You may have commonly heard the words, “I neutered/spayed my dog/cat.” What do these words mean? The procedure of neutering your male pet is also known as ‘castration’. When you spay your female pet, veterinarians refer to this term medically as an ‘ovariohysterectomy’.
Choosing to neuter or spay your pet exhibits many benefits over time. Both operations demonstrate positive outcomes in regards to health concerns and behavioral mannerisms. Studies have shown that neutering can potentially aid in preventing prostate related illness and testicular cancer in male animals.
Normally, intact, male pets are prone to wander outside of your perimeters, in order to find companionship with female animals. By neutering, you will see behavior wise, your male dog or cat will less likely run away from home; making them less prone to being involved with traffic accidents or contact with strays. Neutering also helps to control dominance issues in male animals. Intact dogs and cats are known to display mannerisms in which they spray foul smelling urine on furniture in the house or walls.
You may notice your intact dog trying to mate with other dogs in the neighborhood, your friends or even your leg! These concerns, along with progressive aggression, can diminish by neutering your pet! Spaying can prevent a number of potential health issues: infections in the uterine tract, cancerous breast tumors, heat prevention, etc. It is best to spay your pet before her first heat cycle (approximately at 4 – 5 months of age) in order to avoid any excess urination sprayed onto your furniture at home to attract males! You may neuter your dog or cat at the early age of 4 – 5 months as well.
There is also a procedure known as a pediatric spay or neuter. This can be done on puppies and kittens at the age of 8 weeks – 16 weeks (along with a minimum weight requirement of at least 1kg). Many studies have been conducted over the years that show that this is an appropriate age to do such procedures without any common complications occurring. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has approved of this procedure medically in 1994, and then revised and approved this policy again in 1999 and 2004. The BC SPCA also recommends for owners to consider pediatric neuter/spay to prevent excessive litter counts before adoption occurs. However, it is ultimately up to your veterinarian to decide if your individual pet is an appropriate candidate for such an early procedure.
Dr. H. Bhullar DVM and
4th year student Atlantic
Veterinary College, University of P.E.I