DR. CRISTINA VALAS, DVM

Owner, The Family Pet Hospital

What is the right age to spay or neuter your puppy? Traditionally, veterinarians recommend age five or six months, because puppies are big enough to tolerate anesthesia and young enough to make the procedure relatively simple and make speedy recoveries. Spaying females at this age lowers the chance of mammary cancer to less than 0.5 percent and prevents the complications of heat cycles such as pregnancy, unwanted litters and serious uterine infections. The surgery is also more complicated in a mature bitch that has undergone several heat cycles.

“All female dogs can and should be spayed between five and six months of age.”

DR. CRIS VALAS

Lately, however, the age when pets should be spayed or neutered has come under a great deal of scrutiny. Large breeds can be genetically predisposed to hip and elbow dysplasia. Early neutering will not cause these issues, but may worsen them and make the animal more prone to injuries such as ligament tears in their knees. Recent studies suggest it better to spay or neuter after they are a year or older and the female has undergone one heat cycle. If you alter large dogs before their growth plates close, the dogs will grow longer or taller, making their bone structure thinner and posing unusual forces on their joints.

All female dogs can and should be spayed between five and six months of age. If you decide not to spay at six months, you are trading one problem for another potentially more serious. Your bitch will now have a higher incidence of mammary cancer, and you will need to manage a heat cycle during which she will bleed in your house and attract males from the neighborhood. The only reason to neuter a male dog at six months is to prevent behavioral problems such as aggression, marking or roaming. At this age, the surgery is simple and recovery faster. If your dog is a large or giant breed, it may be prudent to wait until 12-24 months of age. If you decide not to neuter your dog, it is still advisable to neuter them by age five to prevent medical issues with their prostate and testicles that would complicate the anesthetic procedure. All studies show that animals that have been spayed or neutered live longer than animals that have not.

All studies show that animals that have been spayed or neutered live longer than animals that have not.

DR. CRIS VALAS

Questions? Email Dr. Cristina Valas below, or
Call our hospital to speak to one of our customer service representatives, (508)-231-1223.

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