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How Old is Too Old to Spay or Neuter My Dog

Preventive care is one of the easiest ways that you can help your dog live a long and happy life, how can you know what preventive care your dog needs and when it should be provided. Our Ambler vets discuss why you should spay or neuter your dog and what age is best for them to have this preventive surgery done.

Spay and Neuter Surgery Surgery for Dogs

It is estimated that 6.5 million unwanted animals enter US shelters every year. One essential way to help reduce the number of unwanted pets is to get your dog spayed or neutered.

There are various ways of saying that your dog has been fixed or received reproductive surgery. Below we will discuss each of the terms.

  • Getting your dog 'fixed' means that your pet (male or female) is going to be operated on in order to prevent them from being able to produce puppies. Getting a pet fixed can involve either spaying or neutering.
  • Spaying involves removing a female dog’s reproductive organs via either an ovariectomy (removing only the ovaries) or an ovariohysterectomy (removing both uterus and ovaries). After the vet has spayed your female dog, her heat cycle will be eliminated and she will not be able to have puppies.
  • Neutering is also known as castration and involves a vet removing both testicles, along with their associated structures. Your neutered dog will not be able to reproduce. Though alternative options, such as vasectomies for male dogs (where the tubes that conduct sperm from the testes are severed) are available, they are not usually performed.

Having your dog spayed or neutered can provide a variety of benefits to your dog.

How Old Should Your Dog Be for Spay or Neuter Surgery?

While it has always been commonly believed that all dogs should be spayed or neutered between the ages of 6 to 9 months, in more recent years it has been realized that it is not as straightforward as that and the reproductive schedule for each dog depends on various factors.

What are the risks of spay and neuter surgery?

There is new knowledge related to reproductive surgeries that suggest that spaying or neutering pets at that age could potentially lead to an increased risk of conditions such as joint disorders,  cranial cruciate injuries, and some cancers. These increased levels of health risks appear to be related to how sex hormones affect each animal's musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and immune systems develop, and the age at which different breeds reach sexual maturity. 

How do different breeds factor into spay and neuter surgery?

If you have a dog that is of a smaller breed then they will reach maturity much sooner than a larger breed of dog. Toy breeds only take as little as  6 - 9 months to reach maturity, whereas medium to large breed dogs typically reach maturity around 12 months of age, and giant breeds can take as long as 18 months to reach maturity. This means that while it is generally considered safe for small dogs to be spayed or neutered between 6 -9 months of age, some vets recommend delaying spay and neuter surgeries until the pet reaches maturity.

Your vet will be able to recommend what is best for your dog

If you have a new dog then you should speak with your veterinarian who will be able to recommend the best time to have your dog spayed or neutered based on breed, overall health, and lifestyle. When attending your puppy's early appointments for vaccinations and checkups have frank and open conversations with your pet's veterinarian about the best time to have your dog spayed or neutered and any concerns you may have.

Ensure that you have planned for your dog's spay or neuter surgery

In recent years the number of pets across North America has greatly increased, resulting in the need to plan well ahead of time when it comes to treatments such as spay and neuter operations. As soon as your vet gives you an idea of the best age to get your dog fixed, book your dog's surgery, even if it's months in advance. It is very important to have the spay or neuter done at the earliest possible time in order to avoid complications due to the dog going through reproductive cycles.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have a new dog that will need to have a spay or neuter surgery? Call Spring House Animal Hospital to schedule your dog for a consultation.

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