Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures intended to render your pet incapable of producing puppies or kittens by removing the organs of reproduction unless it is evaluated as a satisfactory animal to carry on a specific breed line. The AVMA's stance is that any dog or cat not intended for breeding should be spayed or neutered.

Spaying, a term that refers to the female, is a procedure to remove the uterus and ovaries and is most comparable to a human hysterectomy. Neutering or castration is a term that refers to the removal of the male’s testicles.

Although the main reason to spay or neuter your pet is to prevent unwanted puppies or kittens, there are other benefits.

For the owner of the female, it eliminates the need to deal with messy heat cycles, prevents infections and cancers of the uterus and ovaries, and later in life, mammary cancer. They are also less likely to roam, finding an un-neutered male.

For the owner of the male, it prevents marking and spraying behaviors, and behaviors such as fence jumping and pursuing females in heat, as well as some cancers.

Will My Pet Act Differently?

Spaying and neutering do cause some behavioral changes, although typically your pet’s personality will not change. Here is what to expect:

  • Less aggression in male dogs, and less howling
  • Calmer disposition in both dogs and cats
  • The substantial decrease in spraying by male cats
  • Cats and dogs require fewer calories, yet do not automatically gain a lot of weight

Many pet owners are understandably attracted to the idea of having a litter of puppies or kittens. Who doesn’t love them? But many times the reality does not live up to the expectations.

The expense of an unplanned Caesarian or other complication of pregnancy, the illness or even death of the offspring. The frustration of not having homes for all the babies. The guilt at having to take them to the Humane Society, or the expense of keeping them. With an estimated 70 million homeless animals in America today, the best plan is to have your pet spayed or neutered unless the animal has been determined to be valuable to carry on a breed line.

So When To Have Surgery?

Most commonly it is recommended at about six to seven months of age. There is a lot of controversy in this area though. Some poorly designed studies have suggested delaying spaying or neutering pets. Our veterinarians can discuss this further at your pet's first or next appointment. As for cats, the recommendation is to spay or neuter before 5 months of age. Click here to read more about why it is beneficial.

Some dog breeders will recommend later than 6-7 months for "conformation" desires. In actuality, it can be done as early as eight weeks, but this is mostly reserved for shelter animals. The longer you wait the greater the risk of accidental pregnancy.

It is also an old wives tale that females need to have a litter prior to being spayed.

Although these procedures are considered routine, they are in fact major surgery. During the procedure, your pet will be fully anesthetized and will not experience any discomfort. Both before and after surgery, multimodal pain is provided to aid in the recovery and your pet is generally ready to go home the same afternoon.