So you’ve probably heard that responsible pet parents spay or neuter their pets to help decrease pet overpopulation, to reduce their pet’s risk of certain cancers and to improve their pet’s quality of life. But do you know when this should be done and what to expect?

Generally speaking, it has been the standard recommendation that female pets should be spayed before their first heat cycle, and male pets should be neutered before reaching sexual maturity. And pets can get pregnant much sooner than most people think: as early as 6 months for puppies and a mere 4 months for kittens! More than 70,000 puppies and kittens are born every day, and over half of those are the result of “uh oh” litters. That’s more than 35,000 unplanned pets who now need to find loving homes. There just aren’t enough homes for them all.

However, as with all things relating to your pet’s health, new research and information allows us to better individualize recommendations so they are tailored to your pet’s unique needs. Because anesthesia is involved, your pet may need to be a bit older in order to get to a weight at which it is safe to undergo anesthesia. Or your pet may be giving indications that the onset of sexual maturity is occurring faster than expected, and we may need to schedule earlier than initially thought. Species, breed, family history (if known) and medical history all play a role in determining what the best recommendation for your pet is.

Once under anesthesia, your pet will have the sexual organs removed. These are the ovaries and uterus for females and the testes for males. This procedure not only guarantees your pet will not contribute to the pet overcrowding issue, it also means that it is virtually impossible for your female pet to contract ovarian and uterine cancers or for your male pet to contract testicular cancers. It also helps dramatically reduce the chances of breast cancer in female pets.

Once the procedure is complete, we will safely wake up your pet from anesthesia and monitor to ensure there are no complications. As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications, but spays and neuters are routine surgical procedures, and the risks are quite low, especially compared to the benefits to your pet’s health and the community.

If your pet is still intact, please talk with us about spaying or neutering and whether it is the right choice for your pet and your furry friend?s continued good health.