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How old is too old to spay or neuter a dog?

How old is too old to spay or neuter a dog?

If you have an older dog, you want to make sure that there are no unexpected litters in the future. Many veterinarians want you to spay or neuter your pup. It can provide some health benefits, and it helps to reduce the unwanted pet population. However, spaying and neutering is recommended for younger dogs, but what about your older pooch? Here are a few things you need to consider if you want to neuter or spay an older dog.

How Old Is Too Old To Spay or Neuter a Dog?

There is not a defined maximum age that a dog can be spayed or neutered.

You might think that your dog is too old to get fixed. However, many veterinarians recommend that older dogs get neutered or spayed. As long as your dog is in good health, she can be sprayed. Remember that older dogs might need a few tests before they head into surgery. Your vet will recommend which tests are required for your dog to ensure she can handle the surgery. 

Unfortunately, neutering and spraying are major surgeries. For that reason, your dog needs to be in good health. The veterinarian usually performs an echocardiogram or takes an X-ray to determine that anesthesia will be safe. 

Neutering and spaying have many benefits, and in most cases, these advantages will outweigh any risks. This procedure can help lower the risk of severe health issues that are commonly found in older dogs. Along with that, fixed dogs are less likely to have undesirable behaviors, such as humping and excessive barking. Plus, a neutered male or spayed female has a lower risk of running away to find mating opportunities. 

While neutering and spaying are safe, older dogs could have a longer healing process. If you have an older female dog, that process is more invasive and may take a longer time for recovery. All you need to do is keep your dog in a quiet spot and allow her to heal. 

In addition to that, you should keep an extra eye on your older pup after surgery. It is not a bad idea to check in with your vet to ensure that the dog is healing correctly. Once your veterinarian clears your dog for a spaying or neutering procedure, you should never let the pup’s age hold you back from getting it done. 

Should You Neuter Or Spay an Old Dog?

In many cases, this does come down to personal choice. Some dog parents feel that an older dog doesn’t need to be spayed and neutered. On the other hand, others want to prevent any future problems that come along with an un-neutered or -spayed pooch. You really need to speak to your veterinarian. You can discuss whether the process will benefit your dog during a vet visit. 

However, there are a few benefits to neutering or spaying a dog.  When your dog reaches the age of eight, she is less likely to get pregnant. While some older dogs can get pregnant, those chances are reduced once the pooch reaches old age. If your dog is younger, you may want to think about neutering or spaying, especially if your dog comes in contact with other unaltered dogs. Dogs will act on their natural behaviors, and you might end up a litter of puppies if your dog is not fixed. 

One of the top benefits of this procedure is to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately, the pet population is exploding due to unwanted litters. If your dog has a litter, you are responsible for those puppies until you can find a home for them. Shelters are already packed with dogs, and many will not take an unwanted litter. For that reason, many owners choose to fix their dogs. 
Along with that, there are some health benefits, especially for female dogs. As an unspayed female dog gets older, she could develop a couple of life-threatening diseases, such as pyometra or mammary tumors.

There is a greater chance of disease with older, unfixed female dogs. Pyometra is an infection of the uterus. About one in four females will develop pyometra by the time she is ten years old. This condition does have a 95 percent survival rate if you treat it appropriately. But it does require emergency surgery in many cases, and that surgery carries some considerable costs. 

Pyometra can be managed medically, but that is only in a minority of cases. The female dog will need emergency surgery to correct the conditions in most situations. Surgery does provide your dog with the best outcome. Whether your dog has surgery or medicine to treat the disease, all treatment options are expensive and carry some risk. Before you schedule a spay for your female, make sure to speak to your vet. He will be able to provide you with the best advice, including ways to avoid pyometra. 
Finally, the last problem with an unspayed female dog is mammary gland tumors. In younger female dogs, spaying can help reduce the risk of mammary tumors, especially when done before her first period. There is a 95 percent reduction in these mammary tumors. After the second heat season, there is a 75 percent reduction in these tumors developing.  
If your older female has not been spayed, there are still some benefits in reducing breast cancer. When a female dog is sprayed within two years of developing mammary masses, she has an increased survival rate. Unfortunately, mammary cancer is pretty common in older dogs. In many cases, about 50 percent of tumors are malignant. Those tumors can spread to other parts of the body, resulting in death. When there is a tumor in your dog, you should never assume that it is benign. These tumors are not always harmless, and they can grow big and create plenty of problems for your dog. 

Despite that bad news, your female dog has a better chance of survival if she has been spayed in the last two years. Like most medical procedures, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian and discuss this matter. She knows the detailed history of your dog and can recommend whether spaying is the right course of action for your female pooch.

Now that you know about the risk of not spaying your female, what about male dogs? Like females, male dogs can also develop prostate cancer if they remain intact. In some cases, veterinarians will recommend that you wait to neuter your male until he has reached his sexual maturity. Males need those sex hormones to develop strong bones. Once again, speak to your vet to learn about the risks and benefits of neutering your older male dog. 

What Are the Risks Involved With Spaying or Neutering an Old Dog?

While there are plenty of benefits, you still need to consider some of the risks with this type of procedure. There is no such thing as a no-risk procedure. Spaying and neutering are major surgeries. With that, your dog will need to be under anesthesia. The risk of the procedure will depend on the health of your dog.
Many vets will do a pre-anesthetic blood test to ensure that the kidneys and liver are functioning at an optimal level. Plus, the medical team wants to know which intravenous fluids to use during the procedure. Unless there are specific medical conditions due to other diseases or the blood test results show something else going on, the risk of this type of surgery is extremely low. These are all considerations that you should think about before scheduling surgery. Only you and the veterinarian will know what is best for your dog. 

There are some potential side effects of spaying, especially in certain breeds. In some cases, a female dog has an increased risk of obesity after being sprayed. All of that extra weight can lead to arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and joint diseases. Spaying can change her metabolism and hormones, making her eat more food. While spaying reduces some cancer, it can increase the risk of a deadly cancer known as hemangiosarcoma. This cancer spreads in the bloodstream and causes inoperable tumors. 

While spaying a female carries some risk, there are more minor issues with a male dog. Neutering a male when he is young can lead to development issues, but those problems are not a concern when the dog is older. 

You might think that his temperament will change after the procedure, but most dogs have the same disposition after being neutered. With males, neutering can triple the risk of hyperthyroidism. The endocrine system is disrupted by losing reproductive hormones, leading to low thyroid levels. That can also cause weight gain. 

If you have an older dog, you know that her cognitive abilities tend to slow down. Neutering can also affect that. Older dogs can develop a form of dementia, and they will act differently around the home, forgetting their training and housebreaking. Unfortunately, neutering can increase these risks. 
Remember to speak to your veterinarian. Together, you and the vet can develop a plan for your dog’s health. You might not need to worry about neutering if you have an older dog, as the risks outweigh the benefits.

Before you schedule a neutering or spaying procedure, make sure to get some professional advice. In many cases, it is worthwhile to have this procedure. Older dogs have special medical needs that differ from their younger counterparts. However, every dog is different. You need to consider your dog’s health before spaying or neutering an older pooch.