Spaying a female dog and neutering a male dog are very common veterinary procedures. While this prevents unplanned mating and pregnancy, there are also health benefits that can extend the lifespan of dogs.
This section will cover what is involved, pros and cons, and what to expect including recovery times.
Spaying a Female Maltese
What this is:
Spaying refers to when a female dog’s uterus and ovaries are surgically removed.
Best age to have this done:
Spaying is recommended starting at age 4 months and up to just about any age, excluding much older senior dogs. In most cases, the younger a dog is, the more health benefits.
Generally, the recommended age is before a female enters her first heat. If so, this will essentially eliminate her chances of developing mammary tumors. If this is done after her first heat cycle, it will still decrease her risk, but only about about 50%.
There are other benefits as well (next point) and some risks, so no matter your Maltese's age, the question of spaying should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Reduces chances of mammary cancer and ovarian infections (level of benefit determined by age when spayed)
Helps with territorial marking issues
Helps stop hormonal related behaviors such as mood swings and trying to run away.
Urinary incontinence. Studies have shown that spayed females will have a 20% chance of developing incontinence sometime during their lifetimes, from immediately afterward up to when she is a senior. Spaying after the age of 3-months-old reduces this risk.
These are purported risks that are not yet proven by studies:
• Cardiac tumors. This is not a widely substantiated claim. At the time of this writing, just 1 study (by Ware and Hopper, Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, March/April 1999) found that spaying and neutering increased the risk of cardiac tumors with a 4 times greater risk for females.
• Increased rate of other cancers. There is much debate about this. Some studies show that spaying prevents cancers. Others studies show it increases the risk. Specifically, some studies have concluded that spaying increases osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer), and a very slight increased risk of lymphoma.
• Delay in growth-plate closure. This refers to growth plates closing later than normal, leading to possible increase of bone fractures and/or causing a dog to grow a bit larger than otherwise. This aspect is often highly exaggerated.
It is generally accepted that growth plates may
fully close 1 to 1.5 years later than normal; however, this equals just a minute difference of just millimeters seen on x-rays.
The spaying procedure:
This is done with the female under general anesthesia. The reproductive tract, both ovaries, and the uterus are removed through a small incision in her abdomen. Ovarian ligaments and blood vessels are securely tied. The abdominal tissues are stitched back together in layers (internally). Outside (external) stitches are put in place as well.
A female Maltese will need about 2 weeks of recovery time, at which time the stitches will be removed. This involves lots of rest and no purposeful exercise.
we will cover what is involved with neutering a male Maltese dog.
Neutering a Male Maltese
What this is:
Neutering refers to when a male dog’s testicles, along with sections of testicular blood vessels and spermatic ducts, are surgically removed.
Best age to have this done:
Neutering is recommended at a young age, before a male dog reaches puberty; for the Maltese, this will be at around the 4 month mark. The reason for this is to have the surgery performed before any bad habits have developed.
There are benefits (next point) no matter the male Maltese's age.
Benefits of neutering:
Eliminates the chance that a male dog could sire a litter
Eliminates the possibility of testicular tumors
Reduces the risk of prostate disease. This is a very common and serious health issue for male dogs. Roughly 60% of un-fixed male dogs age 5+ years show symptoms of an enlarged prostate. This said, some studies suggest the risk increases (more ahead).
Helps prevent or resolve diseases and conditions related to testoterone. This includes helping to prevent perineal hernias and helping to resolve dermatoses (a skin disorder).
Helps stop hormonal related behaviors such as trying to run away
There are no known serious risks to having a male dog neutered, other than the normal risk associated with anesthesia. There are a few possible risks; however, as with spaying, studies are few and far between and are not conclusive.
• Cardiac tumors. At the time of this writing, essentially just 1 study (by Ware and Hopper - Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, March/April 1999) concluded that neutering increased the risk of cardiac tumors very slightly for males.
• Increased rate of other cancers. Some small studies have concluded that neutering increases osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer) and prostate cancer (a 2002 study showed prostate cancer was 4 times more likely to develop with neutered males), which contradicts the generally accepted stance that neutering greatly decreases the risk.
• Delay in growth-plate closure. As discussed under 'Spaying' earlier, this refers to growth plates closing later than normal, leading to possible increase of bone fractures and possibly causing a dog to grow a bit larger than otherwise. This aspect is often highly exaggerated.
It is generally accepted that growth plates may fully close 1 to 1.5 years later than normal; however, this equals a minute difference of just millimeters seen on x-rays.
The neutering procedure:
This is done with the male under general anesthesia. Testicles, along with sections of testicular blood vessels and spermatic ducts, are surgically removed via an incision in front of the dog’s scrotum. The blood vessels are tied off. The incision will either have stitches that dissolve or ones which will need to be removed 10 days after the surgery.
Recovery time: There is typically minor swelling for 3 days that generally does not warrant medication. Most males are up and eager to move around after just a day or two; however, full recovery takes about 2 weeks with exercise restricted during this time to ensure proper healing.