Dog Sterilization – Everything You Need To Know

white dog running on a muddy road surrounded by tall green grass

If you are planning to adopt a dog or have adopted a dog recently, you will come across a large dilemma – to sterilize or not.

Don’t worry, you are not the first person to have second thoughts about the procedure and certainly not the last. Your concern for your puppy is completely understandable. That is why we have prepared this detailed guide about sterilizing your dog.

Sterilizing is the surgery that is performed on pet animals to prevent them from reproducing. Sterilization is performed on both male and female dogs for many other health benefits in addition to putting a stop to reproduction.


What is the Difference Between Neutering, Spaying and Castration in Dogs?

Many first-time pet parents often confuse neutering with castration. Neutering applies to both male and female dogs, while castration is the surgery that is performed only on male dogs to sterilize them. On the other hand, spaying strictly refers to the surgery performed on female dogs. Let us understand what exactly is spaying and castrating and how can they benefit pet dogs.


What is Spaying?

Spaying is a surgery performed on female dogs, wherein their ovaries and uterus will be removed to stop the dog from further reproduction. If you have adopted an adult female dog from an adoption centre or an animal shelter, then the chances are that the dog has already been spayed. But it is always better to check in with the veterinary doctor or the adoption agency and sterilize your dog if it hasn’t been. Sterilizing female dogs is highly recommended for the multiple health benefits associated with it.


Benefits of Spaying Your Dog

No More Heat!

The female dogs usually enter a phase of heat in their reproduction cycle, which indicates that they are prepared for mating and ready to produce offspring. It will be easy to notice when the dog is in heat, as there will be changes taking place at a psychological, behavioural, and physical level. An unspayed dog will go into heat every two times a year, and most will even go through bleeding and anxiety in a very stressful condition.

Spaying the dogs before their first reproduction cycle will be better, as the latter problems can be avoided.


Will Not Have to Shelter the Puppies

Not all pet owners will be fond of taking care of the off-springs, as they come with added responsibilities and a huge work-load. It is one of the main reasons why a large number of puppies get left at animal shelters and sometimes are even abandoned in the streets!

Spaying the dogs will help with this problem, and will reduce the number of puppies that end up in the shelter homes each day. Moreover, if you want a new puppy or dog, you can always adopt another one and change its life for the better!


Major Health Benefits

The life expectancy of the dogs will increase once they are spayed. It is because dogs are also prone to infections in their uterus, breast cancers, and a lot more serious health conditions if they are not spayed. But once they are sterilized, it is very unlikely that they would develop such serious medical conditions that could endanger their lives.


A Positive Change In Their Behaviour

The aggressive side of the dog will simmer down, and they will become more approachable and friendly. The unspayed dogs, especially dogs when they are in heat, will constantly be on-the-edge, and they adopt a more aggressive approach during that period. By spaying the dogs, their nervousness and anxiety will disappear, and a positive change can be brought upon. The dog would become more affectionate and friendly.


What is Castration?

Castration is also a surgery that is performed to remove the reproductive organ of the pet animal, whether it be a cat or dog. But it is performed on the male dogs, wherein their testicles will be surgically removed while the dog is under anaesthesia. Castrating your male dog also has tons of benefits associated with it, whether it be at the physical level or the mental level.


Benefits of Castrating Your Dog

Will Put a Stop to Their Runaway Escapades

An unsterilized male dog is prone to have a rush of hormones, to the extent where it cannot be controlled. It will result in male dogs running away from their houses in search of mates. The best way to bring their hormonal level under control is by neutering the male dogs. Because of this, they will not feel the urge to escape the confines of their house and find a mate for themselves.


Reduces Fights with Other Dogs

As mentioned earlier, unsterilized dogs tend to go out-of-control when they want to find their mates. It might lead to situations wherein they will start chasing other dogs in an aggressive frenzy. But it may end up seriously if the dogs end up picking fights with wild or stray dogs in the streets. It may have serious repercussions, as they will have chances of contracting Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumour (CTVT), a contagious venereal tumour of dogs.


Will Become Calmer and Well-Behaved

The unsterilized male dogs tend to be more aggressive and unruly, causing trouble everywhere they go. It is largely due to the changes that will take place at both mental and physical levels because of their raging hormones.

Their raging hormones will result in the dogs becoming extremely territorial, which is often exhibited by mannerisms like urinating in places they consider as theirs. A positive change can be noticed, within a few weeks of neutering them, wherein they will adapt to a calmer lifestyle and become a lot more friendly and well-behaved.

Reduces the Odds of Contracting Diseases

Female dogs can avoid breast cancer and uterine infections by getting spayed. Similarly, male dogs can also steer clear of certain life-threatening diseases or illnesses such as testicular cancer (Prostate cancer), which is common among male dogs. Over 85% of male dogs with cancer are likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. It is a result of the formation of semen and not getting enough outlet, which in return causes stress on their testicles. It causes the pet dogs to suffer in pain, and they end up developing such severe health conditions. Sterilization will bring down the chances of getting prostate cancer, as the reproductive organ will be removed during sterilization surgery.


Helps Avoid Overpopulation

When the population of pets continues to grow at an excessive rate, it will become extremely difficult to find a shelter for all of them. As a result of which many dogs end up on the streets or spend their entire lives alone in animal shelters. The only possible way to put a stop to the ever-increasing population of pets is by sterilizing them so that they will not produce more offspring.


Myths Associated with Sterilizing Your Dog

Owing to the lack of awareness and education on this subject, a large number of pet owners are led to believe certain preconceived notions. They must be made aware of the consequences if their dogs are not sterilized. Here are some deep-rooted myths associated with sterilizing pet animals.


Myth #1: Spaying and Neutering Are Expensive Procedures

The cost of spaying and neutering will differ from clinic to clinic, depending upon the quality of service offered.

It is better to spend on sterilizing the dogs than having to take care of their litter and tend to all their behavioural and mental problems. Most of the times, there will not even be a necessity to neuter/spray if you are adopting adult dogs from animal shelters or pet homes, as they might have already been sterilized during their first reproduction cycle.

Pro Tip: If you just rescued a dog and want to get it sterilized at a good clinic, you might even be eligible for a discount. Many hospitals have this option. All you got to do is ask!


Myth #2: Will Make Your Dog Gain Weight

A common belief is that neutered or spayed dogs will become overweight after their surgery. But it is just a myth and nothing more than that, as only lack of exercise and no proper intake of food can contribute to gaining weight. Sterilizing will only help the dogs at both physical and mental levels.


Myth #3: It Is Unhealthy

It is a myth as sterilizing dogs does more harm than good. Spaying the female dogs can prevent breast cancer and infections in the uterus and, neutering the male dogs can reduce the chances of contracting testicular cancer, which is very common.

It is believed that the life expectancy of dogs can increase after getting them spayed and neutered. Sterilizing the dogs can prevent life-threatening situations that can even cause death and it can in no way do any harm to the dogs’ health.


Myth #4: Will Make the Male Dogs “Feel Less of a Male”

Sterilizing the male dogs will require their male reproductive organs to be removed surgically. It is this reason which makes the pet owners believe that their male dogs might feel less of a male after getting sterilized. However, neutering the male dogs will not affect their sexuality in any way, and the male dogs will continue to behave the way they were before the surgery.

This myth is nothing but an absurd concern, and the male dogs will not feel or become any less of a male after getting neutered.


Myth #5: Adult Dogs Need Not Be Sterilized

It is common for both female and male dogs to be neutered even before their first reproduction cycle or right after it. But it does not necessarily mean they can not be spayed or neutered beyond their puppy years.

It is normal to spay and neuter dogs of all ages. When sterilizing senior dogs, it is also necessary that the pet owners be conscious of the post-operative complications which can take place in aged dogs. It is of paramount importance that pet dogs are spayed and neutered. But it would be even more beneficial if they are sterilized during their very first reproduction cycle to reduce any complications.


Myth #6: The Surgery Will Pe Painful for the Dogs

The dogs almost feel nothing while they are being spayed or neutered, because they will be under anaesthesia when the surgery is being performed.

A qualified veterinary doctor will usually perform the surgery on the dogs in the veterinary hospital. To ensure no problem happens during the surgery, they will be usually kept under observation for hours together at the veterinary hospital. Moreover, they will be prescribed pain medications which will be of great help in dealing with it.


Feeding/Care Before Getting Operated

Certain precautions need to be followed, before the surgery, to ensure a hassle-free and safe operation.

It is recommended that the pet owners approach the veterinary doctors personally instead of just winging it with their assumptions. The veterinary hospital will give proper instructions, which are to be followed without making any compromise, as it might risk the health and safety of the dogs. Here are a few things the pet owners are supposed to take care of before the dogs are operated on:

  • It is recommended by veterinary doctors that the dogs shouldn’t be provided with water or food the night before the surgery. It is because it might cause vomiting and aspiration when the surgery is being performed on them
  • The pet owners must have a carrier prepared, as after the surgery they will not be allowed to stress themselves with excessive movements. If it is the first time the pet dogs will be using a carrier then some training could be given before the surgery to get them used to it
  • It is preferred that pet owners keep a check on the pets the night before the surgery so that they don’t run away from the house in search of prey. They must be kept within the confines of their home
  • The pet owners must ensure prior that they have proper sufficient pillows, blankets, and sheets for the dogs, to allow the pet dogs to have a comfortable rest after the surgery

These are few essential factors that must be taken care of before the surgery.


Feeding/Care After Getting Operated

The dogs usually require undivided attention and care after getting neutered and spayed, as it will be relatively difficult for them. They will be subjected to limited activity and will feel disoriented and grumpy after the surgery. It is mainly because of the after-effects of anaesthetic, which will still be present in their system for 24 hours after the surgery. The pet owners will be required to provide them with everything they will be needing to have a comfortable rest after the surgery. Here are a few things that the dog owners must concentrate on:

  • A monitored and controlled food diet must be maintained for the dogs after their surgery. The pet owners must ensure that there is no over intake of water or food, as it may cause vomiting. Small amounts of water can be fed, and any special food or treats must not be included in their diet at least for the first 10 days after the surgery. Some dogs might even refuse to eat for days together, in that case, it is better to consult a veterinary doctor who will recommend befitting treatment after taking a closer look
  • Since the dog might be disoriented from the anaesthesia, it is preferred that the pet owners set up a comfortable space just for them. Where they can rest and will not have to move much. The pet owners should also keep an eye on the dog for the first 10 days after the surgery, to make note of any abnormalities in their behaviour
  • For female dogs, the incisions will be present on their lower abdomen, and for the male dogs, it will be over their scrotum. These incisions mustn’t open up no matter what, which is why they are prohibited from performing any activity which will require too much movement. The pet owners must not let them out without a leash, and must always keep an eye on them
  • It is also preferred that the dogs are not left unattended with other dogs, as either, they might try mounting each other or a brawl will break out between them. Both of which will cause harm to the spayed and neutered dog, as they can’t strain their body with excessive movements after the surgery. The incisions can come apart easily, and there are high chances that it might get infected
  • The pet owners must also ensure that no liquid comes in contact with their incisions. It is because a certain surgical glue will be used on the incisions to protect them from any infections. They will dissolve easily upon coming in contact with any liquid. The dogs must not be bathed at least for the first 10 days after the surgery, and most importantly they must ensure that the dogs are not licking the incisions. To prevent this, an Elizabethan collar can be bought which will help a great deal

There are fewer chances of the sterilized dogs getting any infections or anything that might be considered serious after the surgery. It is because, after the surgery, the dogs will be kept under observation for an entire day or half the day, for the doctors to ensure that there is no adverse change.


Behavioural Changes in a Female Dog After Sterilization

Several behavioural changes can be noticed, among the female dogs after getting spayed. It will be a significant change taking place at both mental and physical levels, which will benefit both the parties, the pet owners, and the dogs. Here are a few of the behavioural changes which can be noticed in the female dogs:

  • The female dogs are prone to constantly being on the edge and nervous when they are on their heat. But once they are spayed, it will be a relief for them as they will never experience heat again. They will become much more relaxed and will be in control of their body and emotions to a great extent
  • Usually, when the female dogs are in heat, they will roam away from the house in search of their male counterpart. This is highly risky because they may either lose their way or get into accidents. But after getting spayed, the chances of the female dogs going in search of male dogs will become less likely and will become more affectionate to the pet owners
  • It is mostly the unsterilized male dogs that exhibit more aggressive behaviour, but it is not uncommon to find female dogs being aggressive as well. It might be from the frustration and the pain from heat, as they will go through bleeding. Sterilizing the female dogs can put a complete stop to all these behaviours
  • A very notable and common change is that the dogs will become extremely clingy after getting sterilized. They will constantly long for the pet owner’s affection and undivided attention. It is considered to be normal, as they will not feel the need to roam away from the house in search of mates after getting sterilized


Behavioural Changes in Male Dogs After Sterilization

Behavioural changes are exhibited in both female and male dogs, but more than 70% of male dogs exhibit more changes than female dogs after getting sterilized. The changes will be for the good, hence the pet owners will not have to unnecessarily worry about their sterilized dogs. Here are a few notable behavioural changes which take place amongst the male dogs:


No More Mounting

An unsterilized male dog will have a rush of hormones, and they can be often found mounting other dogs in a frenzy. This might be a little dangerous if they get in contact with wild or stray dogs, as they might contract Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumour (CTVT) from those dogs. But once the male dogs are neutered, they will not be subjected to such fluctuation hormones and will remain confined to their houses.


Less Aggressive

Male dogs are known to exhibit extremely aggressive behaviour when they are sterilized, and it owes its reasons for being territorial. They might start chasing other dogs and might even take a bite at the pet owners. But there will always be a notable change after the surgery, and their aggressive behaviour will come down drastically.

A study involving 591 dogs found that more than 50% of male dogs are believed to have become less aggressive after getting neutered. It is because they will not feel extremely territorial once they are neutered, this will help them to maintain a calm and relaxed state.


Change in Eating or Sleeping Pattern

It differs from one dog to another, and most of the time, the changes exhibited will not be constant. After getting neutered, about 40% of the male dogs will have a change in their eating pattern, wherein there will be a sudden increase in the consumption of food, and they might become overweight. They will start becoming less active and can be mostly found sleeping or lying down in their spot.


Eligibility Criteria for Dogs to Get Sterilized

Under exceptional cases, some dogs may not be suitable for getting spayed or neutered. Most pet owners will not be aware of these conditions, hence why it is imperative to consult a veterinary doctor beforehand. The dogs will be closely examined and, upon determining their condition they will be deemed eligible for the surgery. Here are a few criteria, which are taken into consideration for getting spayed or neutered:



Adult dogs of all ages, including adult dogs are eligible for spaying and neutering. Although, the puppies must at least be ten weeks old for the surgery.



Unhealthy dogs are not allowed to get spayed or neutered, as simply their body is not in a condition to take up surgery. It also includes dogs that are infected with any diseases or are generally ill.



According to the AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines, the small breeds under 45 pounds can be neutered when they are six months old. Most veterinary doctors consider a standard weight of two pounds for dogs to get neutered or spayed. Dogs that are overweight or underweight are considered non-eligible.

Here are some exceptional situations, wherein the dogs can still be spayed or neutered, without having to worry about their safety and health conditions:


Pregnant Dogs

A veterinary doctor will need to take a look at the pregnant dog, and depending upon what stage of pregnancy the dog is, a decision will be made. But pregnant dogs can often be found, getting spayed during their pregnancy to make sure that they don’t produce offspring.


When Menstruating or In Heat

Heat is the phase wherein the female dog will become sexually active and will be prepared to reproduce. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, It is okay to spay dogs during their heat, but it is necessary to be conscious of the serious aftermath; it may cause excess bleeding and sometimes even surgical complications. Hence it is always better to consult a veterinary doctor. But once they are spayed, the female dogs will stop menstruating.



All in all, the pros of sterilizing your dog certainly outweigh the cons (if any). Looking at the larger picture, there are almost zero downsides to neutering your dogs. In addition to a more affectionate and well-behaved dog, your buddy will also benefit from a reduced likelihood of mental stress and health diseases.

Unless your dog is currently sick, very old or very young, you certainly do not have to think twice about getting him or her sterilized. Visit your veterinarian as soon as you can!

Cat Sterilization – Everything You Need To Know

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