Let’s Talk about De-sexing Your Dog
Though de-sexing is a common procedure performed on both male and female dogs, people still have lots of questions about spaying and neutering options. Here at Rawmate, we firmly believe in de-sexing, but we recognise that owners have various options when it comes to deciding exactly when and how the procedure should be done.
What is De-sexing?
Sterilisation of male and female dogs mean adult dogs are no longer able to reproduce. Spay (female sterilisation) and neuter (male sterilisation) operations are common procedures handled by your veterinarian. There are many reasons why de-sexing makes a lot of sense. Preventing unwanted pregnancy and stopping bleeding associated with heat cycles are two benefits for females. For males, castration can reduce aggressive behaviour, the tendency to wander, and may also reduce sexually-related behaviours like humping.
What Do De-sexing Procedures Involve?
In male dogs, the testicles and related reproductive structures are surgically removed. Another option is to perform a vasectomy, a procedure in which the testes (where sperm is produced) are disconnected by cutting the vas deferens, the tubes through which sperm travel.
In females, spay surgery used to routinely involve removal of ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. The result is not only to eliminate any chance of pregnancy, but also stop the female dog’s heat cycle. Today, some vets also offer the option of a partial spay. In a partial spay the uterus is removed but the ovaries are left intact. Another option is performing a tubal ligation in which the fallopian tubes are cut and tied. In a tubal ligation the ovaries and uterus are left intact but eggs are unable to reach the uterus for fertilisation. By leaving the reproductive organs in place but eliminating the chance of pregnancy, female dogs can still benefit from ongoing oestrogen production while they are growing.
Major invasive surgery involving large incisions can slow recovery time. Laparoscopic surgery is offered by some vets and can be done quickly without as much pain and with a shorter recovery time. During a laparoscopic spay, one or two small incisions are made that allows the vet to insert a high definition camera and a fibre optic light source into the dog’s abdomen. Using one of these small incisions, a special dissection tool is inserted and used to remove the ovaries. There are several advantages of this type of surgery including a reduced risk of infection, no risk of postoperative haemorrhage, and a faster recovery time.
Electrosurgery for Neutering Male Dogs
For male dogs, there is also a less invasive option than traditional surgery. A small incision is made between the scrotum and penis. The testicles are sealed and removed using electrosurgery, eliminating the need for internal stitches. Because bleeding and trauma are reduced with this method, your dog is back on his feet and back to normal much more quickly.
When is the Best Age for De-sexing?
There is lots of discussion about the best age at which to de-sex your dog. At Rawmate we are fans of waiting until full skeletal maturity. In large breeds, male dogs may not reach full size until between two and three years of age. In females, there are certain advantages to waiting for full maturity in order to reap the benefits of oestrogen production until skeletal growth is finished.
The problem with waiting is that it’s entirely possible for a female to become pregnant before she is fully physically mature. There is also evidence that females spayed early have a longer life expectancy. Some vets like to spay in stages, performing a partial spay at about six months of age and then a full spay (removing the uterus) after the dog has finished growing. Spayed females also have a lower risk of mammary tumours and, because ovaries, uterus and cervix are removed, cancerous tumours of these structures are prevented.
If you aren’t sure what makes the most sense for your dog, we recommend you consult with your vet to determine what the best option is for de-sexing your dog.
Despite evidence to the contrary, certain myths still persist about de-sexing your dog. No, spaying or neutering your dog will not make it fat - but feeding it too much will. A good diet (like that made by Rawmate), proper portions and a regular exercise program will keep your dog at an optimal weight. Guarding instincts are not impacted by neutering and having the surgery won’t make your dog lazy. In our minds the many benefits of spaying and neutering our canine companions far outweigh any risks.