When is it Safe to Have My Dog Spayed or Neutered?
It’s always one of the more controversial and heavily opinionated aspects of canine care, but it remains one of the most important in the light of overpopulation control and reduction of strays: We’re talking about the subject of what age to spay and neuter. Insight passed down from generation to generation of dog lover suggests puppies and dogs should be fixed within six months, while veterinary professionals attending the latest seminars claim it’s much more beneficial to perform the surgery much earlier. Is there a right or a wrong here?
It all started with “traditional folk wisdom,” which was passed down and that suggested we spay or neuter our four-legged friends when they were just six months old. But let’s put this viewpoint into perspective: This so-called folk wisdom, primarily stemming from the early 20th century, and our reliance on it was based humans’ general ignorance of the way things work – and, of course, the limitations of vet science at that time. Though embarrassing to admit as a species, we humans also once believed that if we created horrific grimaces with our faces, they would remain infinitely contorted…indeed, the point here is that we live, learn and follow the arrow of progress in just one direction.
Okay – so exactly what is the optimum age for a female pup to be spayed or a male to be neutered? Based on research provided by the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States, puppies of both sexes may be safely fixed at eight weeks of age, so long as they check out otherwise healthy. Beyond the efforts of preventing shelter and stray populations from growing at an all-too-alarming rate, there are a plethora of additional benefits that come along with spaying and neutering.
For the tail-wagging gals, being spayed eliminates the estrous cycle – the period in which they are sexually receptive or “in heat,” as it is commonly known. While there remains no universal standard for the time period during which a female canine goes into heat, the estrous cycle normally takes place between once and twice a year, depending on the mix, breed and size of the particular canine.
When it comes to the boys, the process of neutering leaves them unable to impregnate a fertile female canine during one of those chance, “romantic” encounters; indeed, much like spaying a female precludes the risk of reproductive cancers, so too does neutering a male avoid all chances of testicular cancer. And while it cannot also eliminate all chances of prostate cancer, neutering does reduce the risk of inflammation in a canine’s prostate as he ages.
The bottom line: Our beloved canine companions are domesticated household pets that are pretty far removed from their wolf brethren, irrespective of how they may flash those stripped teeth at times. Spaying and neutering reduces the source of aggression stemming from sexual competition and continues to keep our world’s shelters reduced in population, with far less unfortunate strays to wander the streets uncared for.