Dog Birth Control Optionsby Lisa McQuerrey
Unintentional dog breeding can result in unanticipated vet bills, costs associated with raising unplanned puppies and in some cases, pups being surrendered to shelters. Planning ahead for your dog’s reproductive life demonstrates responsible pet ownership and can even improve your pet’s health and disposition.
Spaying a female dog completely eliminates the potential for unplanned pregnancy. This surgical procedure is performed under general anesthesia and should ideally be done before your dog’s first heat cycle. In addition to serving as a permanent form of birth control, spaying also eliminates the potential for mammary gland tumors and reproductive organ disorders, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.
Surgically neutering your male dog not only eliminates unwanted breeding, it can also improve your dog’s behavior. Neutered males are less likely to roam in search of females in heat, which can protect them against fights, accidents and getting lost. From a health perspective, neutering also reduces the incidence of testicular cancer and can reduce the likelihood of prostate problems and anal tumors, according to the Brown University website.
Vet-prescribed medications are available for both female and male dogs. This is an option for pet owners who want to avoid surgery for their pets, or who want to reserve the option of breeding in the future. Female contraceptive medications such as megestrol acetate can be given to help delay the heat cycle, but the medication can have serious health-related side effects. A testosterone and sperm-reducing implant can be used to curb male reproduction -- the implant is effective for several month at a time. Neither option is as effective as permanent sterilization.
While not as foolproof as surgical alteration, secluding your dog can help reduce the potential for unwanted breeding. This means keeping your dog securely away from dogs of the opposite sex at all times. This is especially vital for female dogs when they are in their heat cycle. Hormones can present a strong pull, however, and dogs may jump fences, dig under kennel chains and break free from leashes and tie-outs to pursue a mate.
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