The words “spay” and “neuter” refer to the surgical sterilization of female and male pets by removing reproductive organs.
Because pets can get pregnant much sooner than most people think — kittens as early as four months and puppies as early as six months — over half of the more than 70,000 puppies and kittens born every day are the result of accidental litters. This is mostly due to the confusion over when to spay and neuter.
Actually, pets can be fixed safely as young as eight weeks. And younger pets tend to bounce back quicker from the procedure. Because pet health may vary, please check with your veterinarian to find the best time to spay or neuter your pet.
While both spaying and neutering are major medical procedures, they are also the most common surgeries practiced by veterinarians. Your pet will have a thorough examination before undergoing the procedure to make sure they are healthy enough for surgery.
Your pet will be under anesthesia for the procedure, and usually mild pain-control medications easily manage any discomfort resulting from the procedure. Recovery from the surgery is surprisingly quick. In fact, most dogs and cats are back to normal within 24 to 48 hours.
Just like people, pets become overweight from improper nutrition or lack of exercise. Good diet and exercise can help keep your pet healthy.
Spaying or neutering is unlikely to change temperament, basic personality or levels of playfulness and general activity. However, it can have a positive effect as some behavioral issues — especially sexual behaviors such as mounting, howling and the urge to roam — are reduced following surgery. And despite what some believe, pets show no signs of “missing” mating or breeding.
“It takes two to tango,” as they say, so males are every bit as much a part of the problem as females. Plus, male pets are more likely to run away in search of a mate, which puts them at a much higher risk of disease and injury.
This is a human feeling — not one that your dog or cat experiences. They may, however, be less likely to exhibit sexual-related behaviors such as marking and howling.
There is no medical research that proves it’s healthier to wait until your dog or cat has gone into heat. In fact, spaying them before their first heat greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancers and reproductive-related diseases. And if done properly, spaying and neutering at any age can eliminate or reduce the development of reproductive organ tumors.
Dogs and cats can be fixed at any time during their life span. Your veterinarian can address any concerns there might be about performing the procedure on an older pet.