The word spaying means removing female reproductive organs
- uterine horns.
A spayed (neutered) dog cannot produce sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and therefore lacks the ability to reproduce. This procedure may seem a good decision for owners who’d like to prevent unattended offspring, but it also has a few points, which makes spaying a double edged sword.
On the one hand, spaying is a good way to control canine population. Although there is no doubt that there are few Shih Tzu dogs in the world that loiter on the streets who make dozens of puppies which grow into bloodthirsty monsters and attack pedestrians, even so birth control is still important because any owner shouldn’t get more puppies than he or she can adequately keep.
Moreover, from now and again intact bitches roam persistently to obtain the desired and mark territory. Male dogs can smell and hear a bitch in heat from long distances and stampede to her no matter what the cost. Spaying cuts short this behavior.
Furthermore, a bitch in heat has a bloody discharge from vulva which can stain everything in the house. Neutered dogs cannot go into heat.
Besides, spaying female dogs reduces risk of
- mammary (breast) tumors;
- perianal fistulas;
- uterus cancer;
- ovaries cancer.
and practically eliminates risk of pyometra (uterine infection), which affects 23% and kills 1% of unspayed bitches.
On the other hand, spaying increases other health problems. In general, it increases risks of:
- hemangiosarcoma (cancer of blood vessel wall tissue), including cardiac hemangiosarcoma – looks like sex hormones somehow protect heart and spleen from this type cancer, according to statistical studies;
- hypothyroidism – hormonal disbalance upsets endocrine system, resulting in low thyroid levels, which leads to hair loss and obesity, but can be treated symptomatically;
- urinary incontinence – if removed from an organism estrogen cannot manage leakages by strengthening bladder musculature;
- urinary tract infections, recessed vulva, vaginitis and vaginal dermatitis – spayed dogs’ abnormal vulvas have skin folds trapping bacteria;
- obesity – spaying changes endocrine profile and, consequently, inhibits metabolism. If an owner keeps the dog’s diet and the exercise schedule the same as before neutering, it may lead to excessive weight gain;
- osteosarcoma (bone cancer);
- urinary tract tumors;
- orthopedic disorders;
- adverse reactions to vaccinations;
- abnormal bone growth;
- hip dysplasia.
If removed untimely, reproductive hormones can’t play their important role in developing internal organs, bones and joints, which is related to the following problems too.
Besides, it’s not inconceivable that your dog will be crippled because of the surgery. The wounds sometimes don’t heal properly, getting infected and short-faced dogs like Shih Tzu are risky to anesthesia. Chances are that your dog will never recover from this surgery.
As spaying is not free of charge, spaying will cost more anyway.
It has been scientifically proved that together with an urge to roam and mark territory, you dog will never lose the personalities you like, e.g. playfulness and friendliness. The thing is that a dog, as an irrational being is unable to miss and feel sorry for the loss of an entity idolized by human culture and psychology, such as the ability to reproduce and/or have sex.
Some specialist claim, obesity also has nothing to do with neutering though it is questionable.
All in all, veterinarians take a positive view on spaying female dogs. It’s been concluded that number of health benefits exceed problems, but all dogs are different, so their advice on whether you should spay your particular Shih Tzu is the following: It depends on her age, size and health condition. In general, it’s preferable to neuter a bitch after 6 month of age, but before the first heat – it decreases dramatically some of the abovementioned health risks, such as
- hip dysplasia;
- urinary incontinence;
- orthopedic disorders.
In sum, if a dog is spayed after puberty but before the first heat, the spaying surgery improves the odds of overall good health.