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I was always under the (naive) impression that spaying a dog was predominantly a preventative measure against having litters. I knew maybe behaviour and demeanour would change, but that's about the extent of my know-how on spaying.

We had our dog pass two weeks ago due to pyometra, something I didn't know was a thing until we were told this, and by this point, it was too late. The vet assured me that our dog would still be with us were she fixed.

I just have a limited view of what spaying actually means for the dog. I was not aware of any health conditions that could arise from not spaying. What are some other examples of health conditions impossible when spayed? Are there disadvantages, too, to spaying?

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Welcome to the pets stack exchange. I'm sorry to hear about your dog but you are right in thinking that there is more to spaying than just stopping their reproductive capacities.

Advantages:

  • No seasons - No blood discharge to clean up
  • No ovarian cancer - No ovaries, no cancer.
  • Doesn’t Contribute to Pet Overpopulation – There are already so many unwanted dogs and unfortunately, not spaying can increases the chance of yet more dogs adding to the list.

Disadvantages:

  • Anesthesia Side Effects – Spaying requires anesthesia.Although only 1 in 5 dogs are negatively affected by anesthesia it can still be life threatening.
  • Spaying may increase the occurrence of urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, and hypothyroidism.
  • Possible Weight Gain – Your dog may be less active, so they may put on a few pounds. This can be managed with diet and exercise

The main concern is actually the age that you spay your dog. It is not recommended that you spay your dog under 1 year old as the hormone estrogen, which is no longer produced in spayed or neutered dogs, plays a crucial role in bone growth and development. The removal of estrogen-producing organs in immature dogs can cause growth plates to remain open. The dogs continue to grow and wind up with abnormal growth patterns and bone structure, which can result in irregular body proportions. This also means that in later life dogs that have been spayed early are more likely to have hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear and elbow dysplasia in later life.

It is important to note that research on Spaying and Neutering animals is still on-going. It is completely up to you as the owner to decide for your pet whether or not s/he should be spayed or neutered. Don't beat yourself up over her passing as most of the time pyometra is not fatal. You were simply unfortunate.

The argument for spaying/neutering is constantly being debated. From a personal standpoint I prefer to spay/neuter as it has clamed my dogs down both sexually and emotionally. Side note: I've owned dogs all my life and currently live with eight who have all been spayed and neutered.

Edit: As for the 1 in 5 dogs are negatively affected by anesthesia. This is in regard to any reaction. This could be a bump on the skin/Rash etc.

For some more information you can look here:

How safe is anethesia for your pet -Comes with some nice statistics on a relatively large study of dogs. Including factors that could add risk.

Top 10 reasons to spay/neuter your pet

Current perspectives on the optimal age to spay/castrate dogs and cats

Long-Term Health Effects of Neutering and Spaying Dogs.

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    can you provide a source for the one in five dogs are negatively affected by anesthesia statement,i think it is important to know this before one spay or neuter a dog. – trond hansen Feb 20 at 10:51
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    @trondhansen - Added the source (although looking back at it now, has no resources.) and a different link for the actual risk of mortality in anethesia. – SimplyRedAppaloosa Feb 20 at 11:38
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    That's interesting, that you say it's not recommended to spay under a year old. We have another pup who just began her first cycle at around 11 months old. Our vet encouraged us to spay around 6 months and we didn't (we didn't yet know that pyometra was a thing, etc). I wonder why he'd suggest this. – gator Feb 20 at 16:02
  • @gator - a lot of vets suggest this and I had mine spayed under a year old as I had a few siblings who were opposite genders. It's mostly to stop over-population but I suppose it could also reduce scarring if done at a young age. You'll find many adoption centers spay and neuter at young ages too. It's also important to note that research into the dis/advantages of spay/neuter is ongoing. :) – SimplyRedAppaloosa Feb 20 at 16:05

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