What’s the Difference Between Spaying and Neutering?
First of all, spaying refers to the removal of a female dog’s reproductive organs while, as the word is commonly used, neutering refers to the procedure in males. When a female dog is spayed, the vet removes her ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. Spaying renders a female dog no longer able to reproduce and eliminates her heat cycle. Any behavior related to breeding instincts may or may not cease.The procedure is also known as an ovariohysterectomy. When a male dog is neutered, both testicles and their associated structures are removed. Neutering renders a male dog unable to reproduce and any behavior related to breeding instincts, like humping, may or may not cease.The procedure is also known as castration. Alternative procedures, like vasectomies for male dogs (the severing of the tubes that conduct sperm from the testes) or ovariectomies (the removal of the ovaries only) are available but not commonly performed.

Why Spay or Neuter?
Spaying and neutering reduces the number of unwanted litters. It also has specific health benefits that can help a dog live a healthier, longer life and may reduce behavior issues. Spaying a female dog helps prevent serious health problems including mammary cancer and pyometra, a potentially life-threatening uterine infection.

When Should You Spay or Neuter Your Dog?
The traditional age for spaying or neutering a dog is between six and nine months, although a spay clinic or shelter may safely spay or neuter dogs as young as two months old, says Brown. However, “each individual owner should discuss their specific circumstances with their personal vets,” recommends Brown. Several factors can influence the timing of spaying and neutering. For example, a dog’s breed can make a difference. Research has shown that larger dog breeds tend to mature a little later than their smaller counterparts, explains Brown. An animal’s living situation may also be a consideration. For example, a male and female from the same litter who are adopted into the same home should be spayed and neutered earlier, before the female goes into heat, Brown says. On the other hand, there’s less urgency to spay or neuter if the puppy is the only intact dog living in the house, she adds. But before a dog is spayed or neutered, it’s very important that the vet, whether at a private practice, a spay/neuter clinic or a shelter, give the animal a complete check up to ensure he or she has no health issues, Brown points out. The dog’s owner should also provide a full medical history because underlying conditions or current medications could be relevant, she says.

Recovery From Spay and Neuter Surgery
Dog owners can help their pets have safe and comfortable recoveries after being spayed or neutered. Keep the dog inside and away from other animals during the recovery period.Don’t let the dog run around and jump on and off things for up to two weeks after surgery, or as long as the vet advises.Ensure the dog is unable to lick its incision site by using an Elizabethan collar (popularly known as the “cone of shame”) or other methods as recommended by the vet.Check the incision every day to make sure it’s healing properly. If redness, swelling or discharge, contact the vet.Don’t bathe the dog for at least 10 days post-surgery.Call the vet if the dog is uncomfortable, lethargic, eating less, vomiting or has diarrhea. Brown also recommends discussing pain management with the vet before the procedure is done to be sure pain medication is sent home with the dog. Pain medication may or may not be needed, but it’s best to have on hand just in case, she notes.