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Every year, thousands of unwanted dogs end up abandoned or handed into shelters due to massive overpopulation/overbreeding. The ISPCA estimates that 30,000 puppies are being produced in puppy farms in Ireland each year. And this figure does not consider all the illegal  ‘backyard breeders’, which would increase the numbers significantly.

Unfortunately, this has earned Ireland the title – Puppy Farming Capital of Europe. It is not a title to be proud of. Neutering our dogs is the most effective way of stopping all that.

We in KLAWS firmly believe in the importance of neutering dogs. All adult dogs in our care get neutered before they are adopted, and all adopters of puppies that are too young to be neutered at the time of adoption must make their own arrangements for the pups to get neutered when the time is right. This is one of the clauses in the adoption contract between KLAWS and our adopters. We are grateful to everyone who honours that contract. Thank you!

What do we mean by getting your dog neutered?

Neutering means castration of male dogs (removal of the testicles); and spaying of female dogs (removal of the uterus and ovaries). While the male dogs’ procedure is a little less complicated than the females’, both castration and spaying are very common practices for veterinary surgeons the world over. This means that complications tend to be limited, although no surgery ever is entirely without risk, of course.

When should a dog get neutered?

It depends on a few factors, but in general, veterinarians recommend getting dogs neutered between 4–6 months of age. Ideally, females should be spayed before their first heat cycle.

A dog’s breed is also an important factor: larger dogs tend to mature a little later (and in the case of giant dog breeds, vets recommend waiting with the surgery until they are at least a year old) than their smaller counterparts (who can usually be neutered from 5–6 months on).

The animals’ living arrangement is also significant: for example, if you have unneutered male and female dogs sharing a home, they should be neutered earlier, and before the female goes into heat. If you only have one puppy, there isn’t much need for early neutering, if the intact dog is living indoors.

Before neutering, all dogs should undergo thorough medical examinations by their veterinarians, to make sure that they are in good health in general.

So, why is neutering so important?

  • Neutering doesn’t just prevent unwanted breeding; it also has health benefits for your dog.

    • In female dogs, spaying (especially before her first heat cycle) helps prevent mammary cancer and some very serious urinary infections.

      • Pregnancy and birthing can bring complications and put your dog’s health at risk.

      • Phantom pregnancies (which can occur in dogs) may cause both behavioural and physical health problems.

      • Being in heat is a messy situation for the female dog, both physically and mentally. Spaying prevents that.

      • Pyometra is a potentially life-threatening womb infection that affects intact female dogs. Studies show that 1 in 4 unneutered female dogs will get the condition before they turn 10.

    • In male dogs, castration helps to keep them from developing testicular cancer.

  • Neutered dogs can live healthier, longer lives.

    • Males tend to be less aggressive and less likely to roam away from home (which they might do if they’re unneutered and in the vicinity of a female in season). This means that they are less likely to end up in fights or get hit by a car, etc.

    • Female dogs, too, are more likely to stray from home if they’re unneutered, which can expose them to dangerous situations, including getting stolen by dodgy dog breeders or puppy farmers.

  • Neutered dogs tend to be better behaved.

    • Scent marking is usually reduced in neutered males.

    • Neutering may also help with training your dog: they may be less prone to distractions when you’re out and about.

  • Although neutering your dog is not free, it is a money-saving exercise in the long run.

    • The diseases that neutering may help to prevent would be a lot more expensive to treat than is the one-off cost of neutering.

    • Caring for an unwanted litter of puppies can be very expensive.

  • When it comes to the post-surgery aftercare, please consult your vet for precise instructions. Some vets offer follow-up visits free of charge, so ask your vet about their policies.

    • Allow your dog plenty of time to rest and relax.

    • Discourage jumping onto or off fences or furniture, and any rough and tumble play with other dogs.

      • Some vets recommend keeping your dog away from other dogs for the duration of the recovery.

    • Try to monitor your dog as much as possible during the first five days after the surgery.

    • Follow your vet’s advice and contact them immediately should any concerns arise.

  • There are some myths and misconceptions regarding having your dog neutered:

    • Some people believe that a sterilized dog will get fat.

      • This is not true, as long as owners provide their dogs with adequate food and proper exercise.

      • Just keep in mind that a neutered dog will require about 20% less calories when you adjust their food amounts post-surgery.

    • Some people believe that a neutered dog’s personality will change.

      • That is just not true. If anything, some unwanted behaviours, like marking their territory indoors, may be eradicated post-surgery.

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