Dog Depression: How to Spot it and Treat it

Depression is common in humans and dog depression may be just as common. How common is depression? According to Healthline, it is estimated that 16.2 million adults in the United States suffer from depression. The CDC documents that approximately 9% of Americans report they are depressed at least occasionally, and 3.4% suffer from “major depression.” Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults have at least one major depressive episode in a given year. The definition of major depression in humans is “a mental health condition marked by an overwhelming feeling of sadness, isolation and despair that affects how a person thinks, feels and functions.

Dog depression may be just as common but is harder to recognize.

How to Spot Signs of Dog Depression

Just as with people, every dog responds differently to stress. For example, a person that loses their job may become depressed while another person may see opportunity and be relieved or rejuvenated. One dog being rehomed may be withdrawn, less interactive, guarded, scared, nervous, aggressive, stop eating, or have a decreased appetite while another dog may be euphoric. Learn more about how to recognize depression in your dog. Go to: What are Dog Depression Symptoms?

What Causes Dog Depression

What causes depression in one dog can be entirely different than in another dog. Just as it is difficult to predict or generalize how people will respond to stress or what will make a person depressed, it is difficult to determine or predict what will make a dog depressed.

The most common things associated with dog depression are the following:

  • Illness. Dogs that are sick and don’t feel good may be depressed.
  • Loss of mobility. Just as illness can cause depression, loss of mobility can also cause depression in some dogs. For a previously active dog to not be able to run, play, walk, and exercise can really take an emotional toll on some dogs. This can be caused from a back injury, trauma such as a fracture, or from degenerative disease (arthritis) in older dogs.
  • Loss of routine. Some dogs can become very depressed from a change in their routine. This can occur from when the kids go back to school, an owner loses a job or takes on a new job, or a change in work hours that leads to disruption in the dog’s day-to-day rituals.
  • Loss of an owner or caregiver. A very common cause of depression in dogs is the loss of someone close to them. The loss can be death or from someone moving out or leaving the home. The death of an owner, a child leaving for college, or someone moving from a divorce can all create a profound sense of loss and void in a dog’s life.
  • Loss of a housemate. Just as the loss of a caregiver can impact dogs, so can the loss of another pet in the home. Most commonly the pet is another dog but could also be a cat or other species. When you think about it, if a dog’s routine is to see the other pet, eat with it, walk, play and they suddenly aren’t there, they can become depressed. It is important to note that a change in your dog’s behavior can be from their depression or can be them responding to your sadness. If you are mourning the loss of a dog and depressed yourselves, this can affect them.
  • Moving. Moving can be stressful for us but also for our dogs. They suddenly lose their territory and safety net. Usually, the move is a huge disruption in the routine and environment. Movers, moving boxes, packing, unpacking, etc. can all impact the daily walks and time spent with you. This can cause depression in some dogs.
  • Rehoming. A new home and family can be exciting to some dogs but depressing to others. They may miss something from their prior life or feel displaced. On top of that they are trying to understand the new owners, new rules in the house, new routine, getting new food, new bowls, and well…new everything, which can be stressful. Stress can cause depression.
  • New Pet or Person. Just as pet loss or human loss can cause depression, some dogs will become depressed when a new pet or person enters their life. This can impact their routine and day-to-day lifestyle. The new pet may take attention away from them.

What You Can Do for Dog Depression

Treatments for dog depression can be categorized into pharmacological (drug) treatments and nonpharmacological treatments.

The best recommendation to treat dog depression is to do the following:

  1. Figure out why. The best thing to do is to consider why your dog may be depressed. As you consider the possible cause, also consider what your dog’s life must be like on a day-to-day basis. Is there lots of stimulation? Playtime? Exercise? Attention? Or is it boring? Is he ignored? Even tied to a dog house or in a crate for hours?
  2. Optimize your dog’s life. Make sure your dog has a great routine consisting of plenty of exercise, daily walks, frequent opportunities to go to the bathroom, predictable meal schedules, belly rubs, and plenty of assurance that they are the best dog in the whole world. Here are some tips on how to help your dog. Go to: Is My Dog Depressed? How to Help Your Pup
  3. See your vet. Make sure your dog is healthy and that you are not mistaking symptoms of depression for symptoms of illness. They can seem similar and it can be hard to tell. Your vet may want to do a physical examination and run some routine blood work.
  4. Natural remedies. Some natural remedies that can help some dogs with depression include Bach flower, Ignatia, Spirit Essences Grouch
  5. Remedy, Green Hope Farm Grief, and Loss Remedy. Check with your veterinarian and see if they have a product that has worked well for them.
  6. Drugs. As a very last resort, you could work with your veterinarian to try pharmacological treatment for your dog’s depression. Most dogs respond to playtime, exercise, and quality time with you. To learn more about possible drug therapies, go to: How Does Dog Depression Treatment Work?
  7. Give it time. It can take time for the treatments to work. Relax and enjoy being with your dog. Give it some time. Most times they will come around and return to their normal dog selves.

Articles Related to Dog Depression

Is My Dog Depressed? How to Help Your Pup 
What are Dog Depression Symptoms?
How Does Dog Depression Treatment Work?
What is Puppy Depression (the kind People Get)?
Dogs that Lick Themselves – Understanding Acral Lick Dermatitis
Our Stress, Depression, Joy…Can Dogs Tell?
Not Feline Fine: Dealing with Feline Depression
Does Your Dog Need Anxiety Medication?

Can Dogs Be Vegetarian?

Should Dogs be Fed a Vegetarian Diet or is Meat Essential to Their Overall Health?

Many vegetarian dog owners wonder if they’re able to feed their dogs a meat-free diet. Can dogs be vegetarian? The short answer is yes. Dogs are actually omnivores, even though it’s often assumed that they’re carnivores. While dogs are descended from wolves, their bodies are able to receive the nutrients they need from both plants and animals.

Two of the key things that dogs have difficulty receiving from a vegan diet are proteins and fats, but with a vegetarian diet, it’s easier for dogs to get these from eggs and dairy products. Eggs are also rich in amino acids, which is another nutrient that is typically derived from meat.

So, if you’re a vegetarian and you’d prefer not to handle meat to feed your dog, or if you want to share the health benefits that you’ve found with your dog, a vegetarian dog is possible. Plus, if your dog has food allergies, a vegetarian diet might be able to bring him some ease when it comes to eating. Believe it or not, food allergies are actually one of the most common issues that dogs face (behind flea bites) so having your dog switch to a vegetarian option might not be as odd as it seems.

Although dogs’ bodies are built to eat meat, see their long snouts, strong jaws, and sharp teeth, dogs are still able to get the nutrients they need to stay healthy from other sources than just meat. However, as with any diet, there are some dangers that dog owners need to be aware of to ensure they don’t run into any issues.

Can Dogs Be Vegetarian? Here Are the Risks

With any dietary change that you want to make with your dog, you should always consult your vet first. Your vet will be able to tell you what to do first, how to get your dog to eat a new food, and even make suggestions for nutrient-rich dog foods that fit the change you want to make.

It’s also important to remember that humans and dogs are very different. Their bodies process foods a lot differently than ours do, so don’t assume that they’ll react the same way that you do when they’re eating vegetarian-friendly foods. If your dog’s specific nutrient needs aren’t met, the consequences can be dangerous. Nutrient deficiencies aren’t something you want your dog to experience. If they’re not caught early, they can turn into serious issues that could potentially kill your dog because their body is shutting down.

Also, it’s important to note that if you plan on breeding your dog in the future, a vegetarian or vegan diet won’t be possible.

While a vegetarian diet for your dog is possible, it can be dangerous if you don’t pay careful attention to what your dog is eating, and make sure that your dog is staying healthy by regularly checking in with your vet. Regular checks for dogs on a vegan or vegetarian diet should be more regular than what you’re used to, too. Your checkups should include blood work and be at least twice a year so that your vet can check that all your dog’s nutrient levels are where they should be.

Compared to a vegan diet, a vegetarian diet is a lot easier to manage, but still requires a decent amount of work. The dangers and risks are still present even though it’s not as difficult for your dog to get what he needs. The best thing you can do is talk to your vet to make sure you’re not forgetting any important steps, and keep doing your research so you fully understand what you’re getting into.

Can Dogs Be Vegan?

Is a Vegan Diet Safe for Dogs?

Can dogs be vegan? Technically speaking, yes, but the bigger question is whether or not a vegan diet is safe for your dog.

Unlike cats, dogs are able to process a vegan diet because they can be considered omnivores, (although there is a lot of debate around that idea). Some dogs are even allergic to animal proteins, and a vegan diet might be the best option to ensure they don’t run into any health dangers with what they’re eating.

For humans, a vegan diet is rich in benefits, and if you are a vegan you know firsthand how great those benefits are. Why shouldn’t you be able to extend those benefits to your dog?

On the surface, it can feel like a great idea at first. But dogs don’t process their food the same way as people, and they need different types and amounts of essential nutrients in order to stay healthy. So, can dogs be vegan? Let’s take a deeper look at what a dog’s diet needs to have.

The reason that dogs are technically able to take on a vegan diet is that their bodies are equipped to receive their essential nutrients from both plants and animals. While cats lose several key nutrients with a vegan diet, dogs are actually able to get everything they need from plants. However, meat is widely regarded as the source where dogs can get the most protein.

Every vegan loves being asked where they get their protein from, and this doesn’t change when you consider switching your dog to a vegan diet. The big things that a dog will miss are the proteins and fats that they’d normally receive from animal products. Dogs need their diets to be about 15 to 30 percent protein. While it’s pretty easy for humans to prove all the places they’re able to get protein, for dogs it’s a little harder. Especially because a few that they need — keratin, elastin, and collagen — are almost impossible to derive from a vegan diet.

Everything else that dogs need to have a healthy diet can be derived from plant-based foods though. Yet dog owners should be aware that while there are a number of fruits and vegetables that dogs love to munch on, there’s an equal amount that you should, under no circumstances, feed your dog. Grapes, which cause renal failure, are one of the most commonly known toxic foods for dogs.

What Problems Could Dogs Face on a Vegan Diet?

A lack of protein and vitamin and mineral deficiency are two of the biggest potential problems that dogs could face on a vegan diet. This is why it’s so crucial to pay careful attention to what your dog is eating while they’re vegan, because it’s easy to miss something. Unfortunately for dogs, with a vegan diet there’s not a ton of room for error, so if you’re not feeding your dog the correct nutrients, they could be at risk for potential health problems.

Deficiencies basically cause your dog’s body to deteriorate because their body is no longer getting key factors that it needs to function properly. Depending on the severity of the type of deficiency and when it’s caught, these health issues could even be life-threatening.

If you want to feed your dog a vegan diet, the best way to make sure he’s getting all the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that he needs is to work with a pet nutritionist. They’ll be able to help you come up with a specific diet for your dog that checks all the boxes for what your dog needs to remain healthy while eating vegan.

If you aren’t able to see a pet nutritionist, there are vegan dog foods available that are formulated to have everything your dog needs. Brands like V-Dog offer plant-based nutrition for dogs that are adjusting to a vegan diet.

You’ll also want to make sure that you talk to your vet before and after you switch your dog to a vegan diet. If your dog can go vegan, your vet will be able to offer appropriate advice for how and what to feed your dog, as well as suggest any tests that should be done to ensure that your dog isn’t becoming deficient in any of the essential vitamins or nutrients that he needs. At the end of the day, your dog’s health is always your top concern, and it’s better to give your dog what their body was designed to eat, rather than having them follow the same dietary regimen as you. With the exception being if your dog is allergic to animal proteins, a vegan diet is sustainable for dogs, but not always the best option. Your dog’s health should always come first, so discuss your concerns with your vet to make sure you’re taking the best path forward.

Is Vegan Dog Food Safe for Your Pet?

While Dogs Can Process Both Plants and Animal Products, Vegan Dog Food Might Not Include All the Nutrients They Need

Should you feed your dog vegan dog food? What about a vegan diet? While dogs can technically handle a vegan diet, vegan dog food might not have all the nutrients that your dog needs to be healthy.

While veganism is a choice that many humans make for both ethical and health reasons, it’s key to remember that dogs and humans process foods differently. It’s easy for us to see and feel the benefits of a vegan diet, but they’re not necessarily the same for your dog. Dogs are omnivores, which means that their bodies are able to digest and absorb essential nutrients from most plants and animals. However, when you omit animal products completely, the main things that dogs lose are proteins and fats. Every vegan loves being asked where they get their protein from, but with dogs, the argument is a little harder to back up.

A dog’s diet needs to be about 15 to 30 percent protein, and a few of the essential ones like keratin, elastin, and collagen are pretty difficult to get from a plant-based diet. However, with the right nutrition planning a vegan diet can be done. The question is whether or not you should feed your dog a vegan diet.

For some dogs, food allergies make it difficult to eat any animal proteins. These are one of the most common allergies that dogs face, and a vegan diet can make it a little easier for your dog to eat. In some cases, a vegetarian diet might be the better option, but that’s why it’s crucial that you speak with a vet or a vet nutritionist to determine what’s best to feed your dog.

If you’re a vegan for ethical reasons, it can be difficult to justify feeding your dog animal products because it goes against what you believe in. However, this is when it’s important for you to focus on the fact that being a vegan was your choice, and your dog doesn’t have the ability to make the same choice. A vegan diet can be extremely dangerous for dogs if it’s handled incorrectly, and there’s not a lot of room for error. If your dog doesn’t receive the right amounts of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, it can be deadly.

Of course, it does take a lot to get to that point, and severe health issues tend to stem from deficiencies in protein or other vitamins that your dog needs to survive. If they’re spotted early they can be corrected, but if they’re not your dog’s health can take a significant turn for the worse.

If you want to switch your dog to a vegan diet, there are vegan dog foods available that include all the essential nutrients of a dog’s diet, but make sure you check with your vet and schedule regular checkups to ensure that your dog’s levels stay normal.

Can Dogs be Vegetarian?

Whereas a vegan diet is a little trickier to manage, a vegetarian diet for dogs is a lot easier to tackle. Although some people believe that dogs should eat meat, your dog can live without meat in their life and remain healthy.

A vegetarian diet for dogs doesn’t struggle to find the right amount of proteins or fats mainly because of eggs. With eggs, your dog is able to get a strong source of protein as well as amino acids, which are another key factor of a healthy diet. There are plenty of dog foods available that are meat-free but utilize dairy and eggs to provide a well-balanced meal.

If your dog has food allergies, a vegetarian diet makes it easy for your pet to avoid foods that may irritate him so he can get the food he needs without issue. If you’re making the switch for ethical reasons, you’ll want to have a discussion with your vet to be sure that your dog is getting the right combination of nutrients. Your vet will be able to recommend good dog foods to choose from and help you identify signs that something might be wrong with your dog related to their diet.

Overall, dogs can make the switch, it’s just important that you’re cautious and paying close attention to what your dog needs. If you have cats, you might be wondering if they can switch to a vegan or vegetarian diet as well. However, for cats, it’s not the same situation.

Is There Such a Thing as Vegan Cat Food?

Just like you have to consider the difference between how dogs and humans digest foods, you have to consider cats as well. If you’re a vegan and want to share your lifestyle with your cat, it actually isn’t a good idea. Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that cats need meat in their diet in order to receive the key nutrients to stay healthy. Most vets strongly recommend against vegan cat food and vegan diets for cats because of how much they’ll lose without meat.

What to Expect After Neutering a Dog

Dog owners often have questions about dog neutering and what to expect after neutering a dog. First, let’s define the words Neuter and Spay. Neuter, from the Latin word neuter, means the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term neuter is often used incorrectly when it is used to refer to male animals when the term neuter correctly refers to both males and females. The correct term for males is “Castration” while the correct term used for females is “Spay” or “Spaying”.

For this purpose of this article, we will refer to neutering in regards to the male dog. For details about how to prepare for neutering and what happens the day of neutering – please read: What Happens When You Neuter a Dog? If you have a female dog, learn more about What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed.

For those of that are still planning your dog neuter, this article may help you understand the cost and why the cost can vary. Go to: How Much Does Dog Spaying or Dog Neutering Cost?

The risks associated with castration in a healthy young dog is very low. While there are no published statistics, it is estimated that the risk of death is probably less than 1 in 500. The major risks are those of general anesthesia, bleeding, post-operative infection, and wound breakdown over the incision. Overall the complication rate is very low, but serious complications can result in death or the need for additional surgery.

How Your Dog Will Start Recovery After Being Neutered

Most dogs are released the same day or occasionally the day following surgery. After being neutered, your dog may feel tired or groggy. He may want to sleep more for the first day or two. Occasionally, some dogs may feel nauseated and not eat his full meal or on rare occasions even vomit. Generally, young dogs begin to act normally within 24 to 48 hours.

Additional recommendations for care post neuter surgery include:

  • Post-operative medication should be given to relieve pain, which is judged in most cases to be mild to moderate.
  • Keep your dog quiet for approximately two weeks after he returns home from the hospital to allow him to heal. Some dogs may be prescribed sedative medications to help keep him calm.
  • Two commonly prescribed medications include Acepromazine and Trazodone.
  • Do not allow him to be excessively active and prevent him from “rough-housing.”
  • Skin sutures, if present, will be removed in 10 to 14 days. Most often the sutures are absorbable. Many veterinarians may want to check the incision one-week post-surgery to ensure he is healing normally.
  • If the castration was performed for reasons other than to prevent reproduction, further treatment and/or monitoring may be necessary.
  • You should inspect the incision line daily for signs of redness, discharge, swelling, or pain.
  • Do not allow your dog to lick or chew at the incision. If your pet licks the incision line, prevent your pet from licking by placing an e-collar.

Other Changes: What to Expect After Neutering a Dog

You may notice that your dog is calmer and more relaxed. Neutered dogs no longer have the intense drive to mate, roam, and seek out females. This change is not immediate as it may take weeks after castration for the hormones to gradually dissipate from their system. Other changes you may expect after neutering is that dogs will roam less, stay closer to home, do less urine marking, fight less, be less hyper, and become more affectionate and gentle. Some pets may gain weight after neutering and as they get older. Cutting back on food intake or increasing your pet’s activity will help reduce weight gain.

What You Should Plan On, How To Notice If Something Is Wrong

The best way to determine if something is wrong is to monitor your dog’s incision. If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge from the incision, you should call your veterinarian immediately.

If our dog is lethargic, won’t eat, has vomited more than once, diarrhea, or you have any other concerns, please call your veterinarian.

How Your Pet Insurance Can Help

Clients often ask for suggestions to help with dog neuter costs. There are low-cost neuter clinics available in most areas. Learn more about the pros and cons with this article: Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Your Local Vet.

If you haven’t scheduled the procedure yet, there are pet insurance policies that will help pay for “wellness” costs which include the neuter procedure. If your dog already had the neuter procedure, pet insurance can help you pay for other wellness costs such as vaccinations, deworming, dental cleanings, and parasite prevention. In addition to wellness care coverage, the main benefit to pet insurance is how they can help pay for up to 90% of unexpected of your veterinary bills. Learn more from Pets Best here.

What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed?

Spaying is a procedure performed on female dogs (and cats) that remove their reproductive organs to prevent them from having puppies or kittens. In this article, we will review what happens when a dog gets spayed, how to prepare your dog for the surgery, and how to care for your dog after surgery. If you have a male dog, you may be interested in these articles — What Happens When You Neuter a Dog? and What to Expect After Neutering a Dog.

Spaying is most commonly recommended around 6 months of age, however, can be done as early as 6 to 8 weeks as well as later in life. The best time to spay a dog is when they are young and healthy. The worst time to spay a dog is when they are old, sick and have secondary complications from not being spayed such as a uterine infection called pyometra or breast cancer.

Why Dog Spaying is Important

Having your dog spayed can have many health, financial, and behavioral benefits. The benefits to spaying your dog include:

  • Prevents your dog from going into heat
  • Prevents your dog from getting pregnant
  • May make your dog more gentle and affectionate
  • May help prevent your dog from getting breast cancer later in life
  • Prevents your dog from getting an infection in the uterus later in life
  • Prevents cancer of the uterus or ovaries
  • The cost of spaying is far less expensive than the cost of raising a litter of puppies
  • Spaying your dog when she is young and healthy is less risky and much less expensive than spaying after your dog is ill or has a problem

What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed

The spaying procedure, medically known as an ovariohysterectomy, is the surgical procedure in which both ovaries and most of the uterus is removed from your dog’s body.
Below we will provide details of what happens before surgery, the day of surgery and some information about post-op spay care.

What to Expect the Day Before The Surgery

Before surgery, your vet will provide you with recommendations on what you should do the day before the spay surgery. For most dogs, they will recommend that you not feed your dog food after 6 pm or give water after midnight the night before surgery. This means no food and no treats. The times may vary slightly based on your veterinarian’s preference and also other factors such as concurrent medical problems or the size and breed of your dog. For example, some small and toy breed dogs may be offered food later in the evening to prevent a low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

If your dog is taking medication, ask your vet if they want you to give the medication the morning of surgery. Make sure that you follow those instructions exactly. If your dog is a diabetic, please discuss the insulin dose you should give with the staff prior to the morning of surgery. Plan to bring any medication that your dog is taking with you in case they decide to give it to them or your dog needs to stay in the hospital.

Your vet will ask you to bring your dog to the hospital in the morning at a specific time. Many clinics will ask that you drop off your dog between 7 am and 9 am but this varies with the hospital’s surgery schedule.

What to Expect the Day of Surgery

You will need to load up your dog and take her to the hospital. Make sure the collar fits properly and she cannot slip out of it. Bring them on a regular leash and not a retractable leash. Small dogs can be taken in a pet carrier.

Below is what happens at many veterinary hospitals but the exact protocol may vary depending on your veterinarian and the individual veterinary hospital.

  • When you arrive at the veterinary hospital, they will likely ask you to sign a surgery consent form that confirms the surgery to be performed as well as routine questions about if you want optional baseline bloodwork or an electrocardiogram (EKG), any needed vaccinations, CPR status, if you would you’re your dog microchipped (if not already done), and any other procedures such as removal of baby teeth, dewclaw removal, or repair of an abnormal hernia. Older dogs may also have mass removals after the spay procedure. This consent form may also include a cost estimate.
  • It is also important that you provide the veterinary hospital with an accurate phone number where you can be reached during the day.
  • Once your dog arrives, she will be taken back to the hospital’s treatment room where she will be evaluated by the technicians for any problems. Often at this time they will draw blood if approved by you to ensure your dog’s organs are healthy. If they identify any problems or concerns, the doctor will call you before proceeding.
  • The doctor will examine your dog and give injectable sedation. While your dog is relaxed, they will often shave the leg to place of an intravenous (IV) catheter and give additional drugs that allow total relaxation.
  • Your dog will then be moved into the surgery room. Most dogs are intubated (a tube placed into the trachea) to deliver safe inhalation anesthesia. Veterinary hospitals have anesthesia protocols that consist of very safe drugs and monitoring equipment that constantly monitors your dog’s heart rate, respirations, blood pressure, EKG, and temperature. The monitoring equipment is attached to your dog.
  • Your dog will then be positioned on her back and feet secured to the edges of the table. The technician will generally proceed to shave the hair on your dog’s belly. Disinfectant is then used to gently and thoroughly clean the skin.
  • Your veterinarian will put on a sterile hat, gloves, and a gown and organize their surgical instruments for surgery. An incision is made near the belly button and will vary in length depending on the size of your dog. The uterus and ovaries are identified and surgically removed. The body wall, tissues between the body wall and skin, and finally the skin is sutured closed. The actual surgery takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes depending on your dog’s age, breed, and size.
  • Your dog will continue to be monitored as they wake up from their anesthesia. This can take anywhere from an hour to several hours. At first, they are groggy then gradually become more aware and alert as the drugs wear off.
  • When you pick your dog up from the vet, the veterinary team will provide you with detailed post-op instructions. Your pet may be sent home with pain medication and/or antibiotics. Those instructions will most likely include:
    • Keep your dog in her e-collar at all times until your vet gives you the clearance to remove it. This will most likely be approximately 10 to 14 days post-op.
    • Keep an eye on your dog’s stitches to monitor its recovery. If the area becomes inflamed, swollen, or has discharge, please call your veterinarian immediately. Some dogs have sutures and other dogs have sutures under the skin that are absorbable. This will vary with the veterinarian.
    • Keep your dog calm for two weeks after surgery. If there are other dogs in your house, you may need to keep your dogs separated post-op.
    • You may need to get creative with your feeding routine. With the e-collar on, some dogs won’t be able to eat out of their food dish. Most have found success by elevating their dog’s dish so that the e-collar doesn’t hit the floor while they’re eating.
    • You’ll need to keep up with your dog’s pain management routine carefully post-op. Attach a magnetic whiteboard to your fridge so that you can write down when you last gave your dog meds and when it will need them again.

What to Expect After Dog Spay Surgery

Some dogs will be sleepy immediately after surgery and some will be slightly nauseated. Begin feeding your dog slowly, small amounts at a time. Immediately after surgery, offer small amounts of water. If there is no vomiting, you can offer small amounts of food. Don’t offer a huge meal as some dogs may vomit. Give a little bit of food at a time and you can always offer later.
What is most critical is to keep your dog quiet and ensure she doesn’t lick at her incision. If there is any indication she will lick at her incision, it is critical that you use an E-Collar.
Check the incision twice daily looking for swelling, redness or discharge. Call your vet immediately if you notice any problems. Assuming everything goes well, see your vet for any recommended follow-up appointments and suture removal.

What Happens When You Neuter a Dog?

Dog owners commonly have questions about what happens when you neuter a dog. Below we will review exactly what happens before, during and after neuter surgery. First, let’s review the terminology used for dog neutering because the term “neuter” is commonly used incorrectly.

Neuter, from the Latin word neuter, means the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term neuter is often used improperly when it is used to refer to male animals when the term neuter correctly refers to both males and females. The correct term for males is “Castration” while the correct term used for females is “Spay” or “Spaying”.
For the purpose of this article, we will use the term neutering as a term to mean castration of a male dog.

Why Dog Neutering Is Important

Each year, there are millions of dogs turned over to animal shelters. Last year it was estimated that the number was almost 20 million. If you look at the fact that only one out of every 10 dogs taken in to shelters find homes, that means 18 million dogs and cats were destroyed. This brings a tear to my eye just typing these words.

Neutering can prevent this. Neutering is a simple procedure that can prevent unwanted animals.
The benefits of neutering include:

  • Removes the risk of pregnancy.
  • Dogs are often calmer, less roaming, fewer aggression issues.
  • Eliminates or minimizes health issues such as prostate problems, breast cancer in females, uterine cancer, and uterine infections.
  • Castration is especially important in dogs that testicles fail to descend into the scrotum. There is a high rate of cancer in these dogs and neutering can minimize the chance of future problems.

When Are Most Dogs Neutered?

Neutering is done most commonly at or around six months of age. However, many veterinarians perform this procedure as early as 8 to 10 weeks. Early neutering can be done safely and has a number of advantages, especially in cases of pet adoption.

There are some studies that suggest there are health benefits to neutering later in life. Learn more in this article: To Neuter or Not to Neuter.
In general, most veterinarians recommend neutering around 6 months of age.

What Happens When You Neuter a Dog

The male neutering procedure, medically known as a castration or orchiectomy, is a surgical procedure in which both testicles are removed from the dog’s body.

What to Expect the Day Before The Surgery

Your veterinarian will provide you with recommendations on what you can do the day before the surgery. For most dogs, they will recommend that you not feed your dog food after 6 pm or give water after midnight the night before surgery. This means no food and no treats. This may vary slightly as some toy breed dogs may be offered food later to prevent low blood sugar problems (hypoglycemia).

If your dog is taking medication, ask your vet if they want you to give the medication the morning of surgery. Make sure that you follow those instructions exactly. If your dog is a diabetic, please discuss the insulin dose you should give with the staff prior to the morning of the neuter. Plan to bring any medications your dog is taking with you in case they decide to give it or your dog needs to stay.

Your vet will ask you to bring your dog to the hospital in the morning at a specific time. Many clinics will ask that you drop off your dog between 7 am and 9 am but this varies with the hospital’s surgery schedule.

What to Expect the Day of Surgery

You will need to load up your dog and take him to the hospital. Make sure the collar fits properly and your dog cannot slip out of it and plan to use a regular leash (preferred over retractable leads). Small dogs can be taken in a pet carrier as well.

Below is what happens at many veterinary hospitals but the exact procedure may vary depending on your veterinary and the individual vet hospital.

  • When you arrive at the veterinary hospital, they will likely ask you to sign a surgery consent form that confirms the exact surgery to be performed. It will also include routine questions about if you want baseline bloodwork, any needed vaccinations if you would like your dog microchipped (if not already done), and any other procedures such as removal of baby teeth, dewclaw removal, or repair of an abnormal hernia. Older dogs may also have mass removals after a neuter procedure. This consent form commonly includes a CPR form. CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a routine question asked for any pet undergoing anesthesia. Don’t be alarmed. We are asked the same questions when we go to the ER or are admitted to the hospital. The veterinary team will do everything possible to provide the safest experience for your dog but are obligated to ask this question to honor your beliefs and wishes in regards to CPR. This consent form may also include a cost estimate.
  • It is important that the veterinary hospital have an accurate phone number where you can be reached during the day.
  • Once your dog is at the veterinary hospital, he will be taken back to the hospital’s treatment room where he will be evaluated by the technicians for any problems. Often at this time they will draw blood if approved by you to ensure his organs are healthy. If they identify any problems or concerns, the doctor will call you before proceeding.
  • The doctor will examine your dog and give injectable sedation. While he is relaxed, they will often shave the leg to place an intravenous (IV) catheter and give additional drugs that allow total relaxation.
  • Your dog will then be moved into the surgery room. Most dogs are intubated (a tube placed into the trachea) to deliver safe inhalation anesthesia. Veterinary hospitals have anesthesia protocols that consist of very safe drugs and monitoring equipment that constantly monitors your dog’s heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, EKG, and temperature. The monitoring equipment is attached to your dog.
  • Your dog will then be placed on his back and feet secured to the edges of the table. The technician will generally proceed to shave the hair on your dog’s belly around the testicles.
  • Disinfectant is then used to gently and thoroughly clean the skin. A sterile drape is placed over the surgical site.
  • Your veterinarian will put on sterile hat, gloves, and gown and organize their surgical instruments for surgery. An incision is made just cranial to the testicles on the midline using a scalpel blade or laser. The length will depend on the size of your dog. The testicles are identified and surgically removed.
  • The incision is then closed with one or two layers of self-dissolving sutures (stitches). The outer layer of skin is closed with sutures or surgical staples. The actual surgery will only take about 20 to 45 minutes. The procedure can take longer in older or large-breed dogs.
  • Your dog continues to be monitored as they wake up from their anesthesia. This can take anywhere from an hour to several hours. At first, they are groggy then gradually become more aware and alert as the drugs wear off.
  • When you pick your dog up from the vet, the veterinary team will provide you with detailed post-op instructions. He may be sent home with pain medication and/or antibiotics. Those instructions will most likely include:
  • Keep your dog in its e-collar at all times until your vet gives you the clearance to remove it. This will most likely be approximately 10 to 14 days post-op.
  • Keep an eye on your dog’s stitches to monitor recovery. If the area becomes inflamed, swollen, or has discharge, talk to your vet. Some dogs have sutures and other dogs have sutures under the skin that are absorbable. This will vary with the veterinarian.
  • Keep your dog calm for two weeks after surgery. If there are other dogs in your house, you may need to keep your dogs separated post-op.
  • You may need to get creative with your feeding routine. With the e-collar on, some dogs won’t be able to eat out of their food dish. Most have found success by elevating their dog’s dish so that the e-collar doesn’t hit the floor while they’re eating.
  • Give your dog the prescribed medications. It can be helpful to attach a magnetic whiteboard or paper to your fridge so that you can write down when you last gave your dog meds and when it will need them again. This also helps all members of the household understand the medication schedule to minimize errors.

What to Expect After Dog Neuter Surgery

Some dogs will be sleepy immediately after surgery. Learn more about What to Expect After Neutering a Dog.

How to Deal with Dog Neuter Costs

Clients often ask for suggestions to help with dog Neuter costs. Learn more about How Much Does Dog Spaying or Dog Neutering Costs here. Some shelters have special pricing. Another option is to have pet insurance. Some pet insurance companies offer “basic care” or “wellness care” coverage that will cover routine care such as vaccinations, dental cleaning, parasite control, neutering, and much more. Pet insurance can help cover the cost of surgery and any associated complications. You can learn more about types of pet insurance at Pets Best.

Should You Worry About Your Dog Having Surgery?

Most healthy dogs do well during routine neuter surgery. By knowing what to expect and how to prepare yourself and your dog, the surgical procedure, hospital stay, and home recovery can go smoothly.

Additional Articles Related to Dog Neutering

How Much Does Dog Spaying or Dog Neutering Cost?

The cost to neuter a dog can vary based on the age of your dog, size, breed, if he or she is healthy or ill, your vet hospital, and where you live in the country. We will review dog-neutering costs, what is included with the dog neutering fee, and offer ideas on how to save money.

How Much Neutering and Spaying Can Cost On Average

The cost of neutering your pet generally includes a package of offerings. Before we get into that, let’s review the definitions of neutering and spaying. The term neutering refers to the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term neuter is often used incorrectly when it is used to refer to male animals when the term neuter correctly refers to both males and females.

The correct term for removal of an animal’s reproductive organ for males is “Castration” and the correct term used for females is “Spay” or “Spaying”.

Most veterinary clinics know what you mean when you ask about the price to neuter your dog but depending on the clinic – don’t be surprised if they ask if your dog is male or female. The cost for a spay surgery is higher than the cost for castration. Spaying takes longer and involves opening the abdominal cavity.

It is important to know what is and what is not included in the spay or castration fee. When you get a quote, ask what is included so there are no hidden costs or surprises.

The neutering procedure generally includes the following (this will vary with the individual each hospital):

  • Examination
  • Sedation
  • General anesthesia
  • The surgery (Spay or Castration)
  • Post-op recovery monitoring
  • Pain medications
  • Antibiotics (if needed)
  • Nail Trim
  • E-collar
  • Post-op recheck such as suture removal
  • Optional additional cost: Laser therapy of the area post-surgery
  • Optional additional cost: Screening blood work

When getting an estimate for spay or castration procedures, be sure to ask what is and what is not included. There are a few optional items that will be an additional cost such as prep bloodwork or an electrocardiogram (EKG) as health screening tool. Some clinics or veterinary hospitals have packages that include all of the above in the neuter costs.

Other services and procedures that are an additional cost include hernia repair, removal of baby teeth, anal gland expression, vaccinations, parasite control medications, and/or lump removals. Nail trims are often included with routine spay and neuter surgery, however, some clinics may charge an additional fee. Learn more about the step-by-step details of What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed and What Happens When You Neuter a Dog?

Cost ranges for a dog spay can vary from $65 to $500 and castration can range from $45 to $300 in most areas. The cost will also vary with the facility offering the procedure. Shelters, humane societies, and other low cost spay/neuter clinics are generally less expensive than veterinary hospitals. There can be a big difference in the cost just based on where you live in the clinic. A spay in New York City may be $500 while only $200 in the Midwest.

How The Size and Other Things Impacts The Surgery Cost

The size of your dog impacts the cost of surgery. Why? A bigger dog requires more drugs for sedation, more time to clip and clean the area, more time to do the surgery, more suture materials, more pain medications to go home, and well…more everything. Big dogs generally cost more.

Other factors that can impact the cost of spay and castration surgery for dogs is the breed, age, if your dog is sick, obese, or if your dog is in heat or pregnant. Some breeds such as bulldogs can require more time to do surgery. Young dogs are often less expensive to spay then older dogs. Younger dogs are often healthier, smaller, and therefore easier to spay. Obese dogs can require more surgical time. Dogs that are in heat or pregnant require more time to perform the surgery because the blood vessels that feed the reproductive organs are larger which lengthens the surgery time required. Lastly, if the spay or neuter procedure is done as a treatment for a sick dog, the cost is substantially higher because other treatments are required such as intravenous (IV) fluids, pain medications, and antibiotics. The hospitalization time is longer and the risk of complications are also higher with sick dogs. The recovery time is about the same for both small and large dogs. Most dogs will go home the same day of surgery or occasionally the day after.

How Pet Insurance Can Help You Manage The Costs

The amount of money pet owners in the United States spent on pets nearly doubled from 38.5 billion to 66.8 billion dollars over the past decade. Costs include one-time costs such as those associated with spaying and castration procedures, annual costs (such as food, treats, vaccinations, and parasite control), and unexpected costs (such as costs related to lacerations, bite wounds, or other medical problems).

  • Pet insurance can help you cover the costs of illness, unexpected trauma, as well as the cost for basic care ore “wellness” such as vaccinations, parasite control, and spaying and neutering your dog.
  • Pet insurance can be a very good way to help pet owners do the best they can while on a budget. After you pay your deductible, pet insurance will pay for a percentage of your vet bill that will depend on your policy. For example, if you have a policy with a 90% copay – this means the pet insurance company will pay for 90 percent of your bill. This can really help with unexpected costs. Some pet insurance companies offer basic care options to help you off-site the cost of spaying and neutering. Learn more about Pets Best here.

Additional Articles of Interest Related to Dog Neutering Costs

Dog Neutering and Spaying: What You Need to Know

Many dog owners have questions about dog neutering and spaying. First, let’s define the words Neuter and Spay. Neuter, from the Latin word neuter, means the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term neuter is often used incorrectly when it is used to refer to only male animals when the term neuter correctly refers to both males and females.

The correct term for the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ in males is “Castration” while the correct term used for females is “Spay” or “Spaying”. Other terms used to refer to neutering is “de-sexing” and “fixing”.

Neutering is used to reduce the risk of unwanted puppies to control the animal population issues, reduce behavior issues with intact pets such as roaming, humping, heat cycles, reduce the incidence of aggressive behavioral issues, and eliminate the risk of diseases such as infections of the uterus, referred to by the medical term pyometra, breast cancer, and/or prostate problems.

The Male Dog Neutering: Castration

Male neutering, known by the more accurate term “Castration”, is used to describe the surgical procedure that involves removal of the testicles. Castration is also known by the medical term “orchiectomy”. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia and involves a surgical incision just cranial to the testicles. Learn more about What Happens When You Neuter a Dog?. Another good article that may be of interest is What to Expect After Neutering a Dog which considers what to expect from your dog’s behavior post neuter as well as post-operative care.

The Female Dog Neutering: Spay

Female neutering, known by the more accurate term “Spaying”, is used to describe the surgical procedure that involves removal of both the ovaries and uterus, which is called an ovariohysterectomy (commonly abbreviated as “OHE”). This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. It involves an incision along the midline of the abdomen near the umbilicus. Learn more about What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed and about post-op care.

When Do You Neuter Dogs?

Neutering is most commonly recommended around six months of age. However, neutering is done in some situations as early as 6 to 8 weeks and can also be done at any age. Learn more about The Pros and Cons of Early Spays and Neuters In Dogs and Cats. Some studies may suggest that there are benefits of waiting to neuter. Learn more in this interesting article — To Neuter or Not to Neuter – What You Should Know.

However, the best time to neuter is when your dog is young and healthy as opposed to when your dog is older and has life-threatening uterine infections (Pyometra) or prostate problems.

How Pet Insurance Can Help Manage Cost of Dog Neutering

Dog neutering can be costly. It is more expensive to neuter a female dog than a male dog. The female neutering procedure takes longer and involves opening the abdominal cavity. The male dog neutering procedure does not involve opening the abdominal cavity and takes less time.

The cost for dog spays can range from $100 to $500 depending on the size and age of your dog. The cost for dog neuters can range from $45 to $350. Learn more about the costs of Spaying and Neutering with this article: How Much Does Dog Spaying or Dog Neutering Cost?

Many pet owners consider if they should have their pet neutered at their local veterinary hospital that may be more expensive vs. at a low-cost spay neuter clinic. Many shelters offer discounted spay and castration services. They will often also offer lost cost vaccinations and microchipping services that can be done at the time of the surgery. Here is another article that may be useful: Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Your Local Vet.

Pet insurance plans are another method that can help you pay for medical costs associated with illnesses and injuries as well as wellness costs such as for vaccinations, dental cleaning, blood work, fecal checks, parasite control, and spaying and castration surgery.

For example, Pet’s Best offers a “routine care” option that you can add to your pet insurance plan. One thing that’s nice about this is that the benefits are available from many companies with no waiting period, meaning you can often use the benefits within a day or two of enrollment. The best wellness plan will provide $100 toward your dog spay or neuter. Learn more about Pet’s Best Routine Care Options to see if they will help you pay for your dog’s neutering procedure.

If you are planning your dog’s spay-neuter procedure and need help paying, it is possible to sign up for the routine care options and start using the benefits soon.

Additional Articles that May Be of Interest About Dog Neutering

How Much Does Dog Spaying or Dog Neutering Cost?
What Happens When You Neuter a Dog?
What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed 
What to Expect After Neutering a Dog 
A Major Investment: The Costs Associated with Dog Ownership
Are Pet Wellness Plans More Affordable than Insurance?
Factors to Consider Before You Compare Pet Insurance Policies
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
How Much Should You Expect For Dog Vet Costs?
Is There Pet Insurance That Covers Pre-Existing Conditions?
Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Your Local Vet
Pet Insurance: What It Covers & What It Doesn’t
Preparing Your Dog For Surgery: What You Should Know
Pros and Cons of Spaying and Neutering in Dogs
To Neuter or Not to Neuter – What You Should Know
What Are the Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Your Pet?
What’s the Best Pet Insurance in Regards to Cost?

Does Pet Death or Euthanasia Teach Kids a Life Lesson? The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out

A client caught me off guard last week. While giving their dog a routine examination the owner said, “Doc, do you think it is good for kids to be there when a pet dies?” It can seem like an odd question but it’s one I’ve heard before. Today I want to talk about what effect this “life lesson” could really have on children.

Before I go any further, let me introduce myself for those of you that don’t know me. I’m the Irreverent Veterinarian and I give you my honest opinion of issues in the animal care world. Some might say that I’m honest to a fault. I speak my mind and I won’t sweet-talk you or sugarcoat the truth. I tell it like it is – to you, the drug companies, the pet product manufacturers, professional breeders and pet owners. Some of what I say can be controversial, but that doesn’t stop me—it can be hard to hear the truth.

So back to the topic – is it a good idea for kids to witness a pet die, either naturally or through euthanasia? Well, every situation is different and in my opinion, it really depends on the child. Even then, it can be a very traumatic lesson indeed.

For example, when I was just out of veterinary school one of my first duties was to euthanize a very old dog. The owner had a 3-year-old and insisted that her child be present during the procedure. I was hesitant but the parent knows best, right? The owner explained what was happening by telling the little girl that their dog was “going to sleep.” Two weeks later the client called me for help; her daughter was now crying and crying when it was bedtime because she didn’t want to “go to sleep” and never wake up. I felt so bad for the little girl and for her mother too.

In hindsight, it is clear that the little girl was too young to understand what was happening and should not have been present. In general, I think kids under the age of 12 can find death and euthanasia disturbing even if they understand the concept. (Some vets say 14 years is a better age.) This will depend on the child’s maturity level as well. No matter what age you decide is right, I think an honest and open discussion is the best approach. It’s best not to use words like “going to sleep”; even though it can be difficult to talk about a beloved pet’s death so frankly, unclear wording can confuse children.

What age do you think is appropriate to allow a child to witness euthanasia? I want to know what you think. Send us your comments @ timo@petplace.com.

My Final Thoughts on Whether Pet Death or Euthanasia Teaches Kids Life Lessons

I think that seeing all phases of life and death can help a child understand the world and prepare them for the future. The first time that they encounter death can be very upsetting, especially if it involves a pet that they love very much.

Does witnessing death, particularly euthanasia, help children? Depending on how it’s presented as well as their age and maturity, I think it can. I don’t think it should be the first time that they discuss or encounter death but it’s not a perfect world and things don’t always happen as we want.

I definitely don’t think that very young children should be in the room when an animal dies though. It’s just too upsetting for them and they often don’t really understand what’s happening. Some people think that kids can only understand death by seeing it happen but I totally disagree. If you believe that do you think all kids should be marched through prison so they can understand crime and punishment? It just doesn’t seem right.

Tell us your thoughts. Did you witness a pet’s death as a child or as a parent? Take our poll. If you have comments please leave them below in the article.

If you are struggling to find the best way to discuss euthanasia with your child, www.petplace.com has articles, which can help. We have been the #1 leader in pet health information for over 20 years now with over 11,000 articles.

Related Articles

Read other articles by the Irreverent Veterinarian

Disclaimer