The Decision to Spay or Neuter

There are approximately 35 million puppies born every year in the United States. Even more startling is the fact that of those 35 million, 10-12 million are euthanized because they are unwanted. Most people think shelters are full of mixed breeds (from accidental mating), but of that 10-12 million, 25 percent are purebreds. A simple surgery could have prevented all those lost lives. Spaying or neutering a puppy is a relatively easy operation. There have been great advances in veterinary medicine over the last decade and now even puppies as young as eight weeks old can be altered with little risk. Your puppy will be put under a general anesthesia and monitored carefully for any problems. A breathing tube is inserted down the puppy?s throat and the area where the surgery is done will be shaved and sanitized to prevent infection. During spaying, a small incision is made in the abdomen and the ovaries and uterus are removed. Neutering is the removal of a male dog?s testicles. Either procedure takes anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour depending on the size of the dog, the skill of the surgeon, and other unforeseen factors. Barring any complications, most puppies are able to go home the same day. When your puppy gets home, he or she will be groggy from the anesthetic. Allow the puppy to sleep. If he or she is still lethargic the next day, contact your veterinarian for advice. Excessive activity should be restricted for the first week as the incision heals. This is not any easy task for an active puppy! When going outside, keep the puppy on a leash to prevent him or her from running around. In the house, don?t play fetch or other games that require running. Do your best to keep the puppy from jumping and rough-housing. Your puppy will not likely be hungry the day of the surgery as he or she recovers from the anesthesia, but normal meals can resume the next day. Keep the incision dry and clean. Look for any signs of infection, swelling, or discharge. If you notice an odor, loose, or broken stitches, or if your puppy is licking excessively at the incision, contact your veterinarian. In about 10-14 days, you will need to bring your puppy back to the veterinarian for a check-up and removal of sutures. There are all sorts of myths circulating about reasons you should not spay or neuter your puppy. A dog should have one litter of puppies before being spayed: False. Statistics show that the exact opposite is true. Females spayed before their first heat cycle are usually healthier, cannot develop an often deadly uterine infection called Pyometra, and have a dramatically reduced risk of developing mammary tumors. Dogs get fat and lazy after being altered: False. Dogs get fat because their owners feed them too much and they do not get enough exercise. It is true that a spayed or neutered dog will not roam and therefore will not get as much exercise. Make a habit of regular walks with your dog. Your dog will feel less masculine: False. Dogs don?t have feelings of sexuality. Their sex drive is a result of instinct, not desire. Dogs have no understanding of whether they can or cannot reproduce. Spaying or neutering your puppy will prevent unwanted litters of puppies that may end up in animal shelters. It dramatically reduces the risk of diseases associated with reproduction. Your puppy will be calmer and will not have the desire to wander, get into fights with rival dogs, or develop bad habits like marking their territory inside your home.

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