Should You Neuter Your Akita? (Best Age, Benefits and Risks)

Should You Neuter Your Akita

Veterinarians generally recommend spaying female Akitas between 6 to 9 months. The aim is to prevent the the first heat cycle, reducing risks of certain cancers and reproductive issues.

Most veterinarians agree that the best age to neuter a male Akita is between 6 to 9 months. However, considering their large size and growth patterns, some suggest waiting until they are 12 to 18 months old.

Read on to learn the answers to the most common questions about neutering, before and after for your Akita, and more, including how to prepare for taking care of your pet post-surgery.

Recommended Age for Spaying Female Akitas

Most vets today recommend spaying female Akitas sometime between 6-12 months of age.

Akitas usually have their first heat between 6-9 months. Spaying at 6 months can prevent this first heat cycle.

Waiting until she’s 12-18 months old to spay has health benefits. It lets her hormones aid in developing bones, joints, and muscles.

Spaying before 6 months may raise health risks such as urinary incontinence.

Spaying prevents pyometra, a serious uterine infection common in older dogs but also possible after the first heat.

Delaying spaying increases the risk of mammary cancer and accidental pregnancy.

Ideal Age for Neutering Male Akitas

Most vets today advise neutering between 12-18 months of age.

Neutering male Akitas before 12 months can hinder bone and joint development due to reduced testosterone, which is crucial for their growth.

Delaying neutering past 18 months raises the risk of testicular cancer and prostate problems in Akitas.

Neutering Akitas at 6-9 months might reduce adolescent issues such as humping or wandering, but it also poses health risks due to limited hormone exposure.

Neutering male Akitas before they are fully grown can lead to joint problems such as CCL tears or hip dysplasia.

Neutering male Akitas at 12-18 months is ideal. It ensures enough testosterone exposure for healthy growth and still reduces the risk of testicular cancer.

If you choose not to neuter, be ready to handle typical behaviors of intact male Akitas, especially around other dogs.

Health Benefits of Spaying Female Akitas

Spaying your female Akita provides some significant health benefits.

Eliminates Risk of Pyometra

  • Pyometra, a serious bacterial infection of the uterus, is common in middle-aged to older unspayed Akitas. It can be life-threatening.
  • By removing the uterus, spaying completely prevents pyometra. This makes it a key health benefit for female Akitas.

Reduces Risk of Mammary Cancer

  • Unspayed female Akitas are at higher risk of mammary tumors or breast cancer later in life.
  • Spaying an Akita before her first heat cycle greatly reduces mammary cancer risk. Even later spaying offers some protection.

Avoids Messy Heat Cycles

  • Female Akitas usually experience their first heat cycle at 6-9 months and then every 6 months thereafter.
  • Heat cycles in female Akitas last 2-3 weeks, involving bleeding and behavioral changes. Spaying can prevent these seasonal cycles.

Prevents Accidental Pregnancies

  • Unspayed female Akitas risk unwanted pregnancies when exposed to unneutered males during their heat cycles, leading to more unintended puppies.
  • Spaying eliminates the risk of pregnancy and the associated health complications of whelping in female Akitas.

Reduces Certain Hormone-Related Disorders

Spaying lowers the risk of estrogen-related disorders in female Akitas, such as perianal tumors and ovarian cysts.

Benefits Seen in Neutered Male Akitas

Neutering provides some health and behavior benefits for male Akitas.

Nearly Eliminates Testicular Cancer Risk

  • While testicular cancer is rare in dogs, unneutered male Akitas face a higher risk as they age.
  • Neutering, which involves removing the testes, almost completely eliminates the risk of testicular cancer in male Akitas.

Reduces Prostate Problems

  • Unneutered male Akitas are more likely to develop prostate problems, such as infections, swelling, and neoplasia, as they get older.
  • Neutering doesn’t completely eliminate but significantly reduces, the risk of prostate disease in male Akitas.

Limits Roaming and Marking Behaviors

  • Due to male hormones, unneutered male dogs often roam, mark territory, and urine mark indoors.
  • Training helps, but neutering is more effective in reducing nuisance behaviors in male Akitas.

Curbs Other Male Behaviors

  • Intact male hormones often lead to behaviors like humping, mounting, and aggression in male dogs.
  • Neutering usually lessens these behaviors, but may not completely stop them in all dogs.

Avoids Unwanted Matings

  • Intact male Akitas often try to mate with unspayed females, which can result in unwanted litters.
  • Neutering stops mating behavior and prevents accidental breeding in male Akitas.

Cons to Neutering/Spaying Your Akitas

While spaying and neutering offer proven health benefits, there are some potential drawbacks to consider as well:

Increase in ACL Injuries

  • Studies indicate that neutering or spaying dogs before they mature can lead to more ACL injuries. Not neutering might reduce this risk.
  • It’s wise to wait until an Akita is mature to neuter or spay, though the risk is not definitively proven.

Possible Weight Gain

  • Neutered and spayed dogs tend to be more prone to weight gain, partly due to metabolic changes.
  • Managing weight gain in neutered or spayed Akitas requires a careful diet and regular exercise.

Urinary Incontinence in Spayed Females

  • Spaying females, particularly before 6 months, can raise the risk of urinary incontinence.
  • If urinary incontinence occurs, consult your vet for medication options.

Anesthesia and Surgery Risks

  • Anesthesia and surgery always carry some risks, such as reactions or complications.
  • Minimize surgical risks by choosing an experienced vet and monitoring your Akita after surgery.

Risks of Spaying/Neutering Your Akita Too Early

Neutering or spaying Akitas before 5-6 months may lead to joint disorders like hip dysplasia, CCL tears, and bone cancer later on.

Spaying female Akitas too early, particularly before 3 months, raises the risk of urinary incontinence due to urethral sphincter issues.

A study showed that large breed dogs, like Akitas, neutered before 12 months, have a 3-4 times higher risk of bone cancer. This is worrisome and warrants more research.

In large dogs like Akitas, growth plates close at 12-18 months. Removing sex hormones too early can disrupt musculoskeletal development.

Neutering or spaying dogs early often leads to increased weight gain and obesity, heightening the risk of other health issues.

If preventing the first heat cycle or reducing adolescent behaviors is a priority, consider spaying or neutering at 6 months. In this case, using joint supplements as a preventive measure can be beneficial.

Unless medically required, don’t opt for spay or neuter surgeries on Akitas before 5-6 months.

Things to Consider Before Surgery

Choose an Experienced Veterinarian

  • Choose a trusted, highly experienced vet for spay/neuter procedures, inquire about their background, and opt for a specialist if you have concerns.
  • Verify that the facility adheres to high standards in anesthesia, sterilization, and post-surgery monitoring to ensure quality care.

Consider Age & Health Status

  • Postpone spaying/neutering your Akita until they reach 12-18 months, unless it’s medically urgent, to lower risks.
  • Confirm your Akita’s health before surgery; conduct preoperative bloodwork as recommended by your vet to detect any issues, such as anemia.

Discuss Anesthesia Plan

  • Discuss with your vet the anesthesia and pain management plans for before, during, and after surgery, ensuring they include vital signs monitoring for your Akita.
  • Confirm that your vet uses IV fluids during surgery and tries to avoid anesthetic gas, as these practices are shown to improve outcomes.

Ask About Postoperative Care

  • Ensure you receive and understand detailed discharge instructions from your vet, including incision care, activity limits, and medications.
  • If not already provided, ask for an e-collar to stop your dog from licking the surgical site.

How to Care for Your Pets When They Come Home after Neutering/Spaying

After the successful surgery, you may be tempted to just return your pet to its regular routine and snuggle or even play with it when it comes home.

While you should still keep it on its regular diet, for a limited time frame, you’re going to have to limit its daily activities. During walks the dog must be kept leashed, and prevented from seeking further mates, for about 2 weeks.

Make sure that their incisions are kept dry, so prevent them from licking or chewing this area to prevent an infection. This can be greatly aided by an Elizabethan collar. Walks in the rain will be a no-no, of course.

Your pet will also have been given pain medication. Monitor their pain levels by observing their behavior. If it appears that your pet is still in pain, DO NOT give it more medication and instead, call the veterinarian immediately. This includes any complications that occur whatsoever (source: ASCPA.org)

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