At What Age Should I Spay Or Neuter My Dog or Cat? What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Neutering My Pet? Revisiting The Idea Of Early-Age Neutering Ron Hines DVM PhD click for a larger image and text Lots of my articles are plagiarized and altered on the web to market products and services. There are never ads running or anything for sale with my real articles. You can read those studies herehereherehere and here A Potential Side Effect Of Early-age Neutering You Might Not Know About There is, perhaps, a non-surgical option on the horizon for neutering shelter pets.
It is currently being used experimentally in the USA to lower stray dog numbers on Indian Reservations. Like any powerful drug, with time, it will become clearer what its cost in side effects might be. But you can read about the vaccine, GonaCon, here I have been surgically bit dogs and cats for many years. Over the years, my thoughts on this subject have changed. During most of my career, it was a given that all pets should be neutered. We accepted that without question.
Most veterinarians still do But with time, I began to realize that many of the reasons given for this surgery were not based on science or the long-term welfare of individual, beloved pets. Years of observing pets in my practice led me realize that many of the problems I was treating could be traced back to the pets being surgically neutered or neutered too young Why Do Veterinarians Spay Female Pets And Neuter Bit Males?
In rural communities, veterinarians did not frequently spay dogs and cats until the late s. But in urban settings, owners found the heat cycles of their female pets and the puppies and kittens that resulted were a major inconvenience When Pentobarbital sodium anesthetic became available init made veterinarians more confident about entering the abdomen of dogs and cats to perform serious surgery.
This began in New York City in the late s at the ASPCA hospital. Their staff saw sterilization as a solution for the ever-increasing problem of more adoptable pets than potential new pet owners Bythey were offering free sterilization surgeries to financially hard-pressed owners During this same period, humane groups throughout the United States began to incorporate polices that prohibited the adoption of un-neutered orphan animals.
Inthe Maryland SPCA began performing spay-neuter surgery on immature kittens and puppies. This was to comply with their bylaw changes that required that all adoptable pets — regardless of age - be neutered.
I was their veterinarian at the time. InI worked with Amy Freeman Lee to set up a similar program in San Antonio, Texas Faced with the grim task of euthanizing unwanted pets, I hope you can see how kind, well-meaning people might pursue such a policy We were inundated with puppies and kittens, many of which were the result of accidental breeding of young adult animals on their first heat cycle. These decisions eventually influence everything from State and Federal law to widely held public conceptions and misconceptions Veterinarians in private practice are fragmented.
We do not have the time or resources to attend the many conventions and symposia at which these policy decisions are made and many veterinarians would find these conventions dry and tedious — like a day watching CSPAN But there was another important factor - many veterinarians preferred neutering immature opion. There are a number of good, practical reasons for this The reproductive tract of juvenile pets is less vascular.
That is, it is less likely to undergo excessive bleeding. In younger pets, no internal sutures are needed at all Juvenile pets are less obese. Abdominal fat complicates the surgery and the suturing process Juvenile pets heal very rapidly. Within 5 days of surgery, their spay incision is hardly noticeable Neutering pets young avoids the complication of owners bring their female pets in when they are in heat or already pregnant Bitches in heat bleed excessively during surgery Juvenile pets are smaller, easier to handle and less exhaustive of supplies and labor.
One tires after a day of hoisting lb dogs onto the operating table At that time, veterinarians knew very little of the negative implications of juvenile neutering and thought " if we neutered pets young, so much the better for everybody " But Did Any Of These Reasons Address The Long-term Health Of My Pet? I will get to them later Do The Negative Effects For My Pet Outweigh The Positive Effects Or Vice Versa?
No one can answer that question for you. It is convenient to make blanket, all-inclusive statements on what decisions are right or wrong. But that is a foolish approach — at least when it comes to neutering your pet. Less Mammary Gland Tumors Veterinarians know that the breast lumps we see in older female dogs occur most commonly in the pets that have not been spayed, or the ones that were spayed after they had had more than two heat periods During heat estruscertain hormone levels in your pet spike.
That said, the risks are not high. Although some of them have the potential to become malignant and life-threatening, the majority never do.
Most are quite easy for your veterinarian to successfully remove Mammary gland tumors are rarer in female cats. As in dogs, spaying reduces their frequency. When it occurs, it can be treated successful by surgically removing the womb No Estrus Mess Most unspayed female dogs are messy during the early part of their heat cycles proestrus.
This occurs every months and last days. During their estrus period, female dogs often urinate more frequently, lick their genitals, drip bloody fluids and crave attention. There presence will attract the stubborn amorous attention of un-neutered male dogs running loose in your neighborhood Unspayed female cats cycle more frequently.
During their estrus cycle they become more demanding of attention, with frequent rubbing, purring, rolling and meowing. It is not normal for them to bleed These periods last days No Humping Dogs Many of my clients are embarrassed when they find their male dog mounting another dog - or them. Unspayed female dogs occasionally do this as well. Neutering male dogs usually ends this behavior Male dogs are very persistent in getting to female dogs that are in heat.
If a loose female dog in heat passes your bit, it is not uncommon for your pet to dig out or escape to join it Less Wandering Loose, neutered dogs tend to stay closer to home and get into less trouble around the neighborhood.
The same goes for neutered cats If you let your pets run loose and unattended, they will live longer before they are killed by cars than they would have if you had not neutered them.
But why are your pets out-and-about unattended? Less Aggression Dogs with problem aggression tend to gain weight and become more phlegmatic, and calm when they are neutered. However, because aggression has many causes, neutering does not always end the problem No Urine Spray Un-neutered male cats and female cats fighting for territory tend to spray urine.
That means that of un-neutered male dogs, 7 will develop these tumors. These tumors, when they occur in older pets, can usually be removed very successfully Dogs whose testicle s do not descend from their abdomens have a considerably higher rate of a particular testicular tumor later in life ref1ref In these dogs, the solution is to neuter them once they are mature Testicular tumors are very rare in cats ref Prostate Disorders Prostate cancer is quite rare in dogs and cats.
But prostate enlargement is a normal sign of aging in un-neutered male dogs — as it is in men ref In male dogs, prostate enlargement is sometimes associated with problems defecating. It rarely causes the urinary problems seen in men. Neutering your male dog removes the hormones that are though to be responsible for this condition. This can be done when, and if, a problem arises in your pet.
They occasionally occur in old, un-neutered male dogs. Eighty percent of these tumors are benign ref They are the third most common tumor in old male dogs and they occasionally occur in females as well.
The benign form occurs less commonly in neutered male dogs. But studies indicate that the number of the more dangerous adenocarcenomas formed is not decreased by neutering same ref. Any that are still under the control of sex hormones should respond equally well to GnRH medications ref They are not a recognized problem in cats Helps Solve The Pet Over-population Problem This is definitely true. If you are an irresponsible pet owner who lets your pets run loose in the neighborhood, this is a legitimate benefit of neutering.
This is also an excellent way to make a "social statement" about your concern for animals in general It is only better behavior on the part of American pet owners that will solve the homeless pet problem. The Pet Overpopulation-Pet Neuter Fallacy Although it is true that neutered pets cannot breed, the pets that contribute to the pet over-population problem are not the ones owned by responsible people who have their pets spayed and neutered.
The emotional needs of pets are not the same as the emotional needs of people. There is no credible evidence that pets miss having litters or romantic liaisons. As your pet matures, hormones produced by its testes and ovaries determine the shape and length of its bones. When these hormones are removed too soon through neutering before puberty, the bones grow for a longer period and to different proportions. Spay-neuter before one year of age significantly increases the development of these tumors.
Neutered dogs are at a significantly higher risk of developing this condition than those that are not re opion You can read more about hypothyroidism here Weakened Ligaments, Orthopedic Disorders And Subsequent Arthritis It is difficult to decide when torn cruciate ligaments, hip problems and arthritis occur due to the obesity that often accompanies neutering or when it is due to a decrease in joint strength and altered structure that also accompanies neutering ref1ref2ref The inactivity of many neutered pets may also contribute to this.
Whatever the cause, veterinarians and others have noticed that all these problems increase in frequency in neutered pets ref Hip Dysplasia Some dogs that are neutered young are prone to develop hip dysplasia.
You can read more about this problem here Obesity Neutered and spayed pets tend to get fatter than those that remain intact ref There is no denying this. That risk is increased when they are neutered before their first heat cycle There is also no denying that limiting your pets food intake will prevent this.
But that is considerably easier said than done ref When they do become too chubby, they suffer an increased opion for all the problems that overweight humans face.
In cats, that includes diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, gall bladder and bile duct problems arthritis and hepatic lipidosis ref1ref Cruciate Ligament tears Spayed and neutered dogs have a significantly higher incidence of this disease. Whether this is due to their obesity that causes vulvar inflammations or the urinary incontinence of low post-spay estrogen levels is unknown When these female pets were neutered too youngsome required later surgery to repair their poorly developed vulvas ref This does not appear to be a significant problem in neutered male dogs or in neutered female cats.
There has been speculation, over the years, that early neutering of male cats leads to urethral blockages ref FUS. Most cats that develop blockages are neutered males — but then almost all our male pet cats are neutered ref Urinary Incontinence This is primarily a problem in spayed female dogs. Many of these dogs get better when given female hormone — the ones no longer present after spay Urinary Tract Infections These too are more common in spayed female dogs. But these dogs tend to be overweight which may account for their increased risk Diabetes Neutered pets tend to get fat.
And in fat cats, diabetes risk increases dramatically ref The situation is not as clear in dogs. The relationship between missing sex hormones, diabetes, obesity, and bone strength is more studied in humans. Statistically, it occurs considerably more frequently in pets that are neutered. There are inherent risks in living. All lives - ours and our pets come to an end one day. The scientific evidence is that your pet will simply leave this Earth due to some other cause.
There are lots of legitimate reasons for neutering pets - but living longer, healthier lives is not one of them Spay and neuter is said to be less common in Europe.
But there is no evidence that pets in Europe live shorter lives that pets in the United States or Canada. But it will be very hard for them to credibly show that it is not just pet and owner lifestyles that accounts for this. These groups work toward the same ends. I do not think that this is some devious plan — it is just a tacit alliance of powerful groups with mutual self-interest and shared agendas. It is similar in some respects, to the vaccination coalition which a Texas veterinarian fought against so valiantly ref The American Society For the Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals ASPCA This is a dedicated group of individuals devoted to animal welfare However, on the subject of spay-neuter, they have let their hearts overrule their minds.
It does not make its IRS available online to the public The Corporate Animal Health Care Industry There was a time when veterinarians were in charge of setting policy within the veterinary practices that they owned. That is becoming less and less the case. Decisions are being made more and more by publicly traded companies which are operated to maximize revenues VCA Antech Inc Veterinary Corporation Of America was founded in by three MBAs from the human health care industry.
I am not against neutering pets at the right time and for the right reasons. If you have a kitten, or puppy, do not rush to have it "fixed". Confining your pet to your home as a teenager is quite sufficient I could not live with my 4-year old male cat, Oreo, if he had not been neutered.
But wait until cats are sexually mature to have them spayed and neutered. The time cats become sexually mature and the time their adult canine teeth fangs reach their full length generally coincide.
Decisions based on hormonal analysis of the blood of your pet might be more scientific, but I have observed through many years of practice that examination of the canine teeth is quite opion and effective If you have a female cat, you must be very careful not to let it escape outside during its first heat or it will most certainly become pregnant.
It can be spayed during its heat period or shortly thereafter If you have a male cat and let it roam before it is neutered, it will fight; develop bite infections and possibly incurable feline AIDS or Feline Leukemia. Once it is neutered, still do not let it out of doors unleashed or unaccompanied If you have a female dog or puppy, wait until months after its first heat period to have it spayed. Time the surgery before its anticipated second heat period If you have a female dog, let it pass through one heat cycle before considering having it spayed.
My Labrador, Max, is not neutered. He is the proud father of zero puppies and will stay that way Mounting family members is a normal rite of passage and a sign of approaching puberty in puppies and adolescent dogs. If normal adolescent mounting behavior embarrasses you - remember it will passgiven a little patience and some instruction.
If your pet has medical or serious temperament problems that might benefit from an earlier neuter, you might consider it a bit earlier. But there are often non-surgical ways to tackle the problem - try them first. Some owners have their opion dogs neutered only to find that the problem for which it was done did not go away If you are uncertain, have your bit receive a reversible sex hormone blocking injection first.
Fat pets are harder for veterinarians to work on and blood vessels become harder to identify and tie off securely. Dogs and cats will eat to please you if you over feed them. That will depend on the efforts of pet owners like you.
No level of government is free of its mantra. Both are well-funded and sophisticated. Both are willing to exert pressure on government and others to preserve their interests. Both fund large advertising campaigns to manipulate public opinion. Both fund research likely to be favorable to their cause. Hines More Articles Home Page Links Was this article helpful? A bit donation helps keep this webpage online and free of ads trying to sell you things Ron Hines DVM PhD click for a larger image and text Lots of my articles are plagiarized and altered on the web to market products and services.
You can read those studies herehereherehere and here Old habits die hard. Do your best to spread the word A Potential Side Effect Of Early-age Neutering You Might Not Know About There is, perhaps, a non-surgical option on the horizon for neutering shelter pets. You may not use, distribute, or reproduce anything from this website for any commercial purpose whatsoever. Downloading any pdf material from this site is strictly prohibited. All reproductions of copyrighted material on this site are solely for pet owner non-commercial educational online viewing aka scholarly sharing.
Any other use is strictly prohibited Ron Hines DVM PhD click for a larger image and text Lots of my articles are plagiarized and altered on the web to market products and services. But you can read about the vaccine, GonaCon, here The reproductive tract of juvenile pets is less vascular. One tires after a day of hoisting lb dogs onto the operating table At that time, veterinarians knew very little of the negative implications of juvenile neutering and thought " if we neutered pets young, so much the better for everybody " Was this article helpful?
Any other use is strictly prohibited.