also have to monitor your dog for licking the wound and keep her quite for the first few days.

As seen, the pros of spaying by far, outweight the cons. If you are debating on spaying your dog, please do the dog population, yourself and your dog a big favor and have the procedure done. Many reputable breeders are putting the requirement of spaying and neutering the puppies they sell on their contracts. More and more vets offer early spay programs where dogs as young as a few months old can be spayed. Doing so offers faster recovery times while minimizing the chances of getting your dog pregnant. Consult with your vet on the proper age to spay.

Things To Ask Your Vet Prior

Sometimes dogs are not spayed as puppies but further along the road, when older. Owners that are particularly preoccupied about the procedure should focus on asking their vets the following:

1) Ask for isoflurane anesthesia. This anesthetic is one of the safest and has been used in human infant surgery for years. It is particularly recommended in dogs beyond five years of age because of it's safety margin.

2) Ask for pre-anesthetic blood work. This blood work is usually done a day before or even the morning before surgery and checks for blood sugar, kidney values, and red blood cell count. This blood work will rule out underlying conditions that can cause anesthetic complications when the pet is under.

3)Ask if an oximeter is used when your dog is under. This helpful instrument ensures proper oxygenation of the blood.

4) Ask if fluids can be given as necessary. This will help the pet's hydration level and help him recover faster by flushing out the anesthetic.

5) Ask if your dog is placed on a nice warm water pad after surgery. Pets lose temperature fast after surgery and need to be kept warm.

6) Ask for pain medication-. It can be given prior to surgery and you can have some to take home with you in case of pain following surgery. Nothing is worse than having a dog in pain when the vet office is closed.

7) Last but not least, this depends on you. Ask yourself if you followed carefully the protocol of not feeding your dog the night prior surgery. Most hospitals will tell you not to feed anymore food or treats after 6PM the night prior. Water is acceptable. This is vital as it prevents from vomiting and inhaling stomach contents during surgery. Please make sure that non of your family members gave any food or treats. If your dog did eat you will need to reschedule the surgery.

Spay Surgery (viewer discretion advised)

Recovery time:

After the spay surgery your dog may still appear to be a bit wobbly from the anesthesia if you pick her up the same day. She may walk uncoordinated for the few first hours and appear to be in a ''drunk'' like state. Keep her safe in a small room and keep a close eye on her. Do not keep her near stairs or places where she may get hurt. Do not let her jump on and off furniture.

Once walking better, you want to monitor the incision site. Prevent her from licking by using an e-collar (most vets can fit her with one for you) or as an alternative, apply some bitter apple spray around the stitches, but never on top because it may burn. If she continuously attempts to lick tell her a firm ''no''. Having her sleep nearby your bed if feasible for the first few nights may be helpful.

Baths should be avoided during the first few weeks.

Sometimes a little bit of blood may be seen seeping through the stitches. If this is just a drop or two keep an eye on it and make sure the bleeding stops within a minute or two. If there is blood oozing out and will not stop, have her seen by a vet immediately, she may have an underlying blood disorder that needs addressed immediately.

Opened stitches should also be treated immediately. Some dogs may need to go under again to get the area stitched up again. For this reason you want to keep a very careful eye on her the first few days and keep quiet. A crate may be helpful for the first couple of days.


Spay recovery, awakening from surgery


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    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 20 months ago from USA

      Hello, this doesn't sound normal at all. I would give the vet that did the surgery a call.

    • profile image

      Diane 20 months ago

      I spayed my bitch last week and now a week after surgery she seems to be weeing like she has no control is that normal she has had her one week check with vets but started after that many thanks diane.

    • profile image

      Stuart 5 years ago

      My dog was spayed yesterday and she is recovering well so far. She is now eating (chicken and rice) and is wagging her tail (which she was not doing yesterday!).

    • profile image

      stacy 5 years ago

      o wow i cant say anything cuz im getting my dog slayed tomrrow ughh scared i love her

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      I wonder if an infection is setting in. Has she been licking the wound? if so, she may need to wear an Elizabethan collar. She may also be in pain, has your vet prescribed any pain meds? only your vet can tell at this point what it truly going on. Let me know how it goes, best wishes!

    • profile image

      Luka 5 years ago

      My girl's 10 years old, I noticed some discharge coming from her and rushed her in as she'd finished a heat-cycle 4 weeks prior. Other than the discharge, she acted perfectly normal and it did turn out to be Pyometra. She was Mom's dog for the most part, and Mom didn't want to get her spayed because she wanted puppies.

      Then she didn't want to get her spayed because She'd 'get fat'..

      The first two days after her surgery, she was acting normal, but her incision site has flared up, looking blistery and red. She's got very little appetite and will only drink off of a syringe but once outside seems more herself when going for walkies. Still, it's off to the vet for her again, today :(

      I'm so scared for her.. I really am.

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      ally 5 years ago

      sorry 4 both of u

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      I am very sorry to hear about the happening, it must be heart breaking. Every time one of my pets go under I always worry about complications but then statistics make me feel better, but there are always those chances...I am wondering if perhaps she had an underlying heart condition that somewhat went undetected..Sending you a virtual hug and deep condolences.

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      Veronica 5 years ago

      I just lost my 4 yr old beautiful sweet baby boston terrier on the recovery table after being spayed. I am heart broken and all the vet could say was she went into fibrillation and there was nothing they could do after working on her for 20+ mins... I have been a mess ever since I got the phone call on Thursday. I had put if off because she never seemed to spot and she was a sickly rescued puppy. The vet told me she would get an infection so I listened to him. Now my best friend is dead!