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Neutering or spaying your bichon frise is a responsible part of being a pet owner. Most veterinarians will recommend that you take your puppy through the procedure at the appropriate age. That is not only because it is the right thing to do in most cases, but also because of the additional benefits of neutering and spaying a pet.
Still in many Northern European countries, bichon frises and other dogs are kept intact, as it is seen as healthier. So, is neutering or spaying your bichon frise the right choice for you?
What Are Neutering and Spaying?
Put simply, neutering and spaying refer to procedures that sterilize a pet and prevent unwanted breeding.
Neutering is the name used for the procedure for sterilizing a male, and spaying refers to the same process in a female. The term neutering actually refers to both genders, with castration being the correct term for male dog sterilization. It has become standard practice to sterilize one’s pets to prevent overpopulation.
When a female dog is ‘spayed’, her primary reproductive organs are surgically removed. That includes her uterus and ovaries. The male equivalent is called neutering and is a less invasive procedure than spaying. When a male dog is neutered, the testicles are removed via a minor incision. A neutered dog is sterile and no longer has an active libido.
Neutering a Male Bichon Frise
Before the operation, the vet will first thoroughly inspect your bichon. They need to make sure that the dog is in good health, and that there are no issues that could cause potential complications. Your dog needs to be of the correct age, size, and weight for its breed. Both of your dog’s testicles must be descended before they can undergo the procedure.
After your vet has done these physical checks, they will run a couple of tests. The vet will do blood tests on either the day of the procedure or a couple of days earlier. Blood tests help the vet determine whether your dog’s liver and kidneys are in good health. The liver and kidneys play a vital role during anesthesia.
You will have to fast your dog for a period before the procedure, as per your vet’s instructions. An empty tummy prevents vomiting, which can be dangerous under anesthesia. You should also exercise your dog beforehand to try and get them to empty their bladder.
During the admission process, you will see a veterinary nurse. You will have to sign a consent form and provide all of your contact information. When your dog is admitted, the veterinary nurse will weigh them again, this time to calculate the appropriate dose of anesthesia. They will also administer a physical exam that includes checking your dog’s heart rate.
If all is well, the procedure can get underway and the vet will administer the anesthesia.
The area in front of the scrotum, where the incision will happen, gets shaved and cleaned thoroughly.
Both testicles are removed. The vet makes an incision in front of the scrotum and carefully cuts through the protective tissue layers surrounding the testicles. The spermatic cord, which transports sperm from the testicles is carefully tied before it is severed. Thereafter the area is stitched up and the procedure is complete.
Spaying a Female Bichon Frise
The steps leading up to the surgery are exactly the same as those for male dogs that are neutered. There will be a number of tests to make sure your dog is in good health, the vet will ask you to fast your dog for a certain amount of time prior, and the operation will start the same.
The anesthesia is administered, usually via a vein in the front leg, and the vet sets up a continuous supply of anesthetic gas to keep the dog under.
The most common way to spay a female dog is called ovario-hytsterectemy. In this procedure the vet removes the ovaries and the uterus.
The operation starts with an incision into the abdomen. The vet locates the ovaries and ties off the arteries that connect them to the circulatory system. The ovaries are cut free and removed. With the ovaries removed, the vet turns their attention to the uterus, which is tied off and removed.
Throughout this process, the vet has to be very careful not to nip an artery. If they do, they must stop the bleeding before closing the layers of tissue with surgical stitches.
The vet will keep an eye on the dog until she is awake.
How Much Do Neutering and Spaying Cost and Who Can Do It?
There are a couple of factors that impact just how much it will cost to spay or neuter your dog. The biggest factor is gender. It is more expensive to spay a female than to neuter a male.
The Cost of Spaying a Female Bichon Frise
Spaying a female dog will usually cost between $50 and $500, so pet insurance that can help foot the bill will help. That makes sense, as we have seen the operation to spay a female is more involved and invasive than the procedure to neuter a male. However, there are a couple of additional factors that influence the final cost.
The size of your dog will influence the cost. That is because an overweight dog requires more anesthesia than a small dog. A small dog like a bichon frise may cost between $35 and $400.
Where you take your dog to be spayed also affects the cost. You will find that the better equipped and staffed a private veterinary hospital is, the more they will charge. On the other hand, the ASPCA runs programs to help subsidize the cost of neutering or spaying dogs, but these programs usually are only available in major cities.
The Cost of Neutering a Male Bichon Frise
Neutering a male bichon frise costs a lot less than spaying a female. Depending on your dog’s age and health, it costs between $50 and $300. If there are any complications during the procedure you will be liable to cover those expenses as well.
Private veterinary hospitals usually cost more than a vet’s office. Given the comparative simplicity of the procedure, most vets are happy to do it at their office.
You can take advantage of discounted packages, just be sure to ask the vet what they include, and what the potential extra costs could be.
Private Veterinary Hospitals
Most private veterinary hospitals will charge upward of $300 to spay your bichon frise. It is a lot of money, but the operation pays for itself. Consider the costs of caring for a pregnant dog, then caring for a litter of puppies. Then there are all of their vet bills, and the cost of housing and feeding them indefinitely.
If a private veterinary hospital is the only option you have access to, but you can’t afford the expenses, speak to your vet. They might offer you a payment plan or a small reduction in the price. You should also discuss the possibility of additional costs with your vet.
If there are health concerns that could make the operation more difficult and riskier, there will undoubtedly be extra costs involved. Sometimes things can go wrong during a serious invasive surgery, and if the worst happens, you will still have to pay all of the veterinary expenses.
The consent form that you sign prior to the operation almost always includes a clause covering the vet and the hospital in case there are serious complications leading to a dog’s death.
On the off chance that this happens to you, the real kick in the teeth is that you will still have to pay for every expense the hospital incurred. That includes the costs of the operation and the costs of any attempts to save your dog.
Some vets run a ‘special’ on things like sterilization and other procedures that they know most pet parents need for their pets. These options can be a big help when your dog is in good health and there is little chance of anything going wrong.
The way that these low-cost options usually work is that the vet will only account for the most vital components of the surgery. They will use the least expensive options in anesthesia, calculate the minimum that your dog will need, and work with that.
None of this is intentionally meant to run a dodgy ‘sale’ on sterilization. It’s simply the only way that many veterinary hospitals and the vets working with them can try to accommodate people who can’t afford the normal procedures.
You need to ask about the services included before you jump at a deal that seems incredibly inexpensive. In addition to cutting corners where possible, vets usually exclude the pre– and post-operation checks and tests from these packages.
3 Benefits of Getting Your Bichon Frise Neutered (Spayed)
Neutering or spaying your bichon frise has a number of benefits. Some of the pros attributed to sterilization are arguably more opinion than fact but on the whole, most experienced bichon frise owners will recommend the procedure.
1. Health Benefits
There are a number of health benefits attributed to neutering a bichon frise. The way it impacts hormonal development helps reduce the risk of certain cancers and uterine infections.
For example, female bichon frises are less likely to get breast cancer when spayed. Naturally, a dog that no longer has their reproductive organs can’t suffer from cancers affecting these organs. As a result, the odds that your bichon frise will live a longer, healthier life are greatly improved.
Many scientific studies have found a correlation between the longevity of a dog and their ability to reproduce. With female dogs, the reason is rather straightforward. Pregnancy takes a toll on the body.
Every pregnancy a bichon frise has effectively decreases her expected lifespan thanks to the strain on her body. She faces the physical strain of carrying and birthing the pups. In addition, her body must also sacrifice resources for the benefit of the puppies.
Males also enjoy a longer life when they are castrated. The effects are not as dramatic, but a combination of hormonal and behavioral changes make a difference to their average lifespan.
2. Behavioral Benefits
Improved behavior is the most obvious side effect of castrating a dog. Male dogs will be much less territorial. They should stop obsessively marking their territory, and they will be more relaxed about other animals entering their space.
Likewise, female dogs will be less aggressive and owners will not have to deal with the sometimes unpleasant issues that come with having a female on heat. Both genders are more placid after neutering, which makes it a potentially life-saving option for dogs that are prone to severe aggression.
3. Dog Welfare
Bichons frises are not as likely to end up in a shelter as many other breeds are, but it does happen. And it can also happen with mixed breeds. We know that certain mixes are very popular, but those that are sought after are the offspring of two purebred parent breeds. A bichon frise that accidentally mates with another dog is at risk of delivering puppies that can be hard to home.
By neutering or spaying your dog, you ensure that your dog doesn’t add to the problem with an accidental litter of puppies. It is all the more crucial if you know that you won’t be able to accommodate a litter of pups.
3 Drawbacks of Getting Your Bichon Frise Neutered (Spayed)
While there are a lot of health benefits to castrating your dog, there are a couple of less advertised, less understood health risks:
- When a male dog is neutered before he reaches adulthood he will be at a significantly higher risk of bone cancer. However, the study that found this does not look at bichon frise specifically, so it might not apply.
- Increases the risk of cardiac hemangiosarcoma by a factor of 1.6 for males and 2.2 for females. Cardiac hemangiosarcoma is a type of blood vessel cancer.
- Triples the risk of hypothyroidism in both males and female dogs.
- Spayed and neutered dogs are often more at risk of issues such as being overweight, developing diabetes, and having other hormonal issues.
There is evidence to suggest a lot more negative side effects, but many of these effects require further study, particularly in how they apply to different breeds. Examples include:
- Castration increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations
- Spaying increases the risk of obesity by a factor of 1.6 to 2
- Neutering might actually increase the risk of persistent or recurring urinary tract infections by a factor of 3 to 4
At What Age Should You Get Your Bichon Frise Neutered (Spayed)?
There are many conflicting opinions regarding the right age for getting your bichon frise neutered.
Some vets recommend doing the procedure as early as four months old. Recent research suggests that there are a number of risks associated with neutering your dog before the age of one. However, the consensus among most professionals is during the ages of six and nine months, when a bichon reaches sexual maturity.
Can You Get an Older Dog Neutered (Spayed)?
You can neuter a dog at any age. The only factor that can present a risk is their general health. A dog with serious health issues, particularly relating to its liver or kidneys will likely be unfit to undergo the procedure.
How Long Does It Take a Bichon Frise to Recover After Neutering (Spaying)?
Your bichon will need a minimum of two weeks to recover. However, depending on their age and general health the healing process can take much longer.
People often think that males should recover quicker than females because of the simpler procedure they undergo. That is not strictly true, and a male dog can take just as long to fully recover as a female does.
How to Help Your Bichon Frise Recover Faster
The most important thing to do is keep the wound clean and dry. If you suspect infection you should contact your vet immediately.
It’s also important that you limit your dog’s activity. They should remain as stationary as possible. They should also be kept away from other pets. Ideally, you will keep your bichon frise isolated in a dedicated ‘recovery’ room for much of the healing process.
Furthermore, you will need to monitor and manage their pain levels.
The vet will provide you with the instructions you will need to follow.
Neutering or spaying your bichon frise means having their primary reproductive organs removed. Spaying a female dog is a more complex procedure that also costs more than castrating a male dog. There are a number of benefits associated with neutering your bichon, including a potentially longer lifespan and an improved temperament.
Your bichon frise will need at least two weeks to recover. During this time they need to be isolated from other pets and will require extra care and attention.