Learning more about neutering and spaying in dogs


Neutering and spaying of dogs is a very specialised and sensitive operation, as it sterilises the pet so that he/she cannot reproduce. There are many aspects involved in the process, and Dr. Vasanth M. Shetty, PhD, FISVS, elucidates the various queries and fine points that most owners would like to know. Dogs are considered to be the oldest friend of humans and the most trustworthy companions. Sometimes, the changing hormone levels in dogs, often leads them to behave strangely and here neutering and spaying of dogs comes into picture. This procedure also helps in controlling pet population.

What is ‘neutering’ and ‘spaying’?

Neutering and spaying are surgical procedures that make a pet incapable of reproducing. This procedure in females is referred to as ‘spaying’ and in males as castration or ‘orchidectomy’. However, the term ‘neutering’ is loosely used for castration in male dogs.


Both ‘neutering’ (males) and ‘spaying’ (females) are surgical procedures requiring general anaesthesia. A qualified veterinary surgeon would be able to do this procedure on a routine basis. In females, there are three basic organs of reproduction?–?a pair of ovaries, uterine horns and the uterus. The female dogs may be rendered sterile by surgical removal of either ovaries or uterine horns. Neutering involves removal of testicles in a male dog. For ‘spaying’ or ‘neutering,’ the dog needs to go on an overnight fast, and then be operated upon and sent home the same day. Skin sutures are removed seven days after surgery and routine wound care is required during this period. Most dogs are willing to eat within 24 hours after operation and resume their normal activities in a couple of days.

Time factor

Even though dogs can be neutered/spayed at any age, from medical perspective, spaying is best done at the end of first heat cycle, thereafter best at three to five months after each heat cycle. Neutering in males can be done between 6 to 12 months of age or any time thereafter. However, care should be taken not to spay when the female is in heat period, since there is an increased risk of haemorrhage as a post-surgical complication.


Neutering and spaying offer immense advantages to the pet, the guardian and the community. These include?:

  • Neutered dogs have less desire to mark their territory and fight for territories, hence less susceptible to fights, bites and the resultant diseases like rabies etc.
  • They have decreased roaming desire, in turn less chances of a traffic accident. A study has shown that 80% of the dogs involved in traffic accidents are intact males.
  • Neutering avoids contact with stray female dogs in heat, which would cause disease and parasitism.
  • Chances of disease conditions such as prostatic hypertrophy and cancer and penile tumours are considerably reduced after neutering, and chances of testicular cancer is completely eliminated.
  • There will be a general improvement in health. The dogs are less likely to fight and end up living a longer, healthier life.
  • Aggression and vicious temperament is controlled.
  • It reduces behaviour such as mounting on toys, furniture, people or other animals.
  • Many dogs become calmer, less moody and would be more devoted family pets.
  • It is a small step in control of dog population, which helps in reducing the number of homeless animals.

However, it must be noted that the operation makes them ineligible for certain sporting events. It is also an irreversible process and such animals cannot be bred in future.
(Dr Vasanth M Shetty is a PhD in Surgery & Radiology, and was awarded FISVS in 2003 for his significant contribution in the field of surgery & radiology. He was awarded “Best veterinarian” for the year 2001, by Karnataka Veterinary Association, Bangalore. Presently, he is Professor & Head, Dept of Surgery at Veterinary College, Hebbal, Bangalore. He can be contacted at: Office: 080-2341 1483 extn.213, Residence: 080-2333 1323, Clinic: 080-2331 3840, Mobile: 98800 29906, Fax: 080-2341 0509 or e-mail: msvasanth@yahoo.com