Spaying and neutering have enough medical and behavioral benefits that veterinarians routinely include them in their overall health care recommendations to pet owners. Today, however, the question is not just whether to perform surgery, but when.
Past recommendations by veterinarians have been sterilization at 6-12 months, but studies in the last 10-15 years have changed the professional’s view of this recommendation. Additional unexpected benefits have arisen from prepubertal neutering such as:
- Dogs live 1-3 years longer and cats live 3-5 years longer if they were neutered prior to reaching maturity.
- Certain cancers are sharply decreased.
- Common medical problems such as tumors, cysts, and hernias are reduced.
- Higher metabolic rates allow for swifter recovery and less bleeding during surgery in younger animals.
- Some evidence shows positive socialization and behavior effects from early age sterilization.
- Dogs neutered under 6 months develop less obesity and don’t establish some of the “male” behaviors that neutering is meant to treat. They are also less likely to jump a fence, fight, or get hit by a car.
- Spaying females before 6 months is less controversial than neutering; preventing the first heat nearly eliminates the risk of breast cancer which is much more common than bone cancer.
For more information on what is the correct age to spay or neuter your dog or cat, please visit the ASPCA’s website