Should I allow my dog to have a litter of puppies to satisfy her maternal instinct before spaying her?

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Puppies are typically spayed between the ages of four to six months, and it’s generally recommended that it be done before the dog’s first heat cycle.

There are two big problems with letting her have a litter before she’s spayed.

• Medical: Puppies recover a lot faster than adults. Not only is the surgery much easier for her then but it greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors. In fact, people who wait to spay their dogs until after their second heat greatly increase the risk of mammary tumors in their pets. Once they’ve had several heats, intact female dogs have a one out of four chance of developing mammary tumors—and those are the most common malignancies in female dogs. Spaying also completely eliminates uterine cancers and some other diseases.

In males, it eliminates testicular cancers or diseases and can lower the risk of prostate cancer. Generally, spayed and neutered pets live longer, happier lives.

• Overpopulation: You’ve instantly contributed to the pet this problem. An estimated five million to eight million animals are euthanized in shelters across this country every year.

Now you have to find homes for all those puppies. And for each home you find, there’s one less home for a dog that was already born. Also, you can’t be responsible for what the new owners do, so unless you spay or neuter all the puppies before placing them, the new owners may let their dog breed as well. Now you’ve added even more dogs to the pet overpopulation problem.

Shelter euthanasia is the number one killer of companion animals. Spaying and neutering is the only way to reduce or eliminate that.

• Financial: One city estimates that more than $15 million is spent annually dealing with stray and unwanted pets. Those are your tax dollars.

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