Whenever I think of a dog being neutered or spayed, I think of Gary Larsen’s The Far Side cartoon of a dog hanging out a car window bragging to his neighbor dog about all the fun things he gets to do that afternoon. And then, “I’m going to the vet’s to get tutored.” That said, neutering is no laughing matter, although it is important and should be done for every single dog that will not be used to breed.
What are the most important things to know about neutering and spaying a Shih-poo?
Both males and females can be neutered. Males are castrated and females undergo an ovariohysterectomy. Shih-poos can be neutered and spayed between four and six months, at the onset of puberty. Your dog will generally live longer and you will have fewer health expenses as an owner.
Why Neutering Is so Important
Neutering your Shih-poo offers benefits to the puppy, the Shih-poo family, and the community.
Neutering’s Benefits to the Shih-poo
Shih-poos (and all dogs, for that matter) who have been neutered tend to live longer and experience fewer health issues related to their reproductive system.
Neutering your male Shih-poo eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer while also reducing the chance of prostate cancer and prostate disease.
Neutered male dogs additionally exhibit lower tendencies of roaming their neighborhood, which means fewer chances of getting into fights with other dogs. Even though Shih-poos are not fighting dogs, sticking closer to home would more likely mean fewer possibilities of running across a dog that is not so sweet-tempered.
Spayed Shih-poos will not face ovarian or uterine cancer and will also experience fewer incidences of breast cancer and have less likelihood of having uterine infections.
Neutering’s Benefits to the Shih-poo Family and Home
Shih-poo Mamas and Papas can also benefit from a neutered puppy. In spite of the veterinarian bill for the surgery, the money saved over the dog’s lifetime can dwarf the initial price of the neutering.
Additionally, your Shih-poo home will benefit from behavior that can be even more low-key and cuddling than before. Shih-poos are not aggressive by nature, but neutering your puppy can minimize the chance of your puppy developing such tendencies.
Neutering’s Benefits to the Community
Neutering or spaying your Shih-poo provides important benefits to your community as well. In the US, counties and nonprofit organizations spend millions of dollars each year to track and care for unwanted or abandoned dogs.
By neutering your Shih-poo, you contribute to limiting the population of unplanned puppies and thus unwanted dogs.
What the Surgeon does when Neutering or Spaying Your Shih-poo
Veterinarians do not generally allow Shih-poo families into their surgery area. If you have the stomach for it, you can watch highlights from a labrador’s castration at Rowlette Veterinarian Clinic here.
The surgical team begins by taking the puppy’s vital signs, which would at least include blood pressure, pulse, and temperature, to ensure his or her strength and health in advance of the operation.
Next, comes the IV for the general sedation. The team then inserts the endotracheal tube down the windpipe to assist with the puppy’s breathing during the surgery.
Are Shih-poos put under General Anesthesia for Neutering?
Yes, like the majority of dogs undergoing neutering, Shih-poos are placed under general anesthesia during this surgery.
Shih-poo Male Castration
Next, the team prepares for the surgery by shaving and disinfecting the surgical site while the veterinarian scrubs his or her hands and suits up in a sterile surgical gown and gloves.
The team members check the anesthesia machine and ensure it is functioning properly and prepared. They also prepare the surgical area by shaving and disinfecting the puppy.
The incision is finally made in the puppy’s scrotum, just large enough to squeeze the testicles through (or “exteriorized”). Once exteriorized, the blood supply is clamped and tied off, after which the testicles are removed with a scalpel and the incision is closed with internal and external stitches.
As your puppy comes out of the general anesthesia, he or she should be covered with warm blankets and loving attention to help stay calm and comforted. There will also be ice packs on the incision site to minimize the pain.
Most neutered male dogs can return home the afternoon of their surgery.
Shih-poo Female Ovariohysterectomy
If you care to watch a video of a dog’s ovariohysterectomy, you can see it here on YouTube.
While the surgeries are quite different, the general procedures can appear similar. After the incision in the female puppy’s abdomen, the veterinarian located and exteriorizes the uterus and then the ovaries.
Blood vessels are ligated (tied off) to prevent bleeding. Spaying a puppy involves more pulling and tugging of the organs than does a male castration, and, not surprisingly, requires greater recovery time.
Will my Spayed Shih-poo Stay Overnight at the Pet Hospital?
Yes, female dogs typically stay overnight at the veterinarian’s office or pet hospital for observation and to help with recovery. The ovariohysterectomy involves the removal of larger internal organs and the cutting of more internal tissues than does a castration, so a female puppy will naturally benefit from extended recovery care.
Risks for Spaying and Neutering
While neutering offers health benefits as mentioned above, studies exist that cite increased risks of other cancers in dogs that have been neutered or spayed before puberty.
Additionally, abnormal bone growth and the potential for joint injuries also appear to increase based on several studies.
It seems that for every study showing a benefit or risk resulting from neutering or spaying, there is another study arguing for the opposite effect. For this reason, you do your own research about the various possible outcomes of neutering, after which you should have an honest and frank discussion with your veterinarian. Ask the tough questions and discuss the possible consequences of your choices. Make the decision based on your needs and your puppy’s needs.
Obviously, if you chose not to neuter your puppy, you must commit to great responsibility toward the community be avoiding possible unwanted pregnancies. To twist a well-known phrase from Spiderman’s uncle, “With great responsibility comes great changes to your lifestyle.”
The Cost of Neutering a Shih-poo
You might think, or at least hope, that since your Shih-poo is a tiny dog, you will pay less for neutering than families of larger breeds. Such is not necessarily the case. The cost of neutering a Shih-poo may also depend upon your puppy’s age, where you live, other health issues your puppy is facing, and the type of anesthesia the veterinarian uses.
You may be able to find neutering and spaying services in your area that charge as little as $50 while others may cost as much as $250 or more.
Most veterinarians offer neutering services in their offices, though not all. Do not feel shy about calling around to ask about pricing. However, when you do, ask about the type of anesthesia, whether medications for pain and antibiotics are included, and if there are any follow up services covered.
If you choose a veterinarian office with a monthly payment plan, neutering and spaying will likely be one of the services included in the plan.
Low-cost Neutering Options
Animal shelters in your area will typically offer the lowest cost options. However, many have income limitations or may only have the capacity to include spaying and neutering for animals rescued from their facilities.
Caring for Your Neutered Shih-poo at Home
Because your Shih-poo, whether you have a male or a female, will have just undergone an invasive surgery, he or she will need several days to recover. If you work, you may want to consider taking a day or two off to care for your sweet little furiend.
Neither of our Shih-poos whined or cried at all. Many dogs do not express pain the way people and children do. Instead, your Shih-poo may be less active or less willing to cuddle. He or she may not have much of an appetite, may want to stay in his or her bed or crate, or may even, unbelievable as it seems, act a bit grumpy or even snappy.
Even if your Shih-poo acts no different after surgery than they did before, as our two puppies did, you will still want to work to restrict their activity so their surgical sites can heal fully and more quickly.
When I arrived at the vet’s to pick up our Shih-poos after their neutering surgery, they were excited to see me, wagging their tails, and wanting to give me their normal cheek “kisses.” Had I not known better, I never would have known they had just undergone a serious surgery.
When we brought our puppies home, the veterinarian sent me with prescription pain killers. Most likely, your Shih-poo will have received some long-lasting pain management medication during the surgery, but as it wears off a day or so later, you should offer your puppy the pain medication as directed by your vet.
Even if your furry friend exhibits no signs of pain (no whining, no crying, no agitation), he or she may just be processing pain differently. Offer the pain management medication according to the prescription.
The collar should be large enough to keep your puppy from reaching his or her incision but small enough to allow him or her to turn around in the crate.
Our vet sent our youngest Shih-poo home with a “small” collar, which seemed to protect the incisions from our puppy’s licking. By the next morning, though, we noticed that such was not the case. In such cases, your vet should simply exchange the mis-sized collar for one that is a better fit.
Collars from the vet will typically be made of hard and bendable plastic, but there are other options, from colored cones to softer fabric cones. You might even consider turning the next seven to ten days into a costume party by getting your puppy a themed collar like this lion’s mane.
And when the veterinarian suggests keeping the collar on 24/7 for 10 days, listen. With our first Shih-poo, we took the collar off at night after a week and ended up having to take him back in when his incision got infected. With our second, it was worth the extra effort to keep the collar on a few days longer than we thought necessary.
Activity and Exercise
Many puppies will behave no different after surgery than before. Others will be more likely to cuddle up and sleep on your lap. Still others will want to be in their crate all day except for eating and taking care of their outside business.
Generally, you should minimize the amount of high-energy exercising you give your dog. You will also want to minimize rough-housing to avoid tearing or damaging the incision and its stitches.
You should, however, definitely offer your Shih-poo the chance to go on on-leash walks around the neighborhood. Such mild forms of exercise are healthy for your puppy and good for you as well.
Demands on Family
Besides taking time off work, you should also avoid family vacations for the immediate two weeks after surgery. While the puppy will be mostly healed by the end of the week, you don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised by having to find a veterinarian for an infection while traveling.
Long-term Effects of Neutering
We have a lot of assumptions about what a dog should or should not do after being neutered. Here are just a few of the surprises we encountered with our male Shih-poos.
Male Shih-poos may Still Life their Leg to Pee
We assumed that our male Shih-poos would never lift their legs to urinate again after neutering. Imagine our surprise, then, when we were out for a walk with our neutered furbaby and he starts lifting his leg at ever tree and signposts in the neighborhood.
While our puppy urinates in the back yard standing on all four paws, he still lifts his leg when “marking” objects and leaving messages for other dogs in the neighborhood.
Male Shih-poos may Still Attempt to Mount another Dog
Neutering is typically done at the onset of puberty. Our puppies had both just barely begun to attempt to mount other dogs, our own legs, and even their stuff play toys before neutering. We assumed that such behavior would end after neutering.
Surprisingly, our oldest puppy still goes through the mounting motions from time to time, especially with his stuffed bear.
Male Shih-poo May still “Drip”
Our final surprise was based more on our hope than an assumption. Our youngest puppy always seemed a little too excited to see us after even the briefest of separations. Even after going outside to pee, he would need to be wiped on his underside because of his “excitement.”
We hoped that having him neutered would prevent this issue. After all, no one wants their puppy rubbing their wet privates on the family room carpet or rug. Post-surgery, we have found we still need to pat him off because he is still wet, mostly from urinating.
How long after surgery will your Shih-poo poop? Veterinarians instruct dog owners not to feed their puppies on the day of neutering. Because your Shih-poo did not eat the day of surgery, you should not expect him or her not to poop for the rest of the day, although there may be exceptions.
How long will my Shih-poo be in pain after surgery? Although Shih-poos are surprisingly tough and resilient dogs and may not whine or appear to be in pain after being neutered, your veterinarian will likely prescribe three or four days of painkillers for you to give your puppy at mealtime up to twice a day.