Spaying and neutering your pets: Risks, benefits, timing, and more

If you do not intend for your dog or cat to reproduce, an ovariohysterectomy (spay) or orchiectomy (neuter) is strongly recommended. There are numerous benefits associated with these procedures such as prevention of unintended pregnancies, reduction of unwanted behaviors (spraying in tom cats, running away, certain types of aggression, etc.), prevention of infection in the reproductive tract, and reduced risk for the development of numerous types of cancer.

The best age for an ovariohysterectomy or orchiectomy to be performed is very important to consider and varies with each individual. For female cats and female dogs who will never be used for breeding purposes, spaying at an early age is often the most appropriate choice. This is because female cats and dogs spayed prior to their first heat cycle have a significantly decreased chance of developing mammary gland adenocarcinoma, a type of breast cancer, during their life time. For male cats, it is also often the most appropriate choice to neuter earlier in life. This is because male cats who are not neutered before unwanted behaviors have started to develop (spraying/marking, etc.), often keep those behaviors for life. On the other hand, for medium to large breed male dogs, neutering too early can increase the risk for development of musculoskeletal problems, such as cranial cruciate ligament rupture (similar to ACL tears in humans). For this reason, neutering at an older age, at least 6 months, is often most appropriate for male puppies who are likely to become medium to large-sized dogs.

Even for female cats and dogs who are not intended for breeding and are believed to be at no risk of developing unwanted pregnancies, spaying is still recommended, as these individuals are still at risk of developing life-threatening uterine infections, uterine and ovarian cancer, and nuance behaviors associated with the heat cycle. Similarly, even for male cats and dogs who are not intended for breeding and are kept away from intact females and given no way to roam from home, neutering is still recommended, as these individuals are still at risk for prostatic disease, undesirable behaviors (such as increased aggression and marking), and testicular cancer.

Spaying and neutering: the truth vs common misbeliefs

TRUEFALSE
On average, spayed female cats and dogs live longer than unspayed cats and dogs.It’s best for animals to have at least 1 litter before being spayed.
On average, neutered male cats and dogs live longer than unneutered cats and dogs.It’s best for animals to have gone through at least 1 heat cycle before being spayed.
Spayed and neutered cats and dogs have a lower risk of developing many different cancers and diseases when compared to intact cats and dogs.Spaying and neutering your dogs and cats will cause significant weight gain and/or obesity.

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Ardmore Companion Animal Hospital
25547 Main Street
Ardmore,TN 38449
Phone: (931) 427-8383