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What Age Should Dogs and Cats Be Neutered or Spayed?

August 6, 2019

As the early bond between humans and companion animals developed, dog and cat owners looked for humane ways to improve their pet's health and well-being. In fact, the numerous campaigns over the past fifty years to spay and neuter pets has affected the pet/owner relationship in many ways. Before companion animals were fixed, they were far less convenient as pets. For example, intact male cats would spray and female dogs in heat would roam the neighborhood in search of a mate. In 1973, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) pioneered the concept of spay and neutering all adopted animals. Since there is simply not enough homes for rescued pets, abandoned pets are still being euthanized but at a reduced rate.

When to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Numerous benefits are claimed for spaying and neutering pets, such as being less likely to roam, avoiding female heat cycles during breeding season, reducing a pet's risk of certain cancers, infections and malignant tumors. However, there is no guarantee that fixing your pet will correct bad behaviors, but male dogs are less likely to mount other dogs, people and inanimate objects. Listed below are recommendations for when to spay or neuter your pet:

  • DOGS - As long as your puppy is healthy, a male puppy can be neutered as young as eight weeks old. Adult male dogs also can be neutered but there is a slightly higher risk of post-op complications, especially if the animal is overweight or suffering from other health problems. Spaying is the most responsible way to prevent unwanted puppies. Breeding should be left to breeders with a knowledge of genetics and a commitment to preserve breed qualities.
  • CATS - Generally speaking, it is safe for healthy kittens to be spayed or neutered as young as eight weeks old. Early intervention is recommended to eliminate the chance of unwanted pregnancy as well as urine spraying. It is advisable to schedule surgery before your feline companion reaches five months of age. It is possible to spay a female cat that is in heat.

Before you make the decision to spay or neuter your companion animal, you should consult with your breeder and your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate age for this surgical procedure for each pet. There are benefits to neutering or spaying a pet after puberty, which can include a reduction in orthopedic issues, a possible reduction in certain cancers in specific breeds, and possible improvement in sex-related behaviors. However, there is increasing evidence that previous and current recommendations are too young for breeds that are not fully developed and may still need time to grow.

As a pet owner, you are responsible for having your puppy or kitten spayed or neutered. For the best professional advice, talk to a caring veterinarian at PrimeVET in Orange Park about your specific companion animal. She will be able to address all of your questions and concerns.

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