Getting your pup spayed can be a difficult time, as it isn’t always obvious what to expect. Your vet should take you through the process, but here’s an overview including potential problems to watch out for.
Spaying is the removal of the dog’s female reproductive tract, including the uterus, fallopian tube and ovaries. This means that the dog isn’t able to reproduce. She also won’t have a heat cycle.
While spaying is a complicated surgery, it is very common so the risks are usually not high. You’ll need to talk with your vet about specific risks to your dog though. Your vet will also perform a thorough physical and background health check to look for potential problems.
Spaying is part of being a responsible dog owner. In the US alone, there are thousands of unwanted dogs in shelters, with many having no hope of being adopted. Millions of dogs are euthanized every year. The simple fact is that there are already far more dogs than are needed as pets – getting your dog spayed means there’s no chance of contributing to this problem.
Getting your dog spayed has several other advantages. These include a decreased risk of developing certain types of cancer.
There are, however, some drawbacks. It is thought that certain orthopaedic conditions are more likely in dogs that have been spayed. Considering the range of benefits, for most owners getting their dog spayed is the clear choice.
The normal age for spaying is around 6-9 months. Some shelters or clinics may recommend spaying at a much younger age though. This is something that should be discussed with your vet, as factors such as breed and other dogs in the home can affect the decision. There is also some evidence that spaying too young can cause behavioural problems, which is something to keep in mind.
Note: Spaying usually doesn’t affect the age your dog stops growing, but early spaying (before 16 weeks) may delay the closure of growth plates.
It’s difficult to say how long your dog will take to recover, as it depends on how the surgery went and the individual pet. The typical healing period is 7-14 days, although this can vary. If the wound is damaged or agitated the healing time will be longer.
After having anaesthesia, you should expect your pup to be a little groggy for up to 24 hours. She’s likely to sleep a lot during this period. It’s also possible that your dog is unusually aggressive while the anaesthesia is wearing off.
There may be a very small amount of swelling or bruising during the healing period. It’s vital to check the incision at least twice a day though. If you notice a change in its appearance, you should contact your vet.
If you’re worried about anything during the recovery process, you should always contact your vet as soon as possible. Here are some things to watch out for:
You should contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. While spaying is considered a routine surgery, there can still be serious complications.
There are a number of things you can do to make sure your pet has a comfortable recovery:
If you notice your dog acting strangely, you should always contact your vet. Look for signs such as a lack of appetite, stomach issues, lethargy or just if your dog looks uncomfortable.
Richard is a journalist who specialises in dog behavior. He's written hundreds of articles and books related to dogs, including for the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Fest (the UK's biggest dog festival) and various veterinary surgeries. When he's not spending time with Jess and Rudy (his beloved Labrador and Golden Retrievers), he enjoys reading, hiking and watching sports.