Spaying and Neutering.
As a pet owner, one of the best things you can do for your dog is to have it spayed or neutered. This is usually done around 9 months of age, but your vet will advise you on the best age to have it done.
The ‘old wives tale’ of we must let our bitch have a litter first, is just that, and ‘old wives’ tale. There is no veterinary research that backs this. Unless you are an accredited responsible breeder that is willing and able to have all the relevant health checks done on your dogs etc., then spaying and neutering is the answer. Not only will it help decrease the numbers of dogs in rescue in the longer term, if not as many puppies are born, but it has huge benefits to health.
Just a point to note, a dog that has been recently castrated could still in theory impregnate a bitch in season, as sperm can live in the tubes for about 2 weeks. This is unlikely, but possible, so if you are concerned, talk to your vet.
Spaying a female dog reduces the chance of mammary tumours and other female cancers. It also stops pyometra, a womb infection that can be difficult to spot and can kill. It also stops ‘phantom’ pregnancies. In male dogs neutering can stop testicular tumours.
Spaying and neutering can be expensive. The Dogs Trust and the RSPCA sometimes offer voucher schemes to help people on low incomes with this cost. It’s also worth ringing around the vets in your area, as the costs also differ from practice to practice. Many practices have different offers, so it is also worth keeping an eye on the local press too.
Ultimately, the choice to spay or neuter is a personal one. The best place to get advice, whatever your choice is to talk to your vet. They will be able to answer all your questions and help you make the right decision for your dog.