To Spay Or Not To Spay: Making An Informed Decision

Pet Boarding, Dog Health Tips

We’ve all heard the rhetoric on the importance of spaying and neutering to prevent pet population, whether it’d be in shelters or otherwise. In fact, certain facilities offering animal services, such as pet boarding services, require pets to be spayed or neutered else you wouldn’t be able to engage in their services. Ethical dog breeders also championed the cause, as it ensures that these dogs don’t end up in the hands of unscrupulous breeders.

Naturally, spaying and neutering have become synonymous with responsible pet ownership, and you may even be considering doing it for your own dog.

But there is more than meets the eye. As much as it has its benefits, many are not aware of the adverse side effects that come with desexing an animal. So before you make the decision that will change your pet’s physiology and more forever, take a look at the complexities that come with spaying and neutering an animal.

Reasons For Spaying And Neutering

There has been a general consensus that early desexing is one of the best decisions a pet owner can do for their pets. The reasons may vary but here are just a few:

1. Curb Animal Overpopulation

Most dogs come into heat twice per year and this heat cycle only ends when they pass on. Its frequent occurrence and the fact that they have a litter at one go means that overpopulation is a possibility that can’t be dismissed. Especially in Singapore, where land is scarce, having a surplus of companion animals is not ideal. As such, rather than imposing a force euthanisation or abandonment and neglect, reducing their numbers seem like the more ethical choice.

2. Behavioural Benefits

Pets that have been spayed and neutered are observed to have their behavioural issues corrected. Male dogs, especially, have shown a significant decrease in aggressive behaviour. Dogs that have the tendency to roam around, especially when in heat, will also have their desire to wander about greatly reduced.

3. Health Benefits

For most pet owners, the health benefits that come with spaying and neutering is most often than not, the primary motivation that drives their decision. Spaying a female dog can reduce the risk of mammary, uterine, cervical and ovarian tumours. Similarly, gonadectomy can also prevent testicular cancer in male dogs.

The Other Side Of The Coin: Reasons Not To Desex

Whilst it has been a pearl of conventional wisdom that desexing one’s dog is part and parcel of pet ownership; new research has shown spaying and neutering one’s dog may not be as beneficial as one thinks it is.

For one, spaying a dog is equivalent to a woman getting a hysterectomy. With the removal of the female sexual organ, the sudden loss of progesterone and estrogen will send the dog into instant menopause. It’ll undergo several psychological and physiological changes, with mood swings, depression, insomnia and skin changes being some of them.

According to Laura J Sanborn, M.S of Rutgers University, spaying significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer), hypothyroidism, recessed vulva, vaginitis and more. This is particularly the case for early spays.

Similarly, neutering a male dog may give birth to more negatives rather than positives. In many retrospective studies to date, it’s been observed that the removal of sexual organs early in the developmental periods of an animal causes cancer – only that these tumours are not located in the reproductive region. These cancers include cardiac hemangiosarcoma and osteosarcoma.

Conversely, dogs who are neutered prior to their first year is vulnerable to progressive geriatric cognitive impairment (canine dementia) and orthopaedic disorders. Moreover, they also bear an increased risk of hypothyroidism and obesity.

Cultural Perspectives In Desexing Dogs

Whilst it may be a no brainer in many parts of the world, early desexing is uncommon in many European countries. Some consider it as inhumane and even inhumane. In Sweden, for instance, 99% of male dogs and 93% of female dogs are intact. If you wish to spay or neuter your dogs, you will need to write a detailed letter with reasons why you want to do so and how your dog will benefit from the procedure. Even then, it’ll be hard to find a veterinarian who will go with the procedure as many are heavily against it.

The Bottom Line

Neutering or spaying your dogs is highly discouraged, especially if they are not yet fully matured. Beyond the fact that the removal of their sexual organs prevents them from unnecessary breeding, you would also remove hormone production that is crucial in their growth and immunity.

However, let’s not forget that choosing not to spay or neuter also comes with the risk of unwanted litters, and by extension, animal euthanasia.

As such, you’ll want to discuss with your veterinarian about the possibilities and whether the procedure is necessary for your dog’s health. Choosing to spay and neuter or otherwise must be done with careful considerations.