One of the first discussions we have with new puppy parents in our veterinary clinic is about spaying or neutering their new puppy. There is a ton of information out there that talks about the benefits of spaying and neutering a dog. Many of our patients ask does fixing a dog calm them down? Usually because the energy of their cute little puppy has overwhelmed them. Oddly, we have many a pet owner that are reluctant about taking this step.
Most are concerned about putting their cute puppy through neuter surgery or the pain of spaying. They ask if there any side effect of such surgeries? Well, there indeed are. In this article, let’s give a clear picture about benefits and risks of spaying and neutering your dog. This will cover all four legged fur babies, both male and female dogs.
Table of Contents
- Is spaying and neutering reversible?
- Why should I spay or neuter my dog?
- Why does fixing a dog calm them down?
- What are the benefits of spaying and neutering your dog?
- Will your dog put on weight after neutering?
- Does fixing a dog calm them down?
Is spaying and neutering reversible?
A funny story from a veterinarian colleague. He once asked a dog owner if his female dog was spayed already. The patient answered: No, not recently. Although this answer is a bit funny and can make us laugh, in reality it’s a bit weird. This means that the pet owner didn’t know the simple well know fact that spaying surgery is irreversible.
Spay or neuter your dog only if you don’t want puppies from them. Spaying and neutering cannot be reversed. Once spayed or neutered, your dog will remain unable to reproduce for the rest of their life.
Why should I spay or neuter my dog?
There are two sides of the story. If you want to avoid your dog becoming pregnant ever, then that’s a huge benefit of spaying your dog. The Humane Society and other shelters are full of dogs and cats from an unwanted litter. However, if you think you might breed your dog at some point, then you should not spay or neuter it.
We aren’t going to debate about whether anyone should or should not breed their dog with facts like shelters are already full and is it responsible to add to the dog overpopulation.
Yes most pet shelters are full, but we support responsible breeders who choose mating partners carefully and add to the development of a specific breed. We applaud the efforts of those who take care for, socialize, find good homes for puppies and do not consider it as easy money. You should not get into dog breeding for a quick buck as even the best dog breeders actually spend more money than they make from dog breeding.
It costs a lot to raise a litter of puppies properly. The veterinary exams, immunizations, and feeding all cost a lot of money. Every breeder that comes into our veterinary clinic do it because they love that particular breed. They do it because they want to get the best puppy for either showing, hunting, or obedience trials. The rest of the litter is then sold. They are always saying it’s for the love, and in no way for the money because it costs them much more than they make.
Why does fixing a dog calm them down?
One of the most noted benefits of spaying and neutering is that it will affect the behavior of your dog. Spaying and neutering triggers huge changes in the hormonal system of your dog which means that many behavior problems should fade away. This includes:
- Aggression – Aggressive behavior which is usually associated with intact male dogs but is something that even a female dog can display. This is because dog aggression is commonly initiated by the hormone testosterone. The neuter surgery removes the testes (also commonly called “balls”) so no testosterone produced. This means testosterone levels will drop after the castration. Adequate training however, will still be necessary if you are dealing with a dog that shows too much aggression.
- Territory marking – Territory marking is highly related to your dogs sexual needs. Both male and female dogs mark their territory. It’s especially bad if your dog marks. Marking behavior is a fancy way to say pees on things not to eliminate, but to say “this is mine”. They can mark your belongings, ruining them. For example, our first dog was not neutered for most of his life. During adolescence (about 2 years old), he got upset and “marked” my work shirts in my closet. He peed on the entire lower row of my hanging shirts because he was upset that I didn’t let him win a game of tug of war. Clearly his testosterone levels were very high and he was trying to figure out if he was ready to take over as the alpha male of our household. Female dogs also mark, but do it mainly when they are in heat to announce their presence. Neutering and spaying will significantly reduce marking behaviors in dogs.
- Wandering – Wandering is a common problem for male dog owners. This undesirable behavior according to the Humane Society is much less for a neutered dog. If your dog escapes, it leaves you with tons of worries and possible legal problems. Neutering a male dog is the primary thing to do in order to reduce wandering behavior. But this not only applies to males. Female dogs that have not been spayed tend to escape and wander around when they are in heat too.
- Disobedience – Behavior studies show that spayed and neutered dogs are more likely to be cooperative in obedience training. This is because their hormonal system is less in control of their behaviour and their their natural rhythm is more likely to control their minds.
- Woof, Grrrr – Howling, barking, and growling behaviour just like the other unwanted behaviours mentioned above, will be exhibited less and less after the spaying and neutering surgery of your dog.
You will definitely notice a decrease in undesirable behaviors by fixing your pup. Please remember that you still have to consider at least some additional behavior management techniques if you are dealing with an overly aggressive, excessive barking, or adult dogs to that are have made marking or barking a habit. The best advice we give to our patients in this situation is to start by reaching to your local dog trainer. Don’t be surprised if they suggest you start with neutering or spaying your dog.
What are the benefits of spaying and neutering your dog?
Dog health issues regarding spaying or not spaying is a double edged sword. On one hand it may exclude some illness and on the other hand it may cause some as well.
At first, be aware if your dog has any illness that makes them a high risk when using general anesthesia. In most cases, it is a heart related problem but might be others as well. Always mention any health issues with your veterinarian when discussing surgery.
Sterilization removes the possibility of some genital related diseases. For example, prostate disease for males or uterine inflammation and mammary tumor for female dogs.
On the other hand, female dogs may encounter urinary incontinence after sterilization. The possibility of this happening is very small, but this fact does not help if it happens to your dog.
Of course you understand that sterilization is a surgical procedure. And there is always a risk of complications during any surgical operations or postoperative period. While death can occur in rare cases, the good news is that spaying or neutering your dog is less likely to cause complications when compared to other surgeries.
One of the greatest benefits of “fixing” your puppy is their overall lifespan may be longer. Research from done at the University of Alabama found an increased lifespan for sterilized pets.
Will your dog put on weight after neutering?
Obesity is a very common problem in sterilized dogs as studied in this paper from Science Direct. However, it’s not spaying or neutering what makes your dog fat. The reason for the weight gain is that sterilization makes your dog less active due to a lower metabolic rate. This means that you have to change your dog’s diet and include more activities. This means making sure a high level of activity is in your dog’s daily routine. Learn about your dog’s breed and their natural instincts. For example sporting dogs were bred for their stamina. So if you have a Golden Retriever that was bred to go hunting with you all day, you need to give them a lot of daily exercise.
Diet changes might include switching to food that is specially designed for sterilized dogs or food with a lower amount of fat. You can also lower the amount of food you give your dog. Please consult with your veterinarian on dietary changes before and after the surgery.
Does fixing a dog calm them down?
From our personal experience (see our story below) and all the stories from our patients, it is very hard to calm a female dog in heat. It is not much easier with intact males either when a female in heat is nearby. And it sure is a nightmare when you have both genders at home and your female is in heat.
Boys wander around when somewhere nearby (it can be miles away), there is a female in heat. This triggers numerous problems for your male dog:
- Dog fights and injuries – Dog fights and injuries to aggressive male dogs happen when competing for the attention of the opposite sex.
- Traffic accidents – Traffic accidents can happen when wandering around on streets with high traffic. A fact that your male dog has only one thought on his mind does not help here.
- Mean people – There are people who won’t like your male dog wandering unattended. Especially owners of a female in heat. And you can’t blame them. You are responsible for your dog’s behavior.
Life is not much easier for female dog owners:
- Restless nights – Females in heat are quite nervous. Especially during the night when you the pet owner needs to get some sleep. It is not easy to calm a female dog when she’s in heat.
- Uninvited guests – We found many uninvited guests when our Newfoundland girl was in heat. There was a nasty toy terrier visiting regularly. Did I mention that about a dozen dogs were also hanging out in my backyard all day and night too. As you can imagine, it was quite uncomfortable.
- Unwanted pregnancy – Thankfully we managed to escape this side effect of having a female dog in heat. However we worried about that and the nightmare about rising Toy terrier and Newfoundland mix puppies if that persistent male got in.
- Other worries – Along with the above mentioned concerns, there are plenty other not so nice parts of caring for dog in heat. For instance, just take a look at our article on the heat symptoms in dogs. It’s a lot to take and not everyone can handle them easily.
So, are you still undecided about spaying or neutering your dog? Don’t do it if you are planning to use your dog for breeding or you think that dog is not healthy enough to undergo surgery.
If you don’t intend to breed your dog, we think the benefits of spaying and neutering a dog are much greater than any disadvantages and possible side effects. However, if you are still in doubt, please consult with your veterinarian and ask as much questions as you can think of.
Back to the question this article is about, does fixing a dog calm them down? Now you understand that now only will the surgery calm your puppy down, it can increase their lifespan. Additionally, other unwanted behaviors will fade. This will go a long way towards a happy life for you and your dog. And keeping your Pet Happy is what we all want.