Are there health benefits to spaying my older dog?

Dr Pete Wedderburn / 11 June 2018

A reader would like to know whether there are any health benefits to spaying a mature dog.


We had intended to breed from my dog but decided against it. Are there any health benefits to spaying her now that she is four years old?


The biggest health benefit from spaying is that if done before a bitch’s first season, it dramatically reduces the risk of the most common cancer in female dogs: the risk of mammary cancer is reduced by a factor of 200. At four years of age, this benefit will no longer apply: spaying now is too late to protect her.

However, the other big plus about spaying (at any age) is that it completely prevents a common womb infection called pyometra. This occurs in 23% of intact females, causing the death of 1% of unspayed animals. Furthermore, a large study showed that spayed female dogs lived for 26.3% longer than unspayed, and they were significantly less likely to die of infectious disease, trauma, vascular disease and degenerative disease.

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