Spaying a female consists of removing the source of hormones that control reproduction. In females, this involves removing the ovaries (ovariectomy) or the ovaries and uterus (ovariohysterectomy). While the primary purpose of spaying a dog is to prevent reproduction, there are also many other benefits and some risks that we need to take into consideration.

BENEFITS of Spaying: 1. Breast cancer: mammary tumors are VERY common in intact female dogs and the chances increases significantly with age. About half of these tumors are malignant. The earlier the pet is spayed, the less likelihood there is for breast cancer (0.5% chance if spayed before first heat, 8% chance before second heat, and >26% chance if after second heat). 2. Pyometra: this is a bacterial infection in the uterus that is brought on because of hormonal changes in the uterine environment. This can cause death if left untreated. ~25% of intact females <10years of age will develop a pyo. The chances increase with age and are breed dependent. 3. Cancer of reproductive organs: tumors in ovaries, uterus, and vulva are uncommon but the risks increases in intact females. 4. Population control: reduce the number of unwanted and uncared for puppies 5. Risks of reproduction: risk of sexually transmitted diseases and risks of pregnancy complications (dystocia, pregnancy toxemia, uterine rupture, etc.)

RISKS of Spaying: 1. Surgical risks: like all surgeries, there are risks of complications during surgery and while under general anesthesia. 2. Urinary incontinence: this is common in middle aged to older spayed female dogs. The greatest risk is if spayed before 3 months of age. 3. Obesity: spayed animals tend to eat more and exercise less than intact animals so they are predisposed to becoming obese. 4. Cancer: in dogs, there has been some reports that suggest that there is an increase likelihood of hemangiosarcoma, transitional cell carcinoma, osteosarcoma. However, typically, spayed dogs live longer so it is difficult to assess if the likelihood is increased because longevity is increased. The risk is still very low.

WHAT AGE SHOULD YOU SPAY? This is somewhat breed dependent. Typically, I recommend between 6-9 months old for your average small to medium size dog.

If you have any questions, talk to your vet about when the best time to spay your pup is!

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