VCA Dakota Ridge Animal Hospital
Published: Nov 05, 2012

Back to News

If you've recently adopted a new canine companion, you may be considering dog spaying or neutering. The two terms mean essentially the same thing, but spaying refers to female pets, and neutering refers to males. For the purposes of this article, we'll use the term "spaying," but the suggestions and facts listed below are applicable to both genders unless otherwise noted.

Spaying can be difficult on your pet, and should be considered a serious surgery. There are certain things you can do to help your pet prepare for this procedure, and ease any discomfort she may experience during her recovery.

Why spay
While spaying is primarily a way to prevent dog pregnancy, there are other benefits to the procedure, reports VCA animal hospitals. For female dogs, the surgery can help prevent uterine infection, known as pyometra, as well as breast cancer. Dogs who are spayed prior to their first "heat" will have less than a 0.5 percent chance of developing the illness. The procedure also eliminates the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.

In male dogs, neutering lowers a canine's risk of prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis, as well as hormone-related diseases. It can also eliminate the risk of testicular cancer, and may treat some behavioral problems, like dog aggression or the tendency to roam.

When to spay
You should always consult a veterinarian about this procedure, but typically it's recommended to have your dog spayed when she is around six months old. However, dogs can be spayed before or after this period.

Preparing your dog for surgery
During a consultation with your vet, he or she will give you advice on how to make sure your dog is prepared for a successful surgery. Typically you'll be told not to give your canine any food after midnight on the evening before surgery, according to the ASPCA, though this rule may vary depending on the age of the dog.

The recovery period
After the surgery is over, you'll need to monitor your dog's health to make sure that she recovers well. If at any point you suspect she may be suffering a complication, it's essential that you bring her to a vet hospital right away. Your dog will benefit from a quiet, calm space to recover. Too much physical activity should be avoided during the recovery period, suggests the ASPCA. She may be tempted to lick the incision site, but this should be discouraged, perhaps with the help of Elizabethan collars for dogs.


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Emergency Care

In case of emergency during normal business hours, please call us immediately. If you have an emergency outside of our normal business hours, please contact a local emergency animal hospital.