Dog Neutering and Spaying FAQs

Bringing a mischievous bundle of fur home is so much fun. When you’re teaching your puppy to sit and tickling their tummy, it’s unlikely that the thought of them having their own litter will even cross your mind.
Retriever outside with owner
Retriever outside with owner
Retriever outside with owner

However, as most dogs usually reach sexual maturity at around 6-7 months old, your pet could get pregnant when they are still puppies themselves! As a new dog owner, you’ll have to think about whether you want your dog to breed or not from an early age. By neutering your dog, you will help them avoid any unplanned pregnancies. It will also make them less susceptible to certain diseases and may also improve any behaviours that are sexually-driven.

Our Purina Pet Care Team are here to answer some of your commonly asked questions about neutering, so you’ll be able to make the best decision for you and your dog.

Spaying or neutering your dog plays a big part of responsible pet ownership. Make sure you have all of the information you need before making this big decision.

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Neutering or spaying a dog is a common routine operation, where the reproductive organs of your dog are removed. For male dogs this involves the removal of the testicles, and for females the procedure means the removal of their ovaries and sometimes womb.

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For male dogs, neutering can also be known as castration. This is usually a very straight-forward operation, but may be a little more invasive if your dog’s testicles haven’t dropped. If your dog’s testicles haven’t dropped by 6-12 months of age, then the

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For bitches, neutering can also be called spaying. This operation is more invasive than the one for males and is done via an incision along her tummy. You can request that the operation is conducted via keyhole surgery - doing so decreases recovery time b

This neutering procedure can prevent certain health problems for your dog and will give you the peace of mind of knowing you will not have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy.

Talk to your vet as soon as possible if you are thinking of neutering your dog, as they will be able to answer any questions that you have, such as possible side effects, the cost of neutering a dog, and more.

The operation to spay or neuter your dog is very routine, and your pet will be given an anaesthetic to ensure that they don’t feel any pain during the procedure.

You can request that your female dog is spayed via keyhole surgery. This is less invasive, and involves the removal of just their ovaries, so reduces pain and post-surgery recovery time.

After the operation, your vet will give your dog pain-relief injections to ease any post-surgery discomfort. They will also provide you with anti-inflammatory medicine and painkillers to give to your dog at home as part of their after-care.

As the operation is usually less-invasive for male dogs, they should only need medication for a day after surgery. Females will need medication for around 3 days after their operation, for a speedy recovery that is as painless as possible.

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There are several advantages of neutering that your dog can benefit from. These include decreased risk of illness as well as having an effect on behaviour – the benefits of the procedure vary depending on gender.

Benefits of neutering a male dog

  • Prevents testicular tumours and reduces the risk of prostate cancer and other infections.
  • Decreases the possibility of tumours and hernias around the bottom, which are common in older, un-neutered dogs.
  • Can reduce certain aggressive impulses, which can decrease the likelihood of your pet hurting himself, or others, by fighting.
  • Prevents your dog straying away from home in search of a mate.
  • It can improve sexually-driven behaviour such as marking his territory or trying to mate with objects/people.
Female dogs

  • Reduces the chances of her developing breast (mammary) cancer.
  • Prevents uterine and ovarian cancer, as well as other life-threatening uterine infections.
  • Removes the risk of an unplanned pregnancy.
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Your dog or bitch should reach sexual maturity at around 6-7 months old, but this can vary slightly depending on their breed. So that your dog can avoid an unwanted pregnancy, it’s best to get them neutered before they reach this age.

Some vets prefer to allow bitches to have one season before neutering them. This can be tricky as dogs can only be neutered 3 months after their season has ended, meaning a carefully monitored wait in between.

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To get your dog neutered, book an appointment with your vet. You may be required to bring your pet in for a pre-anaesthetic check-up before they have the operation.

Your vet will request that you don’t feed your dog the night before their anaesthetic. Make water available as normal, but pick it on the morning of the procedure to make sure that they don’t drink anything before surgery.

You will usually be asked to drop your dog into the vets in the morning, and you should be able to pick them up later that day.

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If you want to neuter your dog but cannot afford the cost, speak to your local animal charity. PDSA and many other organisations offer financial assistance to help you cover the cost of neutering a dog.

Your dog is bound to be a little drowsy after their operation, but they should be back to their energetic, excitable selves very soon. As the operations vary depending on gender, so does the recovery process. There are a few things you can do to help your pal heal as quickly as possible.

Female dogs

Female dogs

  • Stay with or near to your pet for the first night after their operation, just in case.
  • The anaesthetic used for your dog’s operation can make her a little disorientated, so she might whine or cry. This shouldn’t be anything to worry about, but contact your vet if it continues.
  • Give your bitch bland food for her first few meals after her operation, as her stomach may be a little sensitive.
  • You will be provided with medication to give to your dog to aid her recovery. This can include painkillers, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine.
  • Your vet will organise appointments 3 and 10 days after their operation to check that they are recovering well.
  • Unless you’ve opted for keyhole surgery, neutering female dogs requires quite a large incision. Check the wound regularly to ensure that it is healing and contact your vet if you notice it worsening in any way.
  • To stop your dog from licking, biting or scratching her stitches, she will have to wear a “cone” buster collar. You can dress her in an old t-shirt if she finds the collar too uncomfortable.
  • To protect her stitches and allow them time to heal, prevent your pet from jumping and walk her on a lead until she is given the all-clear by the vet at her 10 day appointment.
  • If non-dissolvable stitches are used, your vet will provide a date when they should be removed. This is usually around 7-10 days after the procedure.
Male dogs

Male dogs

  • Stay with or near to your pet for the first night after their operation, just in case.
  • Your pet might whimper or whine as they recover from the anaesthetic. Don’t worry – this may just be because they are disorientated. If it continues, contact your vet.
  • Dogs can sometimes experience an upset tummy as a reaction to the anaesthetic. Help them avoid this by giving them bland food for their first few meals after their operation.
  • Give any medication provided by your vet for post-surgery care. This can include painkillers, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine.
  • Your vet will schedule check-ups 3 and 10 days after your pet’s operation to monitor their recovery.
  • Your dog can go outside the day after their operation, but walk them on a lead until they get the all-clear after their 10 day check-up.
  • To stop them licking or scratching their wound, dogs will have to wear a buster “cone” collar for up to 10 days after their operation. If this irritates your pet, wearing a t-shirt may be more comfortable for them.

All dogs are bound to be a little drowsy after their operation, but they should be back to their normal, lively selves very soon. After that, the recovery process varies per gender, as the operations are different. There are a few things you can do to help your furry boy or girl heal after being neutered.

Weight gain

Weight gain

Sometimes neutering is associated with weight gain due to the hormonal changes that take lace after neutering. You can help them stay fit with regular exercise and by reducing their calorie intake with smaller food portions, as they won't may not need quite as much food as before. Read our information on Keeping Fit and Healthy for further guidance.

You can help them stay fit with regular exercise and by reducing their calorie intake with smaller food portions. Read our information on Keeping Fit and Healthy for further guidance. You can also switch them to a lower-calorie food. One of our lighter formulas can help:

There are several drawbacks to not neutering a dog, which vary by gender. You should consider these points carefully before choosing not to neuter your dog.

Disadvantages of an un-neutered male dog

Disadvantages of an un-neutered male dog

  • He can be more likely to stray away from home in search of a mate.
  • He may be more likely get involved in fights with other dogs.
  • He may display more sexually-driven behaviours such as humping and urinating to mark his territory.
Disadvantages of an un-spayed bitch

Disadvantages of an un-spayed bitch

  • She will go into heat once every eight months, which lasts for up to three weeks. During this time you will have to be very aware of any amorous dogs in the area.
  • She will menstruate and secrete a very unpleasant smell when in heat.
  • She can fall pregnant. Caring for a litter of puppies can be very expensive. Even if you plan to sell the puppies, you are unlikely to make a profit. It's best to leave breeding to professional dog breeders.
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Often dogs do not show many obvious physical symptoms until they are well into their pregnancy. You can read more about the signs of pregnancy in our Spotting the Signs of Pregnancy article if you think that your dog is expecting, speak to your vet who will be able to confirm this. It may be possible that she can still be neutered whilst pregnant, which will end her current pregnancy and prevent any more in the future.

Your vet will be able to give you more information to help you make a decision about neutering your dog whilst she is pregnant. At the end of the day, neutering is completely your decision to make, based on what is best for you and your dog. If you have any further questions about neutering your dog, speak to your vet.

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If you’d like more information on Dog Neutering and Spaying FAQs or have any other queries, contact our PETCARE EXPERT TEAM