Spay and Neuter

Spaying (for females) and neutering (for males) refer to the surgical removal of the reproductive organs. Unless a dog is part of a carefully considered breeding program, spaying or neutering is highly advised.

Benefits

For females, spaying before the first heat nearly eliminates the risk of breast cancer and does eliminate any chance of ovarian or uterine cancer (because those organs are removed). It also does away with ovarian infections and the mess and fuss of twice-yearly heats.

Spayed females don't have changes in hormones related to coming into heat, and they may be less apt to show personality changes as a result. They will not roam in search of a mate, and they are less likely to exhibit false pregnancies.

For males, neutering reduces the risk of prostate and testicular cancer. Neutered males are less likely to roam in search of attractive females, and they may even be less prone to aggressive behavior.

Drawbacks

Most of the supposed drawbacks are inaccurate. Spaying or neutering does not cause obesity. It will not make your Yorkshire terrier lazy. If it changes personality at all, it will be for the better, making a dog more affectionate and less aggressive. Dogs have no inherent need to have (sire) a litter before being spayed or neutered.

Spaying and neutering does decrease or eliminate sex-related hormones, which may slow metabolism slightly. But the normal progress of the dog from adolescence to adulthood has the same effect. To keep a dog trim, the amount of food must be balanced with energy requirements throughout life. In other words, spaying and neutering do not make dogs fat — eating too much and exercising too little certainly will.

Two valid concerns are anesthesia and surgery. Both do involve some element of risk. However, anesthetics have improved, with most veterinarians now using reversible anesthetics. Surgery should utilize all the common precautions of sterilizing instruments, everyone scrubbing up, and close monitoring of the patient. Feel free to question your veterinarian about anesthetics, surgical procedures, and his or her experience doing spays and neuters on toy dogs.

When to Spay or Neuter

For those adopting from shelters or rescue, the decision will often have been made for you — the dog won't be released without first being altered (another word for spay or neuter, covering both sexes). If you are purchasing your Yorkshire terrier from a breeder, you may get advice to wait until some specified age to spay or neuter. Provided that age is no more than six months, you can abide by the breeder's wishes. You want to spay before the first heat or neuter before puberty to get the full health benefits of the surgery. And while the average age for the first heat is nine months to a year, Yorkies have been known to come into heat as young as seven months. So don't delay.

Costs for spaying and neutering vary from practice to practice. The less-involved neutering procedure averages between $75 and $150. The more surgically complex spay procedure costs $100 to $250. These costs are generally included in the cost of adopting a shelter dog.

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