When Should you Spay a Labrador Retriever?

When you get a new puppy, your number one priority is to ensure you maintain their health.

It involves taking it out for a walk or engaging it in physical activities, feeding it nutritious foods in the correct quantity, scheduling a vet’s appointment, and sometimes spaying.

If you are thinking about spaying your Labrador puppy, here are a few things you should know first.

What Is Spaying

Gonadectomy is a surgical procedure done on animals to remove their gonads – reproductive organs, and prevent further production of sex hormones. There are two types of gonadectomy procedures; spaying and neutering.

Contrary to popular belief, spaying and neutering do not mean the same thing. Spaying is a surgical procedure, also known as an ovariohysterectomy, done under general anesthesia to remove a female dog’s reproductive organs.

During this procedure, both ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and the uterus are surgically removed by an experienced veterinary doctor.

On the other hand, neutering, orchiectomy, is a surgical procedure done on male dogs. It involves the removal of both testes and is also done under general anesthesia.

Research and advancements in medicine have made it possible to develop better ways to perform these surgical operations.

For example, male dogs can undergo chemical castration by implanting a Suprelorin under their skin to inhibit the production of sex hormones.

For female dogs, a minimally invasive procedure called an ovariectomy is available. During this procedure, only the ovaries are removed using laparoscopy.

Types of Spaying Procedures

If you decide to spay your Labrador, there are available options that your vet will walk you through. Ultimately, settle on a decision that feels safest for your dog.

  • Traditional spay/ ovariohysterectomy is the total removal of your pet’s reproductive organs. It makes them completely sterile and eliminates their heating cycle and breeding instinct.
  • Hysterectomy– This is the removal of your dog’s uterus and part of its fallopian tubes. While it makes them completely sterile, it will not eliminate your dog’s breeding instincts because the ovaries are left behind and will continue to produce sex hormones.
  • Ovariectomy– This procedure is only limited to the removal of ovaries. With this operation, your dog will become completely sterile, and their breeding instincts and heat cycle will be eliminated.

When Should You Spay Your Pet Labrador

The American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation recommends that large breed dogs such as Labrador Retrievers should be spayed after puberty. This is a dog who is anywhere between 9 to 15 months old.

If it is done too early, it might pose a potential health risk for your dog. Remember that, despite common myths, waiting until your female dog has gone through their first heat cycle may not be the best option.

The appropriate age for spaying depends on a variety of factors such as the health of your puppy, their age, behavior, and environment. You should consult your veterinarian to make the most informed decision for your Labrador.

Why Should You Consider Spaying

When most pet owners consider spaying, they hope to achieve the desired outcome. Some of these benefits are behavioral, while others help to improve the dog’s overall health. Other benefits of spaying include the following:

  • Population control– Labradors can give birth to a dozen puppies per litter. A sexually active female Labrador can have up to 67,000 puppies in six years. This can be expensive and hectic to maintain and will increase the number of strays. Some of these dogs end up in shelters to get euthanized because the numbers are too high to maintain.
  • To increase its lifespan– A spayed female Labrador has a 26.3 percent increase in its lifespan. Spaying also mitigates the risk of contracting life-threatening diseases such as some types of cancer and pyometra. Pyometra is a uterine infection that affects Labradors and could quickly turn fatal.
  • To manage its behavioral issues– When a female lab is in heat, they are generally difficult to handle, especially if they are close to a male dog. They become frustrated and may show aggression towards other animals or individuals around them. Spaying will eliminate all these behavioral problems and prevent howling and bleeding during their reproductive seasons.

What Are the Potential Risks of Spaying

As with any surgical procedure, spaying has its benefits and downsides. The risk is also heightened by the fact that your dog will be under general anesthesia for the entirety of the procedure.

However, the risk of complications is generally low. This is because your dog will be closely monitored during the surgical procedure. They are also given a physical test, and their blood work is taken to ensure they can survive the operation.

Other risks include the following:

  • Increased risk of obesity– Some dogs risk becoming obese due to decreased metabolism. However, the obesity issue can be managed by monitoring their diet and daily calorie intake and engaging them in physical activities.
  • Increased risk of joint complications– When dogs are spayed later in their lives, they become susceptible to joint problems. When a large breed dog such as a Labrador is spayed before complete bone growth, its risk of developing cruciate ligament tear increases.
  • Increased risk of urinary incontinence– This is a dog’s inability to control its bladder. The condition varies from a slight loss of urine to a complete inability to control their urination. Urinary incontinence mainly affects spayed middle-aged and older dogs.

The decision to spay your dog is ultimately yours. Despite the social pressure among pet owners to fix their pets, you are ultimately responsible for maintaining your dog’s health.

Discussing the benefits versus the risks with a professional will help you make the best decision for your pet, depending on the factors mentioned earlier.

Before you decide to perform an irreversible operation on your Labrador retriever, ensure you have all the information at hand. Sometimes the answer to your problem is not a spay.

Aftercare for Your Labrador

If you decide to spay your dog, there are a few aftercare procedures you should practice to ensure your Labrador heals appropriately.

The good news is that your veterinarian will use absorbable sutures, so you don’t have to make another appointment at the doctor’s office.

You will also be given medication to help manage their pain as the wound heals. The discomfort usually lasts a couple of days post-operation, and the healing period is about ten days.

However, if your dog is experiencing pain and discomfort for longer than five days, you must consult your vet immediately.

Ensure your dog remains calm during their healing period by restricting movements. Running, jumping, etc., might irritate the wound site causing inflammation and possible tears, which would derail their healing. Most doctors recommend that your dog rests during this period and only take short walks.

Your dog will also be sent home with an Elizabeth collar, popularly known as an e-collar. This prevents the dog from licking the wound, which would cause a bacterial infection.

Ensure the wound remains relatively dry. This means that before the incision heals, it should not be exposed to the wetness of any kind, e.g., bathing and swimming.

Conclusion

Spaying helps to manage behavioral issues such as aggression in Labradors and other health benefits.

However, before you go through with it, make sure your decision is from the point of complete information.