Benefits of Early Spaying/Neutering
Early spaying and neutering (sterilizing pets 8 to 14 weeks of age) has been practiced in North America for 25 years. Altering pets between 5 and 7 months of age was established by tradition rather than for any specific medical reason. Years ago, when safe pediatric anesthetic techniques were not available, waiting until a patient was older increased the safety of surgery. But we no longer need to delay altering for this reason.
Myths Laid to Rest
Over the years, the safety of early altering has been questioned, mainly by vets who may be unfamiliar with the surgical and anesthetic techniques required for pediatric patients. As well, concerns that early altering could increase the incidence of feline lower urinary tract disease, could affect skeletal development, and affect behavior have been voiced. These concerns have largely been laid to rest by many studies, and early altering has become more widespread and available. A study recently published by researchers at the University of Florida found no significant differences in the physical and behavioral characteristics of cats altered at 7 weeks of age compared to those altered at 7 months of age.
Earlier = Easier on Your Pet
Recent scientific research shows evidence that a younger puppy or kitten does better with the anesthesia and the surgical process. They typically have faster recoveries than pets spayed or neutered when they are older. And for female pets, spaying before she has a first litter or heat cycle is usually a simpler procedure. The only difference in sterilizing younger pets is that they may need different anesthetics and are more prone to hypothermia.
Sterilizing your pet at an early age not only ensures all the benefits spaying and neutering guarantees, but also brings with it additional health benefits:
• Spaying your female dog before her first heat and neutering your male dog as close to six months as possible reduces tumors and some cancer possibilities by 200 times and will eliminate an infection of the uterus completely. In comparison, spaying a female before her second heat or waiting until a male is over a year old reduces the chances of tumors and cancer by twelve times.
• The chances for developing breast cancer go down to almost zero and the chances for developing mammary gland cancer are drastically decreased if your pet is spayed before her first estrous cycle or heat (before she reaches sexual maturity).
• Early spays prevent unplanned, unwanted pregnancies. If your puppy or kitten becomes pregnant (puppies can become pregnant at younger than 6 months of age and kittens can become pregnant at as young as 4 months of age), it can be potentially damaging to her health, since she is very young. A young puppy or kitten is in no way suited for motherhood.
• If your male dog is neutered before he has learned to lift his leg and/or mount (at around 6 months of age), he most likely never will.
And don't forget…spaying and neutering also ensures these health benefits…
Neutering your male pet eliminates the chances of developing testicular tumors and cancer and greatly decreases the chances of developing prostatic disease, infections and disorders of the prostate glands, perianal tumors, serious types of hernias and infections and disorders of the prepuce.
Spaying your female pet eliminates the chances of developing pyometra (a serious uterine infection), ovarian cancer and ovarian infections, uterine cancer and uterine infections, acute metritis and difficult pregnancy and delivery. It also greatly reduces the chances of developing breast cancer and tumors, tumors of the reproductive system, mammary cancer, mastitis, mammary tumors, false pregnancies, certain skin conditions related to hormonal imbalances and hair loss.