In addition to controlling shelter population, getting your pets fixed can also reduce the risk of certain cancers, avoid life-threatening disease, and prevent undesirable behaviors associated with intact pets. While dogs and cats can be surgically fixed at any age, we sat down with our doctors to find out why they recommend having your puppy or kitten fixed as soon as they are old enough:
"Spaying and neutering your pets can drastically reduce and even eliminate the risk of certain cancers that affect the reproductive systems." ~ Dr. Linley
"Surgically fixing your pet can eliminate the risk for infections like pyometra and prostatitis, which can be life-threatening and very costly to treat." ~ Dr. Dennis
"In addition to the health benefits, spaying and neutering helps keep the pet population down and prevents overcrowding in shelters." ~ Dr. Willingham
Did you know that spaying your female dog before her first heat cycle means there is nearly zero chance of her developing mammary cancer?
What is involved in spaying/neutering my pet?
The surgical fixing of pets involves fully removing the uterus and ovaries in females, and fully removing the testicles in males. Pets do not require hormone supplementation after this procedure, and are virtually unaffected by the removal of these hormones from the body. If anything, the absence of these hormones has positive outcomes, such as reduced instance of undesirable behaviors and not having to deal with messy heat cycles.
Undesirable behaviors like aggression, urinary marking, mounting, and roaming are significantly less likely to occur in neutered dogs, and instances of these behaviors in intact males have been known to reduce or resolve after being neutered.
When should I have my pet spayed/neutered?
We recommend spaying and neutering your pets around 5-6 months of age. At this age, most pets are able to safely go under anesthesia for the procedure and have not yet entered their first heat cycle or started to develop undesirable behaviors. Puppies and kittens requiring hernia repair can often have this corrected at the same time as their spay or neuter.
What does the recovery for this procedure look like?
Spay and neuter procedures are both outpatient procedures. Pets are fasted the day of surgery and are able to go home the same day. After the procedure, your puppy or kitten will need to wear an e-collar for 10-14 days to prevent them from chewing or licking at their suture site until they are fully healed. Your pet will be sent home on a pain medication to ease any discomfort during the healing process. You will be unable to bathe your pet for 10-14 days after the procedure.
My pet isn’t a puppy/kitten anymore. Aren’t they too old to be fixed?
While we recommend having your pet fixed as early as possible to reap all of the health benefits, it is never too late to have your pet fixed. It is also much safer to perform a planned spay or neuter on an older pet than it is to perform surgery on a sick or potentially unstable pet in an emergency situation, like a pyometra.
Are there any benefits to putting off my pet’s spay/neuter until they are older?
The short answer is no. Often times, the reasons we hear for wanting to put off spaying/neutering their pet is so that they can breed. Due to high shelter populations and the health risks associated with leaving your pet intact, we do not recommend breeding your pets. Not spaying or neutering your pets also makes them more vulnerable to certain medical issues that can develop before they’ve had a chance to breed or in between litters.
What are the biggest risks and concerns for not spaying or neutering my pet?
An infection of the uterus is called pyometra, and is most likely to happen after a heat cycle. Pyometra almost always warrants emergency surgery involving removal of the uterus and ovaries, several days of IV fluids and antibiotics, and close monitoring to save the pet’s life. An untreated pyometra is almost always fatal and requires immediate action.
Alternatively, waiting to neuter your male pet can result in an increased likelihood of developing behaviors like aggression, urinary marking, roaming, and mounting. Unneutered males are also at risk of developing prostatitis, which refers to painful inflammation of the prostate. There is often an infectious component to prostatitis, and can be extremely costly to treat due to the type of antibiotics required to treat this condition.
Additionally, we strongly recommend spaying and neutering to eliminate or reduce risks of mammary, ovarian, and uterine cancer in females, and prostate and testicular cancer in males.
If you have any questions about spaying or neutering your pet, or would like to schedule a time to bring your pet in for one of these procedures, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 972-347-6100!