Did you recently adopt an adorable female dog? Finding out she hasn’t been spayed can be concerning. Now the decision falls on you whether your pup will undergo the reproductive procedure. You might have heard that spaying can reduce a dog’s rate of shedding, which could undoubtedly incentivize you to spay your pup.
But do spayed dogs really shed less than their un-spayed counterparts?
There doesn’t appear to be any correlation between spaying a dog and reducing her rate of shedding. However, some dogs get especially excited when in heat, which may cause them to shed more. This rate of shedding could lessen after spaying, but seasonal shedding and year-round shedding likely would not.
I’ll explain spaying and its relationship to shedding in today’s post so you know what to expect. I’ll also discuss other reasons to spay your dog, so make sure you keep reading!
Does a Spayed Dog Shed Less?
Spaying is a medical procedure for female pets that prevents the animal from reproducing.
The surgeon usually performs what’s known as an ovariohysterectomy. During an ovariohysterectomy, the dog’s uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries are taken out. As a result, the dog’s heat cycle will stop, and her ability to reproduce will cease.
Some pet owners request that their dogs receive an ovariectomy instead, in which only the ovaries are removed. During a hysterectomy, the dog loses her fallopian tubes and uterus. However, since her ovaries are intact, any hormonal changes associated with your dog being in heat will continue.
When talking about spaying your dog moving forward, I’ll be referring to an ovariohysterectomy, which is the most complete procedure of its kind.
If you decide to spay your dog, will she shed less?
More than likely, no. This is something we’ve talked about on the blog before, here. And in short, it does not appear as though dogs shed more or less as a result of spaying.
That said, reproductive surgery can have short-term effects on a dog’s shedding.
And there are exceptions, such as if your dog’s shedding is hormonally driven like from estrus. Estrus is the technical name for a dog’s heat cycle. During estrus, your dog is receptive to advances from males to reproduce.
You might notice that your dog’s vulva is engorged, that she releases some bloody discharge (that loses its color as the cycle continues), and that she urinates a lot. This is likely because when your dog pees, she’s trying to mark territory to attract male dogs.
Most dogs will go through heat cycles at least twice a year, but it depends on the dog’s size. Bigger dog breeds have estrus cycles roughly annually, while smaller dogs can have up to three heat cycles in a year.
Estrus can be a stressful time on a dog’s body. In some dogs, all the hormonal changes can cause them to shed more than usual.
By spaying your dog (meaning an ovariohysterectomy), her hormonal behavior will stop, which means so too would her excess shedding from estrus. And worth noting is that a hysterectomy alone would not alleviate estrus-driven shedding.
Why Is My Spayed Dog Shedding More? When Will It Stop?
When pet owners decide to spay their dog, in some instances, they may notice that she sheds more than she did before the procedure.
Is this just a coincidence, or does spaying increase a dog’s rate of shedding?
Indeed, spaying (and neutering) can cause your dog to shed more.
This is because hormones such as testosterone develop strong, healthy hair follicles in dogs. Although testosterone is known as a male hormone, female dogs have it too (as do female humans).
And since reproductive surgery such as spaying and neutering interrupts a dog’s hormones, this can impact their rate of shedding. Not to mention, as explained in this article, a visit to the vet can be stressful to dogs, and stress can cause an increase in shedding.
How long should you expect your spayed dog to shed? That depends on her hormones. In some instances, dog owners report that the heavy shedding abates after a couple of weeks. But it’s not unheard of for the issue to persist for months as well.
That said, if you’re concerned about your dog’s shedding and it’s been months and months since her surgery, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. A quick checkup can quell your concerns.
If there is something wrong with your dog, your vet can quickly find the issue.
How Can I Reliably Reduce Shedding in My Dog?
Okay, so if spaying your dog won’t help, how can you control her shedding?
Well, first, you have to understand the root cause of why she’s shedding so much.
Here is a list of factors that cause dogs to shed:
- Seasonal changes (especially for double-coated dogs)
- Dietary deficiencies or unhealthy diet
- Undiagnosed allergies
- Dry skin, either from a medical condition or bathing too often
- Lack of regular brushing
- Stress and anxiety
- Coat length and texture
Sure, you can’t help whether she’s single-coated or double-coated, nor what your dog’s hair cycle is like or her fur texture, but there’s a lot more you can change.
First, it’s time to evaluate your dog’s diet. Is she getting proper nutrition, or is her food full of preservatives? Upgrading your dog’s diet to products with fresher ingredients can make a huge difference in how much she sheds.
Supplementing her diet–such as with omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, or coconut oil–can also help. That all being said, I’d recommend you talk to your vet before starting your dog on a new diet.
It’s not a bad idea to get your dog to the vet anyway to double-check that she doesn’t have food allergies. Besides being a source of empty calories and no nutrition, preservatives can also trigger allergies in some canines.
That’s not all dogs can be allergic to. Fresh ingredients like fish, rabbit, pork, lamb, chicken, and beef can lead to allergies, as can pollen.
If you’re an allergy sufferer, then you know how itchy and scratchy you get as allergy season ramps up. Your dog feels that, too, so she scratches herself nonstop. As her dead skin comes out, so too does hair, which increases shedding.
The next big area to pay attention to is grooming your dog. It doesn’t matter the breed; all dogs require some grooming and maintenance.
Since she’s shedding heavily, it’s not a bad idea to brush your pup daily or every other day. Here is a post that showcases some of the dog brushes I recommend the most for keeping your canine looking her best.
Brushing your dog collects dead fur before it can land all over your clothes and carpeting. You’re also spreading natural skin oils, which can prevent excess dryness that too contributes to shedding.
Speaking of dry skin, you should only bathe your dog about once a month unless she’s filthy. Use dog shampoo and conditioner, not hair care products from your own shower caddy.
If your dog is still shedding a lot even after implementing the above measures, I’d recommend you take her back to the vet. It could be that your dog has an underlying health condition that’s making her shed so much.
Should I Spay My Dog?
At the end of the day, whether or not you decide to spay your dog is a choice only you can make, and it’s best to speak to a qualified veterinarian before making any decisions.
When it comes to shedding, spaying isn’t likely to reduce the amount of hair you find floating around your home. However, that doesn’t mean the procedure is a bad idea. So let’s discuss some of the benefits of spaying your pup.
Her Behavior Will Likely Improve
When a dog is in heat, her behavior can take a sudden turn.
For example, she might act more aggressively, and she can try humping anything in sight (including people). In short, she’s just not her cuddly, loveable self lately.
An ovariohysterectomy can correct hormonally-driven behavioral issues in your dog. I must stress, though, that if your dog’s aggression or other misbehaviors stem from different reasons, such as lack of training, then spaying won’t help.
No Unexpected Surprises
Do you have a contingency plan for your dog should she become pregnant? If you answered no and you haven’t spayed her, you should strongly consider it.
An un-spayed dog can become pregnant when in estrus. The average size of a dog litter is between one and 12 puppies. Five or six puppies are the norm, but even that’s a lot.
You’ll either have to commit to raising the puppies on your own or find someone who wants to take them. If you do keep the dogs, think of all the vet bills that will come your way once the puppies need their vaccinations!
Not only that, but you have to multiply the amount of money you spend on dog treats, food, toys, beds, etc., by six. All of this can quickly add up.
She Might Live Longer
According to the ASPCA, a spayed dog is less likely to develop breast tumors and uterine infections, although the former is malignant in dogs about half the time. Either way, it’s generally agreed that a healthier dog can have a longer life.
From a shedding point of view, spaying a dog–or removing her ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus–is not likely to decrease shedding.
In fact, you may notice a higher rate of shedding from your dog immediately after the surgery and in the months to come. However, if you want to control your dog’s shedding post-spay and any other time, feed her a healthy diet, reduce her stress and anxiety, and groom her regularly.
Whatever you decide, I hope you found this post helpful. And remember, it’s always best to speak with your vet before making any decisions.
I’ve given you some general information about shedding and spaying, but your vet is the best person to speak with. Because not only are they qualified professionals, but a vet will take your dog’s individual needs into consideration.