There are a few things to consider when getting a Labrador. They are generally well-tempered and make great family pets. Other than exercise and a good diet, you may have seen suggestions for spaying your Labrador. But what is spaying, and when to spay a labrador? Read until the end to find out.
What is spaying?
Spaying is the term used for the procedure of removing a female dog’s reproductive organs.
There are three types of spaying. First is an ovariohysterectomy, which completely removes the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. This makes the dog unable to have offspring and removes any hormone-related behavior.
Another type is a hysterectomy. This time, only her tubes and uterus are removed, which leaves the ovaries that still produce hormones. So while in a hysterectomy, the female will be unable to have offspring, they will still have hormone-related behavior.
Lastly is the ovariectomy in which only her ovaries are removed, and it has the same effect as an ovariohysterectomy.
You may have also stumbled upon or used the term neutering interchangeably. This procedure has the same effect as spaying, but it is the term used for the procedure performed on male dogs.
Why should you consider spaying your labrador?
So now that we have some background, why do most veterinarians recommend it? There are plenty of benefits to getting your dog spayed.
The first is to avoid having to raise a litter of babies. If you don’t plan to breed your dog ethically, then plan ahead to avoid surprises, especially with Labradors that are known to give birth to at least five to ten babies at once.
This also avoids the overpopulation crisis of dogs. You may be able to find families for all the puppies, but a shelter dog could be a home for every one of them.
The second is related to pregnancy itself. They can be extremely dangerous for the mother. There is always a risk in every pregnancy of every canine breed, and the older they are, the higher the risks that come with pregnancy.
The next is reducing health risks. While this is still being studied further, the University of Georgia has concluded that spaying females increase their lifespan by at least 26.3%.
Besides pregnancy-related deaths, it prevents ovarian cancer and diseases linked to hormones and reproductive organs.
The last and most popular benefit is helping with behavioral issues. The hormones produced by a female’s ovaries can lead to mounting, heat, and aggression.
Labradors are very friendly, but they can be sensitive during their heat and cause aggression in your male dogs, if you have any.
Is spaying dangerous?
Before proceeding, you must know that any medical procedure where your dog has to be put under local anesthesia has risks. There are also plenty of myths and concerns about spaying, so let’s address some of them.
Spaying/neutering will cause pain to my pet. Since spaying requires surgery, the pet will be under anesthesia. They may have a bit of discomfort after waking up, but the veterinary doctor will prescribe them medicine to help with it.
Spaying/Neutering will change the dog’s personality. There is no link between the procedure and a change in personality. The changes you will see are more on their behavior since they no longer have reproductive hormones.
Spaying/Neutering is too dangerous. Again there will always be risks to going under surgery, but spaying is considered one of the lowest risk ones.
In a study for the Veterinary Journal about the effects of spaying, the researchers found that even in a high-volume clinic, the mortality rate remained at 0.03%.
This also largely depends on the reliability of your veterinarian surgeon. Consider researching the best vet surgeons and reputable clinics around your area, if you wish to proceed with spaying.
When is the best age to spay a labrador?
So after considerably thinking it over, you want to get your labrador spayed, but you need to know when. Many veterinarians and professionals would say that the puppy has to at least be 6 months.
Now, this number is very general and doesn’t take into consideration the breed, size, and other specifics. This may be why multiple studies have stated that spaying your puppy too early can affect its development.
Reproductive hormones are not just produced for females to give birth. They actually play a significant role in their first few months. They help with the development of organs, muscles, and bone density.
Dogs tend to age faster when they are young, but their development speed varies in breed size. According to the American Kennel Club, small breeds mature at around 6 to 9 months, while large breeds mature at 16 to 18 months.
Their report found that spaying large dogs too early can actually increase their chances of health conditions in the future. Since Labradors are considered large breeds, their optimal spaying age should be around 15 months.
If you are still trying to decide, consult your veterinarian on your next visit to get an optimal age range. You may even pursue a second opinion, just in case.
What if my labrador is no longer a puppy?
Another myth that should be busted is that dogs beyond the optimal age cannot be spayed. They can still be spayed, but it will require a bit more preparation on your part.
From the previous information, large breeds are best spayed at 15 months to at least before their first heat. If your dog is beyond that, you might have to check in with your veterinarian to see if it is still safe. They will usually require some blood work and tests to ensure that your dog is safe to undergo a procedure.
Just note that while there are no limits as to the age at which they should get spayed or neutered, the benefits of it decrease over time.
What should you do before and after your labrador gets spayed?
Their major surgery is coming up, and you want to be prepared for everything. Here are some tips to keep in mind
The veterinarian will give you specific instructions depending on the dog’s situation, so make sure to follow them thoroughly.
Dogs are usually required to fast for at least 4 to 6 hours or the night before the surgery.
If your dog should take any medications or vitamins outside of the ones given for the procedure, inform the veterinarian and ask if they can take them.
Make sure your dogs are in good health. Avoid going to crowded places where they might accidentally eat something or be extra vigilant about their condition. They can be denied the surgery if the veterinarian deems them unfit.
Don’t be nervous around them. This may seem a bit impossible but try acting as usual as possible. Dogs can sense your emotions and panic if they feel you looming over something.
Give the clinic updated vaccinations and phone numbers. Make sure you check your phone regularly for any updates or in case of emergencies.
No strenuous activity for at least 7-10 days after surgery. Labradors can be pretty high in energy, so the general rule of thumb is after 2-3 days, you can take them on slow walks on pavements.
You should also consider placing your dog in another room if you have any other pet. This will help avoid any accident from playing together.
Make sure your pet is staying in a clean and dry environment. This is to avoid any infections that may occur. Don’t allow them to lick or scratch the site of the operation. If they continue to attempt to do so, get an Elizabethan collar.
Don’t change their diet. They will most likely be lethargic or without an appetite for the first 24 hours. Don’t give them table food or scraps. Hydrate their dry kibble by pouring some water and allowing it to become soft and make it easier to eat.
Check the surgery site and their condition at least twice a day. Make sure the site is clean and change any bandages or give medications they need. Ask the clinic when your pet should stop being lethargic and what situations you would need to call them.
Schedule a clinic visit to check on their condition. Postoperative visits are required especially for females to take out stitches and check the area, so make sure not to miss it.
Give them plenty of hugs and kisses. Your dog will probably be confused and have considerable discomfort after, so take some time to stay by their side and soothe them.
Congrats on making it to the end. So as a quick summary, we find that spaying is essential and should be done after a veterinary opinion is given. The best time to get large breeds like Labradors to be spayed is around 15 – 18 months or at least before their first heat. Spaying is not exclusive to young puppies; even older dogs can get them with the vet’s approval.
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