What's the big deal about spaying and neutering ?
Pet over population! Most people don’t realize how serious this problem is. To say that there are too many pets and not enough homes doesn’t convey the magnitude of the problem. The leading cause of death in pets in the United States is not disease or illness or injury .. it’s being killed in our nation’s pounds and shelters. Seven million dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are killed just because there aren’t enough homes to go around. That’s about five percent of the entire pet population each year. So PLEASE, PLEASE .. spay and neuter your pets!! Encourage everyone you know to do the same. If your pets are spayed & neutered, consider "sponsoring a spay" for someone who cannot afford it.
At what age do you recommend spaying or neutering?
As soon as possible. We schedule our patients to be spayed or neutered at the time of their last puppy or kitten vaccinations (3 - 4 Months). We routinely spay and neuter orphans for humane societies and rescue groups as early as six weeks of age. The younger the patient, the less anesthesia required, the faster the procedure, fewer complications, and a shorter recovery period.
Shouldn't my pet have one heat or litter first?
No - Absolutely Not! This is the most ludicrous, groundless, and harmful old wives tale I have ever heard. Spaying a female before her first heat cuts her chance of breast cancer by over 96%. Breast cancer is very common in older females. Allowing her to have "just one litter" only increases her chance of medical problems, adds to the horrendous overpopulation problem, and causes both her and you a lot of aggravation and expense.
My vet/sister/whoever says you can't spay or neuter pets that young, is this true?
Ten years ago, that was the common belief. In fact, that's what I was taught in veterinary college. Since then numerous studies have proven that our initial concerns about possible ill effects were unfounded. In fact no one seems to know what the old "six months standard" was based on. It is now well documented that these procedures are safe, with no detrimental effects either short or long term. In fact, complication rates are actually lower at seven weeks than at seven months.
That's not what my vet says.
It is not humanly possible for any veterinarian to keep up with all the new research and studies, in all areas, for all species. I assure you, I could not carry on an intelligent conversation about recent advances in equine medicine or cancer chemotherapy. We all tend to keep up with our particular area of interest. This is my area, the research has been done and the facts are in. Pediatric spay/neuter is now covered in standard veterinary textbooks and many veterinary college curriculums. It is state of the art. Please note that spaying and neutering young puppies and kittens is different than performing these procedure on older animals. It does require some special training and adjustments to the techniques normally used. If your vet is interested, I am happy to consult with him or her, and/or provide research data.
Will neutering them so young stunt their growth or change their personalities?
No. A medium sized dog will actually get about 1/32nd of an inch taller. The only change in their personality is that they may act like puppies a little longer. They are no more likely to get fat or have health problems if neutered at seven weeks than at seven months.
I’d like to have my pet spayed or neutered but I’m worried about the anethesia. How risky is it?
There is always some risk involved with general anesthesia for animals as well as humans. Our loss rate is less than one fifth of one percent. The important thing to realize is that the risk of not spaying or neutering is much higher. To loose a pet during a spay or neuter is rare, especially healthy pets. Unspayed and unneutered pets very commonly die from cancer or infections of the reproductive tract. Pets have their own sexually transmitted diseases, some fatal. Many males are killed or injured roaming to look for females or fighting over them. And, dogs and cats can die from complications of giving birth. The risk of not spaying or neutering is far, far greater than the risk of loosing one during the procedure.
~Dr. Tracy Land D.V.M.