Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. It is wonderful to see that you are a responsible dog owner. Although no surgery–on a dog or a human–is entirely without risk, most dogs do just fine with being spayed and Penny should, too.

How to Identify Common Pet Problems ?

Our sources include academic articles, blog posts, and personal essays from experienced pet care professionals :

Owned female dogs should be spayed before they are 5 months old. Owned small, medium and large breed male dogs should be neutered before they are 5 months old. Owned giant breed male dogs who are house pets should be neutered after growth stops, between 12 to 15 months of age due to orthopedic concerns.
Female dogs that aren`t spayed can also get mammary tumors. About 50 percent of these mammary tumors are malignant and spread to the lungs. Spaying a dog before her first heat cycle decreases her chances of developing mammary tumors to almost 0 percent.
It`s generally recommended to spay puppies between the ages of 4 to 6 months, says the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). By that age a female puppy`s sex organs are fully developed but she hasn`t yet experienced her first heat cycle, during which she could become pregnant.
On average dogs who are spayed or neutered live one and a half years longer than those who are not. Typically, dogs who are not fixed live to be about 8 years of age, where fixed dogs average about nine and a half years.
Recovery After Spaying Surgery

Most pets will start to feel better in 24 – 48 hours, but full recovery takes between 10 to 14 days. During this period you should aim to keep your pet calm and refrain from allowing them to jump, as this could cause the incision to reopen.

Neutering keeps your dog healthier. A final positive aspect of neutering your dog is that neutered pets tend to have fewer health problems. Neutering is the removal of the testicles. Without these organs, testicular cancer is no longer a concern and the risk of prostate problems is reduced.
During surgical sterilization, a veterinarian removes certain reproductive organs. Ovariohysterectomy, or the typical “spay”: the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus are removed from a female dog or cat. This makes her unable to reproduce and eliminates her heat cycle and breeding instinct-related behavior.
Stopping testosterone production at a young age can mean an increased risk of hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as a higher likelihood your dog will tear a cruciate ligament in his knee.
The recommended time to spay or neuter a dog is six to nine months. But if your dog is healthy, there is no specific age limit to having the procedure done.
Dogs can also be spayed while they are in heat. However, this does often lengthen the duration of the surgery, so your dog may be under anesthesia for a little longer, which can increase the risk of complications.
Even though there won`t be a change in your pet`s energy level, the act of having a vet spay or neuter your pet will eliminate or reduce those behaviors that are attributed to their hormones. This includes heat cycles and the associated behaviors in female dogs.
You may notice that after surgery your pet isn`t her usual self. After the procedure, it`s normal for animals to have low energy and feel lethargic. The procedure can make dogs calmer, but many dogs will bounce right back to usual personalities after recovery.
Hormones play a large role in your dog`s emotional state, and when surgical procedures disrupt your pet`s hormone levels, depression often follows. Dogs who`ve been spayed or neutered are the most likely to suffer hormonally triggered depression, thanks to the removal of their reproductive organs.
During the surgery your dog will be unconscious and not feel any pain. Once your dog wakes up further medication will be provided by your vet, as required. Veterinarians administer pain medications to your dog via an injection. This long-term pain medication should last for about 12-24 hours after surgery is complete.
After all, sterilization is not required to achieve normal population levels. In fact, in Europe, for example, where spaying and neutering isn`t common, there is no dog overpopulation problem (and, incidentally, a much reduced incidence of canine obesity compared to US dogs).
Neutering is a reasonably safe process; however, you can expect sharp changes in your dog`s attitude right when you bring them home from the procedure. These side effects can range from increased aggression, depression, anxiety, or even clinginess; however, they only last for a short amount of time.
Female dogs tend to be easier to housebreak, easier to train, and more connected with their owners—but in certain circumstances they can be more demanding of attention. Aggression can be a problem in any dog of any breed, however it is usually more apparent in non-neutered males.
The hormonal factor

The loss of sex hormones when a dog`s ovaries or testicles are removed causes a decrease in metabolic rate. That means calories are not burned as quickly, so fewer calories are needed for the dog to maintain its weight.

Spay Complication Rates

A study of five Canadian veterinary private practitioners found total complication rates of 22% for spaying female dogs.

We know that spaying before the first heat cycle reduces the incidence of mammary cancer by 99.5% while spaying after the first heat cycle but before the second decreases the incidence by 92%. Spaying after the second heat cycle decreases the incidence rate by 74%.
Female dogs should be spayed between 6-12 months of age. We consider her size, breed and any known family history of disease to determine the best time, as well as the risk of unwanted pregnancy. Generally small dogs should be spayed around 6 months of age, large dogs maybe a little older.
Similar to the start time, the exact frequency of estrus depends on your dog`s size, breed, and age. Female dogs who have not been spayed go into heat twice a year, around every 6 months. Each heat cycle lasts around 18 days, for generally anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks.
Most dogs come into heat twice per year, although the interval can vary between breeds and from dog to dog. Small breed dogs may cycle three times per year, while giant breed dogs may only cycle once per year. When young dogs first begin to cycle, it is normal for their cycles to be somewhat irregular.
Dogs in heat tend to bleed for approximately a week to 10 days. Some dogs bleed very heavily and others so lightly that it`s barely noticeable.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Q. How do I determine how much my overweight pet should weigh?
ANSWER : A. There are many tools to determine overweight and obesity levels in pets. A new tool, morphometric measurements and body fat index, are available to accurately determine a pet’s ideal weight; this will allow an accurate determination of the amount of food a pet should receive to achieve weight loss. Feeding the correct amount will lead to greater weight loss success.

There are many weight loss food options to help pets reach their ideal weight. Your veterinarian can help make a ideal weight recommendation. Here are some tips to help your dog lose weight in a healthy and safe way:

1. Diet: Providing a healthy and well balanced diet is essential to your pet’s overall health. Finding the right food for your dog can be a challenging process. For those overweight animals many commercial dog companies offer weight loss diets, but it is important to evaluate food labels for adequate nutritional content.

You want to ensure you are not missing other essential vitamin or mineral content. Volume of food is also important and the amount of food that works for one breed of dog may not be the same for another breed of dog. Portion control as opposed to free-choice feeding can help your dog to drop a few unnecessary pounds.

There are also prescription weight loss foods designed by veterinary nutritionists, such as Hill’s r/d (http://bit.ly/1AoENSd). Some pet owners find that home cooking is the best option for helping to provide a well-balanced and realistic diet plan. There are websites such as balanceit.com that offers recipes to fit your dog’s specific needs. Consulting with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to find the appropriate diet is a great way to help your dog be as healthy as possible.

2. Exercise: Another great tactic for weight loss for your dog is exercise. Whether this is through running, walking or playing with a favorite toy all of these are wonderful types of exercise to help keep your dog at a lean and healthy weight.

For those pet owners with busy schedules utilizing professional dog walking services or playtime through dog daycare services is another option. It has been shown that those pet owners that exercise regularly with their pets generally live a healthier lifestyle.

3. Physical therapy: As animals age pet owners offer encounter their favorite canine having more difficulty walking and have a dwindling desire to play with toys. Physical therapy, specifically hydrotherapy is a wonderful way to help older and arthritic animals gain more mobility and lose weight. Hydrotherapy has been proven to have several therapeutic effects on the body including, muscle strengthening, relief of swelling, decreased joint pain, less stiffness in limbs, improved circulation, weight loss, and increased tissue healing to name a few. For more information on the benefits of hydrotherapy:
http://bit.ly/1w1qqoy

4. Veterinary visit and blood work: Weight gain can also be related to underlying health concerns such as hypothyroidism or other endocrine disorders. Scheduling a veterinary evaluation and routine blood work can be another important component in increasing the longevity of your dog’s life. Conditions such as hypothyroidism that predispose dogs to gain weight can be treated with a daily medication to improve hormonal balance. If feel that your dog is unnecessarily overweight there can be an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed.

5. Healthy treats: Pet owners love the chance to reward their favorite canine companion with treats and most dogs jump at the chance to consume these delicious products. The problem is many treats, which can include commercial dog treats or table scrapes can add many unnecessary calories to your dog’s daily intake. Reading labels and making note of the calories in these treats is an important component of understanding your dog’s overall health. Treats should not exceed more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily calories. There are healthier treats that can be offered to your pet to keep calories lower yet provide a fuller sensation. A pet owner can add steamed or pureed vegetables, such as carrots, green beans or sweet potato to add more fiber and thus a fuller feeling for your dog.

Q. Want a pet cat companion for my dog Lucky, who is 5. The problem is that I’m somewhat alergic to cats. So, not sure what to do!
ANSWER : A. Dogs can make friends with lots of species, including cats! If you are heart-set on a cat, allergenic breeds are available such as hairless or lesser haired Sphinx and Devon-Rexes. However these breeds can be rare and hard to find at times. A short-haired cat that is brushed regularly may also cause less allergies. Many people with allergies are also able to take medications such as a daily allergy medication or spray like Nasocrom which can make living with a cat much easier.

If your dog is very friendly with other dogs, then getting him a dog friend may be an option! That would keep you from needing to get a cat and having an allergic reaction. Looking at your local animal shelter may help you to find a dog for adoption that is similar in personality and play style to your current dog. Many shelters will also let you introduce your dog to the one you are interested in adopting to see if they will be a good fit! If you can’t get another pet at this time, taking your dog to a local dog park or dog meetup can help him to get more social interaction and get out extra energy without the need for caring for another pet.

Q. Whenever I take my dog on walks he always barks at people and others dogs in my neighborhood. What should I do to resolve the problem
ANSWER : A. The very first thing to do is to make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a good, happy dog and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. Depending on his breed, age, and health, your dog may require several long walks as well as a good game of chasing the ball and playing with some interactive toys.

Figure out what he gets out of barking and remove it. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to continue the barking behavior.

Ignore your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. That means don’t give him attention at all while he’s barking. Your attention only rewards him for being noisy. Don’t talk to, don’t touch, or even look at him. When he finally quiets, even to take a breath, reward him with a treat. To be successful with this method, you must wait as long as it takes for him to stop barking. Yelling at him is the equivalent of barking with him.

Get your dog accustomed to whatever causes him to bark. Start with whatever makes him bark at a distance. It must be far enough away that he doesn’t bark when he sees it. Feed him lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things.

Teach your dog the ‘quiet’ command. Oddly, the first step is to teach your dog to bark on command. Give your dog the command to “speak,” wait for him to bark two or three times, and then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.” Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach him the “quiet” command. In a calm environment with no distractions, tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.

As in all training, always end training on a good note, even if it is just for obeying something very simple, like the ‘sit’ command. If you dog regresses in training, go back to the last thing he did successfully and reinforce that before moving on again. Keep sessions short, 15-20 minutes max, and do this several times a day.

Q. My cocker spaniel is 9 years old. He has involuntary bowel movements (little drops) very frequently, especially when he is asleep.
ANSWER : A. Is your dog on a senior dog food? I would get your dog on a high quality high protien dog food. Ask a pet store assosicate or your regular vet for a food recommendation. When you buy a better food the dog will have to eat less to get the same amount of energy from the food. The dog has to eat more of the cheaper foods to get the energy it needs from it. Meaning more poop and buying more food. So the cost really evens out. So the lessen your dogs bowel movements get on a better senior dog food. Next talk to your vet they may have a recommendation. If you switch dogs do it slowly by mixing the foods. Start with 10% new 90% old mixed for at least a week until you have switched to 100% new 0% old. Senior foods have more fiber to help with bowel movements. Take the dog outside to go potty more frequently, right before bed time.

Read Full Q/A … : Symptoms Questions & Answers

Q. Hi my name is Sara my dog Penny needs to get fixed. will she be ok if I am able to get her fixed, she is 1 1/2 yrs old
ANSWER : A. It is wonderful to see that you are a responsible dog owner. Although no surgery–on a dog or a human–is entirely without risk, most dogs do just fine with being spayed and Penny should, too.

Q. Why do dogs eat grass?
ANSWER : A. Some pet parents get concerned when they see their favorite canine nibbling on grass in the yard. They wonder whether it is because hunger, boredom or an indication of an underlying illness. Often the consumption of grass will result in vomiting because it irritates the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. This is an extremely common problem for dog parents. There is no one reason for why dogs exhibit these behaviors and it is very much dependent on each dog. Here are some of the reasons why our dogs choose to eat grass:

1. Nutritional Issues

Historically speaking, dogs are considered omnivores, which mean they consume a variety of both meat and plant-based food. There is some indication that dogs with a low fiber diet may choose to scavenge in the grass to fulfill this nutritional deficiency. These dogs may also find that grass has an appealing flavor and consistency. If you feel that this may be the reason for your beloved canine consuming grass then consider discussing with your veterinarian on how to incorporate more fiber into your dog’s diet.

2. Boredom

Many dogs who are not receiving adequate exercise will be become bored and search out activities to occupy their time, including eating grass. Evaluate how much exercise your dog is getting on a daily basis and consider more walks or other fun activities, such as playing fetch or tug of war.

3. Upset Stomach

There is a belief that dogs with an upset or gassy stomach will self-medicate by consuming grass. Vomiting often follows this grass eating activity eliminating the contents of the stomach or changing the gas distension within the gastrointestinal tract. However, there is not much scientific evidence to back up this theory. If you are concerned about too much gastric acid in your dog’s stomach or any other underlying medical issue that could be the reason for their grass eating, consult with your veterinarian.

Overall, grass eating is usually not toxic to your dogs unless your lawn contains chemicals, including pesticides or herbicides. Monitor your dog’s behavior along with his diet and exercise to determine if there is a reason for the inappropriate grass snacking.

Q. Rescued a dog almost two weeks ago, and now that her kennel cough is gone her personality shines!! No previous training, how should I start?
ANSWER : A. POST FOUR:

After your dog is familiar with the behavior you lured from scratch, and taught to your dog, you can start to use the “no-reward marker” I talked about. What you do is ask the dog to perform the behavior, and if the dog does not perform the behavior, you simply say your no-reward marker (choose one: eh-eh, hey, uh-oh, oops) show them the treat, put it behind your back, and BRIEFLY ignore your dog. Just turn your back for a second or two, before turning back to your dog and saying, “let’s try that again.” When you’re ready to start over with your dog, make sure you move around. If you are repeating the same cue while in the same position, while your dog is in the same position, you are likely to receive the same results. The more you move around, and start fresh, the better your chances are of having your dog listen to your cue the second time around. BIG rewards when they dog it successfully! Lots of praise and treats.

My no-reward marker is “hey.” When my dog does something wrong I say, “hey” and she immediately understands that she needs to offer a different behavior. This is clear to her. I don’t have to say it in a mean way, I simply say, “hey” in a normal tone of voice and she understands what the word means.

Once you’ve built up that connection and communication with your new dog, you can work on all kinds of fun behaviors! I personally enjoy the more zen-like behaviors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruy9UMcuGh8

I like to teach my dog fun tricks that offer her a “job” to do of sorts like object retrieval: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4iertZSva8

(object retrieval training completed; what it looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx0Dml28FGY)

Scent-games are fun too! Very confidence building. Hide a REALLY smelly treat in a box, and place that box in a line of boxes. Let your dog go in the room while saying something like “search!” or “find it!” and watch them hunt for that smelly treat! Lots of rewards when they find it!

Q. My dog doesn’t eat, what should I do?
ANSWER : A. If this is a puppy, see a veterinarian immediately. Puppies should want to eat. Common causes for anorexia in puppies include viruses (parvo is a big one), parasitism, and foreign bodies. They need immediate care – go to an emergency vet if yours isn’t open. Puppies can get low blood sugar and dehydration very quickly.

If this is an adult dog and you observe other concerning signs, such as diarrhea or decreased energy, you should see a veterinarian.

If the dog seems otherwise bright and stable, try offering different types of food: wet food, canned tripe, or cooked chicken and rice. Some dogs will go for canned baby food: chicken, turkey, or beef as the main ingredient. Make sure there are no garlic or onions in the ingredients!

Causes of anorexia in adult dogs can range from less serious to severe. Younger dogs are more likely to get into trouble- they tend to eat things they shouldn’t, and can get foreign bodies from eating things like socks, or stomach upset from getting in the trash. Any dog may stop eating due to stress, or just being a picky eater. Middle aged dogs can stop eating when they’re stressed and also have Addison’s disease, which can be fatal. Older dogs tend to stop eating when they develop cancer or renal disease.

There is no one-size-fits-all recipe to know when the right time is to take your dog to the vet. The moral of this story is, if it’s not getting better, your pup feels bad, or you’re worried – go see the vet!

Read Full Q/A … : My Dog Won’t Eat