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Published: Nov 05, 2012

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.