Having your dog 'fixed' can have many health and behavioral benefits. Here, our West Salem vets explain more about spaying or neutering, and how it can benefit your puppy.
When should I spay or neuter my dog?
Spaying or neutering can be done when your dog is almost any age, as long as they are healthy. That said, the most common age for getting puppies fixed is 6 to 9 months. However, recently some have started to question this advice.
Some recent studies appear to suggest that spaying or neutering pets at 6 to 9 months of age, may, lead to an increased risk of conditions such as cranial cruciate injuries, joint disorders and some cancers for some breeds. This appears to be related to how sex hormones impact how each pet's cardiovascular, immune and musculoskeletal systems develop, and the age at which different breeds reach sexual maturity.
Dog Breeds & Age of Sexual Maturity
Toy, miniature and small dogs with an anticipated adult weight under 45 pounds usually reach sexual maturity at a much younger age than larger breeds do. Toy breeds may reach full maturity at as young as 6 to 9 months, whereas medium to large breeds may not reach maturity until 12 months of age. Giant breeds can take as long as 18 months to reach sexual maturity. This leads many vets to recommend delaying spay and neuter surgeries until an animal reaches maturity.
The Best Time to Spay or Neuter Your Unique Pet
Your vet will understand your pet's development and health status better than anyone and is in the best position to recommend the ideal time to have your pet 'fixd' based on breed, lifestyle and general health.
Here is a 'rule-of-thumb' guideline:
- Small-breed dogs should be fixed at about 5 to 6 months of age.
- Large-breed male dogs should be neutered once growth stops, at between 9 and 15 months of age.
- The decision on when to spay a large-breed female dog should be made between 5 and 15 months of age depending on your dog's disease risk and lifestyle.
What is spaying?
When a female dog is spayed, the vet removes her reproductive organs so that your dog is unable to have puppies.
What is neutering?
When a male dog is neutered, your vet surgically sterilizes your dog by removing his testicles. Neutering will keep your dog from being able to father puppies.
What are the benefits of spaying or neutering my dog?
You can help your female dog live a long, healthy life by spaying her before her first heat. This can prevent serious health conditions such as breast tumors and uterine infections.
Spayed female dogs won't won't go into heat if the surgery is performed while they are young. If your female dog is not spayed, she will typically go into heat every six months, for about 2 to 4 weeks. While your female dog is in heat, she'll excrete a bloody vaginal discharge and may seem clingy, jumpy or edgy.
You can help to prevent testicular cancer and certain prostate problems by neutering your dog early. Neutered male dogs that are neutered are less likely to roam or try to escape from home searching for females. Reduced roaming can help to protect your dog from injuries due to fights with other males, or even traffic accidents.
When male dogs are left unneutered they are more likely to spray urine in the house to mark their territory, mount other dogs or people, and be more aggressive to other dogs.
In the long run, spaying or neutering your puppy could save you money by avoiding costs associated with litters of puppies, treatment for illnesses that could have been avoided by fixing your dog, and treatment of injuries due to roaming and fighting.
Less Pet Overpopulation
The importance of reducing the number of unwanted puppies cannot be overstated. Shelters across the USA are filled with homeless and unwanted dogs. If all pet owners spayed and neutered their dogs, there would be fewer dogs replying to shelters. Fewer unwanted puppies will help to reduce the number of animals living on the streets, and fewer euthanizations.