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Spay / Neuter

Chihuahua Spaying | Neutering

Chihuahua puppy hiding under blanket

What Exactly is Neutering? 

When a male Chihuahua is neutered, this will be a procedure in which their testicles are removed. The sac that holds the testicles will remain; the "insides" of the sac will be removed. There is usually swelling when this is first done, so a dog owner may not see much of a difference, as the sacs are swollen and still look full.

As time goes by, this swelling will decrease and just small areas of skin will remain at the base of the Chihuahua's penis. Your dog will be given anesthetics to sleep while this is done and stitches will be put on the area in which the cuts are made.

What is Spaying?

When you have your Chihuahua spayed to prevent any chances of pregnancy, this is equivalent to a female woman having a hysterectomy. In most cases, both the ovaries and uterus will be removed.

Some vets only remove the ovaries; though it is recommended to have both removed to prevent cancer.

Under anesthesia, a small incision will be made in the abdomen. The entire procedure takes between 20 to 40 minutes. Most dogs can leave the clinic the same day. 

Recommended Age to Have a Chihuahua Spayed

Some veterinarians recommend spaying before the first heat. There are many benefits to spaying early. 

When done before the first heat, it greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors. 

Studies have shown that if it is done after the 2nd cycle, the risk for tumors increases. If a female enters in and out of 4 seasons before the procedure, she will have a 1 in 4 chance of this type of cancer.

For this reason, the age to have a Chihuahua spayed is between 8 weeks old and 3 months. 
This breed may enter puberty anytime between the age of 4 months to 7 months; therefore the 3 month mark is a safe age.

Reasons for delaying this would be if the Chihuahua is undersized and struggling with weight issues. In those cases, one may want to put this on hold to give the puppy time to gain enough weight to be better able to handle the anesthesia and the operation as a whole. 

Recommended Age to Have a Chihuahua Neutered

The best age to neuter a Chihuahua is between the age of 8 weeks and 6 months. There are reasons for this. Limited studies have shown that neutering a male at a very young age (6 weeks old or earlier) has shown to cause the legs to develop slightly longer than normal and cause slightly less muscular development.

Additionally, some studies have shown that early neutering caused some issue with the joints; however it should be noted that this only affected large breed dogs and therefore this would not affect the Chihuahua at all.

Alternatively, it is believed that is an owner waits until a dog is passed the 6 month mark, behaviors are already established to such a degree that neutering a male may not bring about all of the benefits that one would normally expect.

For this reason, it is recommended to neuter a male Chihuahua during the 2 month to 6 month window. In this way, you are avoiding any possible concerns that are linked to very early age procedures while having it done before behavior patterns set in.

Spay Recovery

For female dogs in good health, without unforeseen complications, recovery is usually surprising fast. A female Chihuahua will recover in 7 to 10 days. During the fist 24 hours, the dog may be sleepy and/or have a reluctance to eat due to possible nausea caused by the anesthesia.

There may be slight swelling and some redness.

It will be important to keep the incision site clean and check it once a day for the first week. Sometimes absorbable and/or surgical glue is used to keep the incision closed. For others, skin stitches will be removed after 1 week. For all dogs, a checkup will be performed after 7 days.

If you see any redness or swelling around the stitches, this should be reported to your dog's veterinarian right away, as it may point to the beginning of an infection.

Neuter Recovery

A male Chihuahua will need 10 to 14 days for the skin sutures to heal. During this time, running and other exercise should be avoided. Slow to moderate walking on leash can be done. In addition, the dog should not be given a bath since the area should remain dry to prevent bacterial infection. After this 10 to 14 day period, the stitches will be removed by the veterinarian.

While some dogs show signs of pain and discomfort, many do extremely well and show very little signs of discomfort. The veterinarian may send an owner home with prescribed pain medication or may ask the owner to call in if there appears to be a need.

Pros of Neutering

There are good and valid reasons to neuter a male dog. Some people feel that it is wrong to take away a dog's reproductive urges. However, dogs do not mate for reasons of pleasure. Mating is a pure canine instinct and very often leads to unplanned puppies that may be difficult to take care of. Other important advantages are:
  • Decreased aggression
  • Decreased roaming tendencies
  • Increased concentration - Studies have shown that fixed dogs have a longer attention span (applicable for house and command training and continued obedience throughout the dog's life) due to not being constantly distracted by pheromone stimuli
  • Eliminates hernias
  • Reduced risk of perianla tumors (tumors stimulated by testosterone that develop around the anus)
  • Fewer prostrate issues - 80% of unneutered male dogs develop prostate issues including enlargement, cysts and infections

Pros of Spaying

There are excellent reasons to have your female Chihuahua spayed; the most important being the prevention of cancer. The reasons to spay a Chihuahua are:
  • Eliminates the chance of ovarian cancer
  • Decreases the risk of mammary tumors particularly if done before the 1st heat
  • It stops the heat cycle from occurring - which involves mood swings, possible discomfort, discharge, increased shedding and of course, being receptive to males and able to become pregnant.
  • Eliminates the possibility of pregnancy - which for the Chihuahua breed can be risky. This is due to increased risk of needing a C-section. Also, hypocalcamia and eclampsia are two dangerous pregnancy related issues.
white female Chihuahua puppy with hat

Risks of Spaying and Neutering

Most veterinarians agree that the benefits outweigh the risks. However, there are some possible risks that every owner needs to consider:

Known Risks

• Urinary incontinence for females. There is a known increased rate of urinary incontinence (weak bladder) with spayed females. Of female dogs that are spayed, approximately 20% will develop incontinence sometime during their lifetimes. Incontinence can develop shortly after the procedure or many years later. Many vets suggest that waiting until the age of 3 months will cut down on the chance of later developing this. 

Possible Risks - For these listed possible risks, many veterinary experts admit that there is not enough supporting research to conclude if any of these risks are valid. 

• Cardiac tumors. There is much debate on this topic. At the time of this writing, essentially just 1 study (by Ware and Hopper - Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, March/April 1999) concluded that spaying and neutering increased the risk of cardiac tumors; 4 times greater for females and only slighter greater for males. 

• Increased rate of other cancers. Again, there is much debate about this. Some studies show that spaying and neutering prevent cancers. Others studies show it increases the risk. Specifically, some studies have concluded that spay/neutering increases: Osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer), bladder and prostate cancer (a 2002 study showed prostate cancer was 4 times more likely to develop with neutered males; a 2007 study showed both were 3 to 4 times more likely) and lymphoma (studies show a very slight risk of increase for spayed females).

• Delay in growth-plate closure. This refers to growth plates closing later than normal, leading to possible increase of bone fractures. It may also lead to a dog growing a bit larger than he/she would otherwise. Just as many vets agree than those that disagree. It is generally accepted that growth plates may close a bit later (12 to 18 months later), though this equals a difference of just millimeters seen on x-rays. 

Myths about Spaying and Neutering 

1) Neutering a dog will automatically make him depressed, lose strength or decrease his activity level. This is a myth.

Studies have shown that male dogs do not act out any mating behavior unless they are moved by their own hormones in reaction to a female dog that is in heat. When neutered, it does not trouble a dog that he cannot mate as the urge is gone. A male dog will behave normally in all regards of activity and in having endurance to exercise. 

2) A dog will automatically become overweight and/or lazy. This is a myth. When given the appropriate amount of food and exercised properly, dogs will not have any noticeable changes in weight or activity. 

How Much it Costs to Have a Chihuahua Spayed or Neutered

The prices will vary; however spaying is more expensive than neutering because it is a much more complicated surgery. There are many clinics that will offer payment plans or low cost plans since reputable veterinarians understand the important health reasons to have this done. Through the ASPCA, low cost programs may be accessible.

Neutering a Chihuahua can range from $40 to $75 USD via a reduced rate program and up to $150 without.

Spaying a female Chihuahua can range from $50 to $100 USD via a reduced cost program and up to $200 without.

Reader Q&A

Question: I have a female Chihuahua puppy, 8 months old and 4.25 lbs. My veterinarian suggested waiting to spay her until she is a year old. He said she might go into heat, but he would rather wait until later. 

What should I do? Everything I read says she should be spayed before she goes into heat. Owner: Kim, Chihuahua: Mo

Answer: Hi Kim. You are absolutely correct that your dog should be spayed before her first heat cycle unless she has health issues or is underweight. At 4.25 lbs and 8 months old, she is in the normal, expected weight range.

The veterinary medical field advances at a rapid pace and the newest advice from all top veterinary experts is to spay before the first heat. 

Your dog's veterinarian may be "old school" in his thinking that he should wait until the 1 year mark. 
As you most likely already know, spaying a female dog greatly reduces the chances of mammary cancer and eliminates chances of developing ovarian and uterine cancer. Spaying before the 1st heat reduces those odds even more.
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