Can You Spay a 5 Year Old Dog

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Steward.

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Can you spay a 5-year-old dog? Is it safe to get older dogs spayed? Is it even necessary once they’ve already had puppies? These are frequent questions asked by many owners of older dogs. The topic of spaying an older dog comes with a lot of fright and confusion.

That’s why we’re here to answer all those questions to help you make your decision about spaying an older dog. 

Can You Spay a 5-Year-Old Dog?

Yes, you can definitely spay a 5-year-old dog. It’s always best to spay dogs when they’re younger to prevent serious illnesses associated with the uterus, as well as reduce the overpopulation of dogs. However, even if they’re older, it’s best to spay a dog rather than not have them spayed at all.

A 5 year old dog being prepared to be spayed

There’s always a risk when getting your dog spayed, young or old. Though, that risk grows higher when your dog ages. A 5-year-old dog, depending on the breed, may not be considered old. A dog who’s reached their fifth year is at an adult stage. However, this is not typically important when thinking about what age to spay your dog. The sooner you spay a dog, the better it is for her health.

Is a Dog Ever Too Old to Be Spayed?

A dog is never too old to be spayed. It’s always best to get your dog spayed, even in old age, rather than never spaying them. Even if your dog has already had many litters, it’s never too late to get them spayed. In older dogs, the main concern is no longer reducing the overpopulation of dogs

The main concern is the risk of pyometra, a fatal infection of the uterus. Any aged female dog who hasn’t been spayed is at risk for pyometra, however, it’s most often seen in older dogs who have had puppies. This is because pyometra occurs when the uterus gets filled with pus. This can happen when the cervix opens after a dog has had birth or when she is in heat.

No matter what age the dog is, she’s still at risk of developing this fatal infection. However, getting your dog spayed earlier can greatly reduce this risk.

Is it Dangerous for Older Dogs to Get Spayed?

Some risks may occur in older dogs after the surgery has been done. Older dogs have a harder time recovering after surgery than younger dogs do. They may even have complications due to the anesthesia

However, speaking to your vet can give you the right answers about spaying your dog. Your veterinarian will be able to run some tests on your older dog to check if she is healthy enough to go through the surgery

Your vet will be able to let you know if your dog needs extra postoperative care. Most older dogs require more rest time and need to be looked after more often than younger dogs who’ve been spayed. 

What is the Best Age to Spay a Dog?

If you ask any veterinarian what age is best for a dog to be spayed, they will most likely tell you that 6-12 months of age is the best time. Some will even perform the surgery on dogs younger than 6 months as long as they are healthy. 

Two 5 year old dogs out on the lawn

Getting your dog spayed before she goes through her first heat is beneficial to her overall health. If you aren’t interested in breeding your dog’s puppies, getting her spayed before her first litter can help to reduce the population of stray dogs in pounds that get euthanized each year. 

Spaying a dog before she turns 1 year old will prevent some conditions, such as:

Pyometra Bacteria

As mentioned above, pyometra is a huge risk to unspayed dogs. This condition is seen mostly in older dogs that are above 7 years old, though it can occur at any age. 

Pyometra is a fatal condition and can make your dog very sick. If your dog has not been spayed, make sure to check for signs of this infection and take your dog to a vet if you notice any one of these:

Mammary Cancer

This is a type of breast cancer in dogs that is often seen in dogs who have not been spayed. The risk can also be high for dogs who have been spayed after their first heat cycle. Although, the risk is higher for those who have not been spayed at all. This is why it’s very important to spay your dogs before their first heat when they are still young.


Dogs who go through heat cycles are commonly kept on lockdown and need to be watched by their owners. This can be stressful for a female dog because she naturally has urges to go out and find a mate.

A 5 year old dog sitting on grass

The heat cycle is a difficult time for female dogs and owners of female dogs. Likewise, female dogs also have the need to have puppies while in heat. If you are an owner who has to constantly keep an eye on your dog while in heat, the best thing to do is get her spayed.

Pain During the Estrus Cycle

Female dogs often feel pain during their estrus cycle when they are in heat. This can cause them to change moods and feel agitated, it may even cause them to be more aggressive towards others. Getting your dog spayed before her first heat cycle can eliminate the pain that your dog will be used to if you wait until she’s older. 

Cancer in the Ovaries or Uterus

Tumors can develop in the ovaries and uterus of a dog, though this is not common. It’s mostly seen in older dogs. Even though it’s not a common condition, it’s one less thing to worry about with a spayed dog. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that a dog can feel protective towards her puppies. This may result in a change in behavior towards you and anyone in the household. If you aren’t sure if you’re able to deal with this, getting your dog spayed before she has puppies will prevent this type of behavior. 


Even though a 5-year-old dog can be spayed, it’s always best to spay your dog when they are younger. Talk with a veterinarian about spaying your dog, you may feel more comfortable with the decision.