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The Myths and Facts of Spaying and Neutering

The animal population is exploding. Each year millions of unwanted pets are born and disposed of. The primary causes of pet euthanasia are the failure by owners to have their pets spayed or neutered and animals that are abandoned or relinquished to shelters because of obedience problems. This is tragic and reprehensible ... but also preventable.

The Procedure
The procedure of removing the reproductive organs of either a male or a female animal is called neutering. Specifically, the procedure for females is call spaying. The procedure for males is called castration or altering, but is also loosely called neutering.

The obvious reason spaying and neutering is so critical is to prevent unwanted, accidental pregnancies. There are many more benefits, though, that are good for the pet as well as the owner.

This preventive surgery can be performed as early as 2 to 4 months of age. Recent scientific research shows evidence that a younger puppy or kitten does better with the anesthesia and the surgical process. Talk to your veterinarian about when your particular pet should be spayed. Many veterinarians still choose to perform this routine procedure at about 5 to 6 months of age.

For their own sakes, all female dogs or cats should be spayed unless they are going be professionally bred or shown. It does not matter if she will ever be allowed outdoors unsupervised, the physical benefits of an early spaying operation are so great that there are no valid reasons not to have it performed. In addition, you avoid behavioral problems that are related to sexual drive in an unspayed female pet.

Physical Benefits of an Early Spay
It is simply not reasonable that a female puppy should be allowed to have one heat or one litter before she's spayed. There are no benefits to be gained from waiting and many to be gained by an early spaying operation.

A pet in heat will bleed and consequently spot the carpet and furniture. Owners who have indoor pets have to cover the furniture to avoid this spotting. Carpet will also need to be neutralized to remove the smell and the stain. Although there are little pads that can be worn with a strap, most pets find them uncomfortable and try to take them off.

A female pet that is spayed before her first heat has a greatly reduced risk of developing ovarian, uterine or breast cancer, the second most common malignancy in pets. In addition, she will never develop pyometra (an infection of the uterus). Pyometra can become seriously life-threatening and require an emergency spay operation. These infections very commonly occur in older, unspayed females.

Of course, an early spay operation also prevents an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy. If your unspayed female puppy does accidentally become pregnant, it can be potentially damaging to her health, since she is very young. A six-month-old puppy is in no way suited for motherhood.

As to the argument that spayed female pets always get fat, this is not necessarily the case. It is true that spayed pets can be more prone to obesity, but that's because as a female puppy nears physical maturity she becomes somewhat less physically active and requires fewer calories for energy. Physical maturity often follows shortly behind a spaying operation. Therefore, the spaying is often blamed if a puppy begins to put on weight. If you do not overfeed your pet and give her plenty of daily exercise, she will not gain too much weight. If you don't, she'll get fat, whether or not she's been spayed.

Behavior Benefits of an Early Spay
During the stage in the heat cycle when a female is receptive toward males, she may attempt to escape from the house. She may also indulge in territorial urine marking, especially if there are other pets (male or female) in the household or immediate neighborhood.

An unspayed female may also suffer from a disorder known as "false pregnancy" which mimics all of the physical and behavioral stages of pregnancy, even though there are no fertilized eggs. It's especial common in pets that are very dependent on their owners, and can occur even when no mating has taken place. Some females go through a false pregnancy every time they come into heat.

A very troublesome side effect of having an unspayed female is the necessity of keeping her away from unwelcome Romeos and keeping them away from her. Males will appear on your doorstep, hang around your yard and fight one another. In addition to these problems, female cats and even some dogs may "cry." You think your pet is in pain and take it to the vet only to find out it is in heat and looking for a mate.

At around six or seven months of age, your male will become sexually mature. The operation is best performed when the animal is young, although it can be done at any age in a pet's life. As with spaying, this procedure is now considered preventive surgery.

Neutering does not change the male's masculine appearance. He will still acquire his secondary sex characteristics, regardless of his age when the procedure is done.

Castration doesn't affect hunting ability or watchdog behavior. He most likely will be less aggressive in some areas, especially toward other males. As with altered females, male pets will not get fat if given a good, balanced diet and enough exercise.

Physical Benefits of an Early Neuter
Unaltered males are subject to a number of hormone-related medical problems as they age. They may develop prostate, perianal and testicular tumors and cancers. Neutering greatly reduces the risk of these medical problems.

Behavior Benefits of an Early Neuter
Neutering is particularly effective as a preventive measure against a number of common behavioral problems.

One aspect of male canine behavior is aggression toward other males. As a male reaches full physical and sexual maturity, he becomes more and more protective of what he considers "his" territory. His definition of "his" area tends to change, and the boundaries enlarge, until sometimes an entire square block or country mile falls within his territory.

Often, owners are not aware of this until a tragedy occurs and their male or another male is severely hurt or even killed. "But he's always so gentle" is a common cry of an upset owner in these circumstances. And he is -- until another male invades property that he considers his own. Then his male territorial instinct overrides any social behavior he may have learned and he defends his turf, sometimes to the death.

Along with this instinct comes roaming behavior. A sexually active male must patrol the boundaries of his property and constantly widen them. In addition, he's always on the lookout for receptive females and, if there is a female in heat within many miles, he'll find her. Along with this comes the potential to be hit by a car or otherwise injured, or become lost. Often, a male hangs around the area for days on end, apparently forgetting that he even has a home. Terrible fights can occur when several males pursue a female in heat, even if she is confined indoors, and the resulting veterinarian bills may be staggering. Research shows us that of all the positive behavior changes that are a result of neutering, roaming shows the greatest degree of change.

An uncastrated male may indulge in territorial urine marking -- urinating on every upright surface he can find. This is usually related either to a female coming into heat somewhere within his range or another male moving into the neighborhood. You may not be aware of either occurrence, but you will soon know it when your housetrained pet has suddenly "broken training" and is marking up your house. In the absence of other male animals, males may also take out their aggressive territorial protection on humans. Overprotectiveness of family members may manifest itself by growling or nipping at visitors in your home.

For male cats, a neutered male is less likely to spray (almost all unneutered males cats spray). They also yowl as if in terrible pain. You may think your cat is in pain and take it to the vet only to find out he is in search of a mate.

All of these behaviors can usually be corrected by a combination of neutering and training, but it's difficult to break a habit that has become ingrained.

Neutering makes life more pleasant because it removes some of the behavioral traits with which people find it difficult to live -- traits that may land the pet in a shelter.

The Surgery
The operation itself is certainly not cruel, but a fairly simple and routine procedure that actually helps the pet. When done on a young animal, it entails, at most, one or two days of discomfort.

Owners will be given instructions about withholding food and water to the pet prior to the surgery. Follow these directions carefully.

Most veterinarians will give a thorough physical prior to the anesthesia. It often includes a blood test and urinalysis. These tests are necessary to make sure there aren't underlying medical problems such as kidney or liver disease, diabetes or chronic infection that would put the patient at greater risk during surgery.

For females, the ovaries and uterus will be removed, thus, eliminating the production of eggs. For males, the testes will be removed, thus, eliminating the source of sperm.

After the operation, the animal will continue to be monitored. Some veterinarians choose to keep the animal overnight for observation, but most animals that have surgery in the morning can go home late in the afternoon to rest and recuperate.

Again, there will be specific instructions given to the owner about the care of the pet for the next several days. Follow these directions carefully and your pet will recover quickly and completely in a short while.

To summarize, spaying and neutering is good for everyone:

It's good for your pet. It reduces the risk of certain reproductive cancers and diseases for both males and females. Spayed or neutered pets also generally live longer. For females, it eliminates the heat cycle and therefore, the nervousness, blood and unwelcome males. For males, it stops the mating desire, reduces mounting and the tendency to roam.

It's good for you. Usually less expensive to license, a discount is given if your pet is spayed or neutered. It reduces the risk of unwanted litters. There will be no more problems with blood stains, males breaking into your yard, pets running away in search of a mate, and the job of taking care of and finding homes for an unwanted litter. Your pet will be happier and so will you.

It's good for the community. Homeless pets often create serious problems. They destroy property, spread disease and cost a lot of money to control. It's an agonizing job to euthanize animals because of irresponsible breeding.
Reasons People do not Spay or Neuter Their Pet
"It would be too cruel to do that to my pet!"
Your pet does not have the ability to hold a grudge against you because you made this decision. If your pet could talk, he or she would thank you for it!

"I'm afraid of putting my pet under. Won't it be painful?"
Although neutering and spaying is a surgical procedure that does require general anesthesia, the pet feels nothing during the procedure and the risks are minimal. Certainly the benefits far outweigh the risks. There is only a slight discomfort and the pet will usually be back on their feet with normal activities within 24 to 72 hours.

"I don't have enough money for this procedure."
You can't afford not to do it. Most communities have humane shelters and low-cost spay/neuter clinics that offer affordable services. Contact your veterinarian, your local shelter, or the PETsMART store nearest you. It can be much more costly to you if you have a pregnant female with pups to take care of, or if you have to split the veterinarian bills with your neighbor because your male got their female pregnant.

"I want to breed my pet ... it's a purebred."
Purebred breeding is very complicated. There are some things you should ask yourself before you do this. Do you have a five-generation pedigree for the animal? Is there a minimum of eight titles (AKC/UKC: Champions, Obedience CD, CDX, etc.) in the last three generations? Does the animal have a stable temperament? Does the animal fit the breed standard? Are the animal and prospective mate healthy? Is the animal certified free of genetic diseases? Do you have the time it takes to breed? A good breeder will be careful about the animals they breed and will offer to take a animal back if it does not work out.

"I can make some extra money selling the puppies/kittens."
Breeding dogs and cats isn't always a money making experience. There are the veterinary bills, shots, food, and advertising costs. There is also the time spent caring for the puppies and kittens and showing them to prospective owners. Don't forget the temptation to keep "just one" that often happens with the first litter. What if the pregnancy puts the mother in medical danger that causes her to suffer or even die -- can you put a price on the loss of a pet? Also, for every heat cycle a female goes through, her odds of having medical problems later multiplies by ten. By the time the puppies or kittens are sold, has a significant amount of money really been made?

"My male cat/dog will be kept indoors away from any females."
Male pets will smell females in heat and many have been known to escape their homes to reach the female.

"I want my male dog to be a guard dog and I need to keep him aggressive."
Most pets will be more reliable and responsible after neutering and are often easier to train because of stabilized hormones. What makes a male dog a good guard dog is training, not hormones.

"My kids need to learn about the birds and the bees -- I want them to see the birth process."
Children can experience the birthing process in other ways rather than at the expense of the family pet.



     This method of housebreaking is focused on preventing "accidents" instead of waiting for accidents to happen.  The goal is to make it easy for the puppy to do the right thing in the first place.  Training in this way is faster and more effective than punishing the dog for mistakes. YOU play the most important part in the success or failure of this method - you must be patient, determined and reliable for it to work.  If you
already own an adult dog with housebreaking problems, you can use this method to start fresh just as you would with a puppy.
        This method also requires the use of a dog crate or at least, a small, confined area for the pup to stay in when he can't be supervised.  A crate isn't cruel!  It's your dog's own private room where he can rest and stay safe, secure and out of trouble.  Just like a small child, your puppy needs to be protected from hurting himself and destroying your furniture.  A crate will make the job so much easier!
        The first few weeks of owning a puppy are some of the hardest and most important.  Spending extra time and effort now will pay off in a big
way. Don't blame the puppy if you're lazy!
        Before you start, here are some essential housebreaking facts:
     *1.  Adult dogs can be housebroken in the same way as puppies.
      *2.  Puppies have limited bladder control.
    *3.  Dogs & puppies like to be clean and to sleep in a clean area
      *4.  All dogs do best when kept to a routine schedule
      *5.  Dogs have to go potty when...
               - they wake up in the morning or after a nap
               - within 1/2 hour after eating
               - before they go to sleep
 If a dog and especially a puppy is not allowed to relieve itself
          at those times, it will most likely have an accident.  Don't
          wait for the dog to "tell" you that it has to go out.  Just
          assume that he does and put him outside.
Housebreaking Baby Puppies
Baby puppies, under 3 months of age, have limited bladder control and reflexes.  They usually don't know they're going to "go" until the moment they do!  It's not realistic to expect them to tell you ahead of time. If you're observant, you'll see that a puppy who's looking for a place to go potty will suddenly circle about while sniffing the floor. The sniffing is instinct - he's looking for a place that's already been used.
If he can't find one, he'll start one!  By preventing accidents in the house, you'll teach him that the only appropriate bathroom is the one outside!

Ideally, you're reading this before you've brought your new puppy home.  If you already have your puppy, just pick up the schedule at an appropriate place.

 Set up a dog crate or small, confined area (the smaller the better.)  Using a dog crate will be more effective.  The size of the crate is important - if it's too large, the puppy will have room to use one end as a bathroom.  If you've bought a crate for him to "grow into", you can also get dividers to reduce the inner space while he's small.  If he must be left alone while you're at work, then a larger crate is okay.  Put a stack of newspapers at one end for him to use when you can't be home to let him out.

Also in the crate should be a water dish (you can get one that attaches to the side of the crate and is harder to spill), sleeping pad and toys.  Put the crate where he isn't shut away from the family.  If you're
using a confined area instead, a baby gate across the doorway is preferable to closing the door and isolating your puppy.

 Your puppy might not like the crate at first.  Don't give in to his complaining or tantrums!  If you're sure he isn't hungry or has to go potty, ignore his yowling.  If he gets really obnoxious, reach inside the
crate, give him a little shake by the scruff of his neck and say NO in a deep, stern voice.  Eventually he'll settle down and sleep which is what crates are for!  If you give a tempting treat every time you put the dog in his crate, he'll soon look forward to going in.

The crate is intended to be his sleeping and feeding place and is where he should be when you can't keep a close eye on him.  If you give him the run of the house at this age, you can expect accidents!  Dogs
instinctively keep their sleeping areas clean.  If you've allowed him to go potty when he needs to, he won't dirty his crate if he can help it.  Once he's developed better control, he won't need the newspapers unless
you're going to be gone all day.  Change the papers several times a day if  they've been soiled.

Puppy's First Night Home

Get off on the right foot at the beginning!  Carry the puppy from your car to the yard.  Set him on the grass and let him stay there until he potties.  When he does, tell him how wonderful he is!  After bringing
the pup inside, you can play with him for an hour.  Plan on taking the puppy outside every two hours (at least) while he's awake.  Don't wait for him to tell you that he has to go!

 Feed the puppy his supper in his crate.  Don't let him out for half an hour and when you do, carry him outside to potty before you do anything else.  Wait for him to have a bowel movement before bringing him back in.  Some pups get their jobs done quickly, others may take half an hour.  If he's being slow, walk around the yard encouraging him to follow you.  Walking tends to get things moving, so to speak!

***Always take the puppy outside first thing when you let him out of the crate and always CARRY the puppy to the door!!  This is important.  Puppies seem to have a reflex peeing action that takes affect the moment they step out of the crate onto your carpeting.  If you let him walk to the door, he'll probably have an accident before he gets there.  Part of this training method is psychological - you want the puppy to feel grass under his feet when he goes to the bathroom, not your carpeting!

After another short play period, take the pup outside before bedtime, then tuck him into his crate for the night.  If he cries during  the night, he probably has to go out.  Carry him outside to potty, then put him back in the crate with a minimum of cuddling.  If you play with him, he might decide he doesn't want to go back to sleep!  Puppies usually sleep through the night within a few days.

Daytime Schedule

 Establish a regular schedule of potty trips and feedings.  This helps you to control the times he has to go out and prevent accidents in the house.  First thing in the morning - before you have your coffee - carry
the puppy outside.  He can then come in and play for an hour.  Feed breakfast in the crate and don't let him out again for 1/2 hour.  Then carry him back outside for potty.  Puppies usually have a bowel movement after each meal so give him time to accomplish it. 

Now he can have another inside playtime for an hour or so.  Don't give him free run of the house, use baby gates or close doors to keep him out of rooms he shouldn't go in.  (Puppies are notorious for finding out of the way corners to have accidents in - keep him in an area where you can watch him).  If you give him too much freedom too soon, he'll probably make a mistake.  After playtime, take him outside again then tuck him into his crate for a nap.

For the first month or so, you'll be feeding 3-4 meals per day.  Repeat the same procedure throughout the day:  potty outside 1st thing in the morning, 1 hour playtime, potty, meal in crate, potty, playtime, potty, nap, potty, playtime, meal, etc.  The playtimes can be lengthened as the puppy gets older and is more reliable.  Eventually the puppy will be letting you know when he needs to go out but remember - if you ignore his request or don't move quickly he'll have an accident!
I know this sounds like a lot of work and it is!  The results of all this running' in and out will pay off in a well-housebroken puppy and clean carpets.  Keep in mind that some breeds are easier to housebreak
than others and how the puppy was raised before it came to you has an affect, too.  Pet store puppies who were allowed to use wire-bottom crates have less inclination to keep their crates clean.  Puppies that were raised in garages or other large areas where they could "go" wherever will also be a little more difficult.  Don't give up though - you can train them, it will just take a little longer. 

     A word about paper-training:  It seems harmless to leave papers about "just in case" and for us who work all day, it's a necessity.  However, paper-training your pup will make the overall job of housebreaking that much harder and take longer. By only allowing the pup to relieve itself outside, you're teaching it that it's not acceptable to use the house.  Using newspapers will override this training.  Also, be aware that many puppies get the notion that going potty NEAR the papers is  as good as going ON them! If you must use newspapers when you're gone, keep to the regular housebreaking schedule when you're at home. Get the puppy outside often enough and don't leave papers out "just in case".

    Keep your dog's yard picked up and free of old stools. Many dogs choose an area to use as a bathroom.  If left to become filthy, they'll refuse to use it and do their business in the house instead!  If your dog has to be tied up when he's outside, keeping the area clean is even more critical. If you could only move about in a small area, you wouldn't want to lie next to the toilet, would you?  Picking up stools helps you keep tabs on your dog's health as well.  Stools should be firm and fairly dry.  Loose, sloppy stools can be an indication of worms, health problems, stress or digestive upset.
Housebreaking Older Dogs
 You can use a modified puppy schedule to train an un-house broken dog or one that's having housebreaking problems.  Start from the beginning just like a puppy, use a crate and put them on a schedule.  An older dog  can be expected to control itself for longer periods provided you take it outside at critical times - 1st thing in the morning, after meals and last thing at night. Until they're reliable, get them outside every 3-4 hours in between those times. Adopted older dogs that have always had freedom
may be unwilling to have a bowel movement when on a leash.  You can either walk them longer or keep them confined until they really got go.  Just like a puppy, don't give them the run of the house and keep them in a crate or small area if you can't supervise them.  You can give them more freedom as they become more reliable. 

What to do if the puppy has an accident

Remember, this method of housebreaking is based on PREVENTING accidents. By faithfully taking the dog out often enough, you'll get faster results than if you discipline the puppy after the accident has
already happened.  If you puppy makes a mistake because you didn't get him out when you should have - it's not his fault!

 If you catch the pup in the act, stay calm.  Holler NO while you scoop the puppy up immediately - don't wait for him to stop piddling - and carry him outside to an area he's used before.  As you set him on the
ground, tell him "THIS IS WHERE YOU GO PODDY!" and praise him as he  finishes the job.  Leave him out a few more minutes to make sure he's done before bringing him back in. 

 This is a little trickier with an adult dog especially if he's new to you and you don't know how he'll react to being grabbed and thrust outside. Holler NO and put a leash on to take him out and show him where the bathroom is.  Make a point of getting the dog out more often in the future!

 ANY other corrections such as rubbing his nose in it, smacking with newspapers, yelling, beating or slapping only confuse and scare the dog.  If you come across an "old" accident, it really doesn't pay to get too excited about it.  Dogs aren't smart enough to connect a past act with your present anger and he won't understand what you're so mad about.  He'll act guilty but it's only because he knows you're mad at him.  He has no real idea why. Point the spot out to him and say "WHAT IS THIS?" but that should be limit of your correction.

 Keep in mind that health problems, changes in diet and emotional upsets (moving to a new home, adding a new pet or family member, etc.) can cause temporary lapses in housetraining. Diabetes in adult dogs and
urinary tract infections in both puppies and adults can cause dogs to have to urinate more often.  Urinary infections in young female puppies are common.  A symptom is frequent squatting with little urine release. If you suspect a physical problem, please take your dog for an examination.

 Sudden changes in dog food brands or overindulgence in treats or table scraps can cause diarrhea.  Dogs don't need much variety in their diets so you're not harming yours by staying to one brand of food.  If you make a change, do it gradually by mixing a little of the new food with the old, gradually increasing the amount of new food every day. A sudden change of water can cause digestive upset, too.  If you're moving or traveling, take along a couple gallons of "home" water to mix with the new.  Distilled water from the grocery store can also be used.

Cleaning up accidents
 If you've worked hard with this training method, you won't have many!  Put your puppy (or adult dog) away out of sight while you clean up a puddle.  Dog mothers clean up after their babies but you don't want your puppy to think that YOU do, too!  Clean up on linoleum is self-explanatory.  On carpeting, get lots of paper towel and continue blotting with fresh paper until you've lifted as much liquid as possible. 

There are several home-made and commercially available "odor killers" that are helpful.  In a pinch, plain white vinegar will work to help neutralize the odor and the ammonia in the urine.  (Don't use a cleaner
with ammonia - it'll make it worse!)  Sprinkle baking soda on the spot to soak up moisture and to help neutralize odor, vacuum when dry. At the pet store, you can find a good selection of products that may be more effective. A diarrhea stain on carpeting or upholstery can be lifted with a gentle solution of lukewarm water, dishwashing soap and white vinegar.

     Puppies are attracted to urine odors and their noses are much better than ours!  Even when using a commercial odor killer, a teeny residue will be left behind that our dogs can smell.  Keep an eye on that spot in the future!  This remarkable scenting ability does have an advantage - if you must paper-train your dog and he doesn't know what newspapers are for yet, "house-breaking pads" are available at your pet store.  Treated with a mild attractive odor (too weak for us to smell), your puppy will gladly use them! 

Advice for owners of male dogs
 Your male puppy will begin to lift his leg between 4-9 months of age.  It signals the activation of his sexual drive and instinct to "mark" territory.  This is a perfect age to neuter your dog and avoid the
unwanted behaviors that accompany sexual maturity - marking in inappropriate places, fighting and aggression toward other male dogs. Intact (un-neutered) males will mark any upright object and are especially hard on your shubbery and trees.  Some males will also mark inside the house, particularly if another dog comes to visit or if you're visiting in someone else's home. If you use your male for breeding, you can expect this behavior to get worse.  Neutering your dog will protect his health, help him to live longer and be a better pet along with improving his house manners!

This housebreaking guide was written by Vicki Rodenberg
     and published as a service of the Chow Chow Club, Inc.
     Welfare Committee.  For further information, contact the
     Committee at 9828 E. Co. A, Janesville, WI  53546

The Breeder

I love my little puppy; she makes my house a home.
She is my very sweetest little friend; I never feel alone.
She makes me smile; She makes me laugh; She fills my heart with love
. . .
Did some person breed her, or did she fall from above?

I've never been a breeder, never seen life through their eyes;
I hold my little puppy and sometimes criticize.
I've never known their anguish; I've never felt their pain,
the caring of their charges, through snow or wind or rain.

I've never waited the whole night through for babies to be born,
The stress and trepidation when they're still not there by morn.
The weight of responsibility for this body in my hands,
This darling little baby, who weighs but 60 grams.

Should you do that instead of this . . . or maybe that was wrong?
Alone you fight and hope, one day, he'll grow up proud and strong.
You pray he'll live to bring great joy to someone else's home.
You know it's all just up to you; you'll fight this fight alone.

Formula, bottles, heating pads, you've got to get this right,
two-hour feedings for this tiny guy, throughout the day and night.
Within your heart you dread that you will surely lose this fight,
To save this little baby, but God willing . . . you just MIGHT.

Day one; he's in there fighting; you say a silent prayer.
Day two & three, he's doing well, with lots of love and care.
Day four & five . . . he's still alive; your hopes soar to the
Day six he slips away again, dies in your hands, day seven.

You take this little angel, and bury him alone.
With aching heart and burning tears, and an exhausted groan,
You ask yourself, "Why do this? . . . Why suffer through this pain?"
Yet watch the joy your puppies bring, and everything's explained.

So, when you think of breeders, don't think of them with "greed,"
Think of all that they endure to fill another's need.
For when you buy your puppy, with your precious dollars part,
You only pay with money . . . while they pay with all their heart.

.... Author Unknown....

© Guardian Dachshunds
All rights reserved. No portion may be copied or redistributed in any form.