Spaying An Older Dog: What You Should Know

While it's best to spay or neuter a dog when they are still a puppy (before a female has gone into heat and sometime after the testicles drop in a male), there are circumstances where keeping a dog intact is the best decision until they are older. If you have a dog you are ready to get spayed, then here are some things you should know about the process so you can be prepared.

It's best to spay when your dog is not in heat

Depending on the age and health of your female dog, they should go into heat a few times a year. A heat cycle, or period every 6 monthswhere your dog is fertile, can last up to 2 weeks or more at a time. It's during this time that vets often will not spay a dog due to complications in bleeding that can occur. A dog in heat that gets spayed may also still attract males after she is spayed and this can prove to be fatal if a male is successful in his attempts. Talk to your vet about the best time to get your dog spayed if you believe they are coming into heat soon (panting, spotting, swollen genitals).

Healthy weight is ideal

While getting spayed is a routine surgery for many vets, they often prefer to do the surgery on a dog that is not overweight. Excess pounds are as hard on a dog's heart as they are on a humans and can make surgery slightly more risky. Hormone changes after the spaying procedure can cause your dog to gain weight as well, putting them at risk for obesity if they already have issues with exercise. Prior to getting your dog spayed get them a checkup where their weight will be examined. If they are overweight your vet may recommend a certain feeding regimen and exercise routine and will weigh your dog again in a few weeks to see if they are a candidate.

The younger, the better

Spaying a dog before her first heat can be easier on her hormones, but an older dog can benefit from the surgery as well. If your dog is under its geriatric years there should be little to no complications in getting the procedure done. If your dog is a senior, your vet may have other advice for you in keeping your dog from getting pregnant. Surgery at an older age, even a non-complicated one, can put your dog at risk for organ stress and other issues not as common with younger candidates.