While experts disagree slightly on the number of homeless companion animals that are euthanized in the United States each year for a lack of loving homes, the numbers are in the range of several million dogs and cats. Obviously, one of the best ways to control pet over-population is to spay female cats and dogs, and neuter male cats and dogs. For many years, pet owners and veterinarians have been taught that dogs and cats must be at least six months of age before they may be spayed or neutered. However, with advances in veterinary medicine and research, many governing bodies in the veterinary medicine community are teaching that this standard is out-of-date.
The Six Month Myth
For many years, the standard has been no spay or neuter before six months of age. Many veterinarians and pet parents mistakenly believed that allowing a female dog or cat to endure at least once heat cycle was healthier for the pet. However, research has now shown that puppies and kittens may be sterilized as young as six weeks of age. This process is called Pediatric Spay and Neuter, or Juvenile Spay and Neuter.
When pets are spayed or neutered at an early age, the surgery takes less time and is easier for veterinarians to perform. There is less recovery time needed, as the pet's body is more resilient. The pet also feels less stress and there is less chance of physiological trauma for the pet. In addition, early spay and neuter surgeries are less expensive for pet parents.
Other Health Benefits of Early Spay/Neuter
The early spaying and neutering of pets does more than control the pet over-population epidemic; these surgeries also provide health benefits to the individual animal. Veterinarians now recommend that female pets be spayed prior to the initial heat cycle, which generally occurs around six months of age. Female cats and dogs have less instances of mammary cancer and tumors if they are spayed at an early age. If spayed before the first heat cycle, this risk is nearly eliminated.
The risk of uterine cancers and infections such as pyometra--which can be deadly if not treated very quickly--are also eliminated in pets that are spayed at an early age. For male dogs and cats, early neutering also carries health benefits. The risk of testicular cancer is obviously eliminated. Behavioral problems, such as aggression, wandering away from home, and marking territory are also reduced in pets that are spayed and neutered early. Contact a company like Covington Veterinary Hospital PC for more information.