As a puppy parent, deciding whether to spay or neuter your dog is one of the most important decisions that you will have to make. Whilst we think Cavapoo puppies are just the cutest, with two young children and a busy home life we did not want the responsibility of an unexpected litter. So, yesterday, at the grand old age of 7 months, Rosie popped off to the vets to get spayed.
When should you spay or neuter your Cavapoo dog? The recommended age to spay or neuter your Cavapoo is between 6-9 months once they have reached puberty. Whilst some vets may advise that female dogs should be spay before their first season, others may advise waiting until after.
There is no clear evidence to suggest which is best, and we would recommend that you seek advice from your own vet before deciding when to spay or neuter your dog.
Here we discuss what neutering your puppy involves, the health benefits of spaying your dog and how to care for your Cavapoo post operation.
When to spay or neuter your dog?
Given the number of unwanted dogs that are left to roam the streets or are waiting to be rehomed, most responsible dog owners agree that spaying, and neutering our Cavapoos is a good thing. What we are unsure of, however, is when it can, or should be done!
There have been many scientific studies into the optimum age to spay and neuter, but we believe that a lot depends on the individual dog. If you are planning on getting your Cavapoo neutered or spayed, then we strongly advise that you talk through the pros and cons of timing with your vet so that you choose the right age for your dog. Here is what we do know!
For male dogs, the best time to neuter your Cavapoo is when their testicles have fully descended, and they have a healthy supply of hormones. This tends to be around the 6 months mark. Your puppy will start to produce both testosterone and the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 which are essential for normal development and healthy growth which trigger the onset of sexual maturity.
Neutering your male dog before the production of these hormones has truly begun, could result in them having insufficient quantities, which can affect their health, immune system and even their development. Neuter too late, however, and you run the risk of your dog becoming possessive, aggressive and developing bad habits such as frolicking with female dogs and urinating around the house.
For these reasons, most vets will recommend that you wait until your Cavapoo is at least 6 months of age before neutering. As all dogs are unique in terms of size and personality, it is always best to seek professional advice beforehand.
As with male dogs, there is an optimum age in which you should spay your female Cavapoo, and this is usually between 6-9 months of age.
If you choose to spay them too young, then you run the risk of your female furry friend not having had the chance to produce enough hormones or estrogen for healthy development. This could lead to a number of problems, such as urinary incontinence, later in life.
But the biggest debate of all, probably centers around whether you should wait until your bitch has had her first season or have them spayed before! By spaying a female dog before her first estrus, or “season,” means that you are eliminating her chances of developing mammary cancer. This benefit holds true for any female dog spayed before the age of 2-2.5 years, as the risk of mammary cancer increases with each estrus period.
As Cavapoos are classed as a medium size breed of dog, you can expect a female to enter her first season around 7 months of age, although this does vary depending on their build.
To spay or not to spay?
We desperately wanted our Cavapoo, Rosie, as we knew that having a dog would complete our family. She is a much loved pet but we never had any intention to breed from her. So, although sending her to be spayed wasn’t a nice decision to make (no one enjoys putting their pet through surgery), it was a necessity to ensure that she leads as happy and as healthy a life as she possibly can.
Spaying (and neutering your dog) is not simply done to prevent unwanted litters of puppies. These procedures can help prevent many health conditions from occurring too. Unless you have the knowledge and know-how to be able to breed responsibly, we would recommend that all responsible Cavapoo owners spay or neuter their dog.
It has been scientifically proven that you will reduce the risk of your female dog developing infections such as Pyometra (a life threatening infection of the uterus) cysts and cancer of the womb and ovaries.
In fact, by choosing to spay your little lady before their first season will ensure that they only have a 0.5 percent chance of getting mammary cancer. That number massively rises to 26 percent for female dogs spayed after their second season, with an overall frequency seven times higher those that never get spayed. By neutering your male dog, similarly, helps to prevent testicular cancer.
So, if you want to protect your Cavapoo from these killer diseases, neutering and spaying is a sure fire way.
What does spaying a dog involve?
If you do choose to spay your Cavapoo then you will need to ensure that you withhold any food from the night before surgery to ensure they have an empty stomach for the anesthetic. You should remain calm, especially when dropping your dog off at the vets, as they can often pick up on our own emotions.
When a female dog is spayed, the vet will normally remove the reproductive organs under anesthesia. This includes both ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.
In a dog, the ovaries are positioned close to the kidneys, and the y-shaped uterus extends from both ovaries right down to the cervix.
Rosie’s operation was slightly more complex than normal, as she was born with an umbilical hernia which the vet chose to remove at the same time as spaying her. This meant that she only had to undergo anesthetic once, rather than have two separate procedures.
After the operation, the skin along the midline of the abdomen is sewn up using either dissolvable stitches or nylon sutures that will need to be removed approximately 10 days after the procedure. Your dog will need a surgical suit and an Elizabethan or inflatable collar to prevent them from scratching and licking the wound.
What does neutering a dog involve?
Although neutering (also known as castration) is a far simpler operation than spaying, your male Cavapoo will have to be put to sleep for the procedure.
An incision is made just in front of the scrotal sac and both testicles are removed, leaving the sac intact, rendering them unable to reproduce. Sometimes the incision will need stitches, and your dog will definitely need to keep the area covered to prevent them from licking.
Post-operative care for your Cavapoo
Once you have collected your Cavapoo from the vet, they will provide you with a full rundown of how the operation went and how your dog has coped with the recovery. It will then be up to you to manage their aftercare.
In our situation, because Rosie is still young and inquisitive about everything, we choose to purchase a surgical suit (see on Amazon) for her to wear as well as an inflatable collar.
The inflatable collar (see range on Amazon) is an alternative to the Elizabethan cone that is traditionally used and not only prevented her from licking and biting her wounds but enabled her to eat and drink as normal.
Here are our other top tips for aiding your dog’s recovery:
- Keep the wound dry. There is likely to be some dried blood around the incision but do not attempt to clean the area. There will also be some bruising, but this is completely normal.
- Make sure that you administer pain relief as per your vet’s instructions.
- Let your dog sleep and rest indoors in a quiet, warm environment. They are likely to be very drowsy for the first 12-24 hours.
- Only give small amounts of food and drink for the first couple of days.
- Keep them on a leash whilst toileting outside. Especially for the first 48 hours.
- Make sure that walks are kept short and gentle and that they are not running free for at least 10 days. Remember to keep to clean areas so that their abdomen does not get wet or muddy.
Post-operative complications are rare, but you should look out for the following signs:
- Dull or listless behavior (especially after the first 24 hours)
- Redness, irritation, discharge, swelling or lumpiness around the incision
- Constant licking and biting at the stitches
Your vet should conduct a post-op check within the first 2 days upon which they can see how the incision is healing. A further examination of the wound will take place 7-10 days post-surgery.
Will spaying or neutering calm your Cavapoo?
We often hear people say that they can’t wait to spay or castrate their dog in order to calm them down. It is important to note that these simple operations will not change your Cavapoos personality in terms of friendliness and playfulness.
What spaying and neutering do help with is to prevent bad habits from developing. For a female dog, spaying often reduces or eliminates their drive to roam while in season, and for male dogs, neutering often stops them becoming aggressive around females and reduces the need to mark their territory.
Another misconception is that sterilized dogs often become fat. This is not the case, as long as you continue to provide the correct amount of food and exercise then your dog should remain a healthy size and weight.
How much does it cost to spay or neuter your dog?
The cost of spaying or neutering your Cavapoo varies dramatically by geographic location as well as size and age of the dog. Unfortunately, the cost of these operations are not covered under your pet insurance policies.
In the UK it cost us £225 to have Rosie spay, with the average price in the USA being around the $400 mark. Neutering generally costs around half the price of a female spay.
Watching Rosie’s recovery over the last 48 hours, I have come to realize that the short term pain of her spay operation has only set her up for long term gain, when it comes to her health. By getting her sterilized at 7 months of age we have given her the optimum chance of a bright future, free from breast cancer and other life threatening diseases.