Spaying and neutering guide for dogs

Spaying and neutering prevents unwanted litters and will save you the trouble of having to find homes for unexpected puppies. 

It can also have behavioural and health benefits for your dog and can help lower the risk of some serious illnesses. Here’s everything you need to know about neutering your dog.

Spaying and neutering prevents unwanted litters and will save you the trouble of having to find homes for unexpected puppies. 

It can also have behavioural and health benefits for your dog and can help lower the risk of some serious illnesses. Here’s everything you need to know about neutering your dog.

Tom Harrison
Insurance expert
4
minute read
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Posted 7 OCTOBER 2019 Last Updated 4 FEBRUARY 2022

What is neutering?

Neutering is a routine operation that involves removing your dog’s reproductive organs. 

  • In males, it’s called castration and involves removing the testicles, the main source of testosterone. 
  •  In females, it’s called spaying and means removing the ovaries and uterus.  

The surgical procedure is done under general anaesthetic by a vet. In most cases, you can take your dog home on the same day. 

  • Spaying takes about an hour and your female dog will need around two weeks’ recovery time at home.  
  • Castrating takes about 30 minutes and your male dog will need around 10 days’ recuperation at home.

Why should I get my dog neutered?

By neutering your dog, you’ll prevent unwanted puppies and having to find new homes for the litter. 

Animal charities estimate that an unspayed female dog and her offspring can produce as many as 67,000 puppies over the course of six years. Some breeds can have as many as 12 puppies in just one litter. That’s why animal charities are keen to encourage neutering, as it prevents the suffering and abuse that come with overpopulation. 

But spaying and neutering don’t just keep dogs out of shelters, they can also provide your own pet with health benefits. And as your neutered dog will be less focused on finding a mate, they’ll be more interested in you. 

Spaying benefits for female dogs

  • No ‘phantom’ pregnancies. These are common after each season and can cause both distress and behavioural problems.
  • Greatly reduced risk of mammary tumours and breast cancer.
  • No risk of pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the womb.
  • You don’t need to worry about your dog being in heat around every six months. Female dogs in heat produce a bloody discharge that can last for three weeks or more and they often experience hormonal mood changes. During this time, your dog will need to be kept on a lead, away from other dogs. 

Castration benefits for male dogs

  • They’re less likely to stray and cause nuisance to females in season.
  • They’re less likely to get into fights or risk being attacked by other dogs.
  • They’re less likely to run into a busy road because they’re chasing a female.
  • Uncastrated males may be more aggressive towards other dogs and show embarrassing and unwanted sexual behaviour towards humans.
  •  It reduces the risk of prostate problems and testicular cancer. 

If you want to know more about the pros and cons of neutering your dog and whether it’s right for your pet, your vet will answer any questions you have.

Are there disadvantages to neutering?

Although the benefits of neutering outweigh any disadvantages, you may find that it affects the texture, shine and growth of your dog’s coat. 

Some people say it can increase your dog’s appetite, putting them at risk of being overweight in later life, but this hasn’t been conclusively proved. Either way, it’s important to control your pet’s diet and make sure they get plenty of exercise.

When should I get my dog neutered?

  • Female dogs can be spayed from around six months old.
  • Depending on the breed, male dogs can be castrated at around six to seven months old. 

How much will it cost to neuter my dog?

The cost of neutering will vary depending on the size, weight and breed of dog, as well as where you live. Prices can range from £150 to £350. The best way to get an accurate price is to speak to your vet. It’s worth calling several practices to compare prices. 

To encourage owners to neuter their dogs and avoid the risk of stray and abandoned dogs, The Dogs Trust offers a low-cost £50 neutering scheme in Northern Ireland. The subsidised scheme is available to owners on means-tested benefits with specific breeds of dog. To find out if you qualify for the scheme, call the Dogs Trust neutering hotline on 0333 202 1148

If you live in England, Scotland, or Wales, it’s worth contacting the Blue Cross, the PDSA, and your local animal welfare trust to see if they can help. 

Although insurance doesn’t usually cover the cost of routine neutering, it can offer protection should your dog become ill or is injured. Compare pet insurance quotes to find the right policy for you.

Frequently asked questions

Should I let my female dog have one litter before getting her spayed?

The expert opinion is that there isn’t any reason to do this. To get the full benefits of neutering, it’s best to do it before your pet reaches sexual maturity. This will reduce her risk of mammary cancer, as well as cancers of the ovaries and uterus, which can be life-threatening and expensive to treat.

But I already have homes for the puppies, so what’s the harm?

It isn’t always a good idea to let your dog have puppies, even if they have homes to go to. It increases the risk of further overpopulation, leaving fewer homes for dogs currently in shelters.

Is neutering safe?

Yes, although, as with any surgery, it does carry a small risk. Spaying and neutering are extremely common procedures, so your vet is likely to be very experienced at carrying out both. Your dog will be given an anaesthetic and pain medication, so is unlikely to experience any discomfort and should recover quickly.

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