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Dog Sterilization

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Overview

Not only is dog sterilization an excellent method of controlling the pet population, it is also necessary to maintain the overall health of your dog. The obvious benefit, from a human’s perspective, of sterilizing your dog is it will help prevent dogs from breeding and stray puppies being born, it prevents difficult dog behaviour like roaming and marking territory, and it prevents certain health issues like testicular cancer, urinary infections, and mammary cancers. But, sterilization is also important from the dog’s point of view. During the reproductive season, a non-sterilized dog will become frustrated, and possibly destructive, without access to dogs of the opposite sex.


SPCA Recommendations

Obviously, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is dedicated to spreading the word about the benefits of dog sterilization. They recommend that dogs are spayed or neutered from an early age and ask that veterinarians work with human societies to ensure early sterilization of pets, work with breeders to encourage sterilization before dogs are sold, and recommend sterilization after the final set of puppy vaccinations at 4 months.

Also, there are some guidelines in place for pet owners when considering the best protocol for sterilizing their pets. Firstly, the SPCA recommends clinics that use reversible gas anesthesia. Although it is usually more expensive, it is also safer than other methods. In addition, surgical instruments need to be sterilized after each use. Believe it or not, this is not the standard in veterinary clinics, so you should be sure to find out whether your clinic sterilizes their instruments regularly. Dogs should also be hooked to a heart monitor in order to ensure their safety during the procedure. Finally, although more time consuming, the incision should be closed with layers of sutures rather than a single layer. This helps in the healing process.

Side Effects of Sterilization Surgery

Side effects for any surgery are often similar between humans and animals. There will definitely be some pain involved as there has been a surgery but this usually subsides within a few days and the long term benefits of sterilization warrant the side effects. Some castrated dogs will also suffer from weakness of the urinary sphincter, causing mild incontinence, but with time and medication these effects are minimized.

Another side effect post-sterilization is weight gain. For this reason, diet needs to be closely monitored. As one would expect, dogs tend to loose some of their energy for the weeks immediately following surgery and sometimes have an increased appetite. You should carefully monitor your dogs eating habits and weight change in order to minimize the amount of weight gain.

In fact, the behavioral side effects of dog sterilization are often positive. Dogs usually become calmer and more well-behaved post surgery. This is particularly true with male dogs. Non-sterilized male dogs are often highly motivated to seek out females in heat and will even run away from home in order to follow the sent of a female. This problem is eliminated post sterilization. In addition, non-sterilized male dogs usually show more aggression and try to become the alpha male in a pack. Aggressive behaviour in dogs is shown to decrease drastically after sterilization. Finally, a castrated male dog cannot get testicular cancer and they are less likely to develop prostrate problems.

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