If you’ve recently adopted a new puppy or dog, you likely already know the benefits of spaying and neutering. But let’s review them, just in case.
Aside from eliminating the risk of unwanted puppies having your pet spayed or neutered can prevent the urge to escape, get lost or hurt. Spaying female dogs and neutering male dogs can also reduce certain unwanted behaviors and reduces the risk of serious diseases like testicular cancer and mammary cancer. And because many shelters in the US remain at capacity, controlling the dog population can reduce euthanasia of unadopted pets.
But like many other routine medical procedures, timing of spaying and neutering is important in order to achieve the desired results. You want to pursue this procedure ideally before full sexual maturity, but when the dog is old enough to undergo anesthesia safely.
In female dogs, we recommend spaying before they ever experience a heat cycle to protect your dog from mammary cancer or developing a pyometra. A pyometra is a bacterial infection that can develop in the reproductive tract causing female dogs to become very sick and if that occurs, they will need an emergency spay.
While spaying at any time will confer the other benefit listed above, doing it before the first heat cycle is the best way to protect your dog from mammary cancer. You’ll also save yourself weeks of annoyance from the moodiness, dripping blood, and unwanted attention from male dogs in the area. Depending on the breed of your dog, spaying should be done between 6 and 9 months of age.
Male dogs should be neutered after their musculoskeletal system matures, in order to prevent certain orthopedic conditions later (particularly in larger breeds). But of course, you probably don’t want to endure too many of the unsavory habits of an unneutered male dog. So, with smaller dogs, we recommend neutering at six months of age or later. With larger dogs, waiting until 12 to 18 months old is ideal.
As always, each situation can be a bit different. That’s why we should discuss your new pet’s health at your next checkup, and then schedule a time for the neuter or spay procedure.