One common claim surrounding both cats and dogs says that spaying your pet before she has had a litter can have negative ramifications for her health and development. This urban legend often cites conditions like uterine cancer, incontinence and obesity as common consequences of spaying too early, but does it actually have any merit? In order to understand the answer and how it applies to your dog, you must first take a look at the risks associated with both options.
Considering the Stresses of Pregnancy
Dogs may not have a language with which to complain, but in all likelihood their pregnancies are just as uncomfortable and risky as our own. If the puppies do not develop normally or become turned sideways, they may become stuck in the birth canal and cause a possibly fatal condition known as dystocia. This is especially true of certain breeds, like bulldogs, that are naturally more prone to it. Furthermore, your dog will be particularly vulnerable to infection during pregnancy, including messy ones like urinary tract infections that may be difficult to resolve.
Understanding the Trauma of Birth
Even if your dog's pregnancy progresses normally and no dystocia occurs, you and your pet will still need to navigate the birthing process. This is a dangerous time, typically spent away from a vet's office, and as your dog begins labor, you must be able to spot the early signs that something has gone wrong. Your dog may fail to pass her pups due to dystocia, or she may retain a few after giving birth to the rest. In rarer cases, she may also hemorrhage during birth or suffer from an often fatal condition called eclampsia.
Avoiding the Complications of Motherhood
Once the puppies are safely out, you will find out whether your dog has strong maternal instincts or will abandon her litter. If your dog suffered complications during birth, it may be up to you to feed and wipe her puppies every few hours. In severe cases where your dog cannot or will not raise them, you may be a surrogate mother until they reach adulthood. Nursing dogs also frequently suffer from mastitis, a painful nipple condition that can lead to permanent disfigurement. After the puppies have reached adulthood, it will be your responsibility to find them safe and loving homes, as well.
Realizing the Benefits of Spaying Young
As risky as pregnancy and birth can be, is spaying young really any better? In fact, there are a few tangible benefits to spaying before your dog reaches sexual maturity, including reducing or even eliminating her risk of developing disorders like pyometra and breast or ovarian cancer. You will also not be contribution to the already overwhelming numbers of unwanted dogs in the United States. Instead of subjecting your pet to the stresses, risks and discomforts of breeding, it is often a more humane choice to simply take her in a vet, like Caring Hands Animal Hospital, in your area.