“Early” Spay/Neuter by Amy
March 17, 2009, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Executive Director | Tags: , , , , ,

Years ago, veterinarians regularly advised pet owners to put off spay/neuter until their pet was at least six months old, or allow females to go through one “heat cycle,” or even have a litter first.  These views are pretty outdated these days, and “early” spay/neuter is now supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association.  At EMANCIPE+, we have encouraged early spay/neuter for years.  Our vets regularly sterilize kittens and puppies as young as three months old (provided they weigh at least three pounds) and have witnessed first hand the benefits of early sterilization.

Dr. Kimberly Bodner, our Interim Medical Director, recently shared with me her personal observations about spaying and neutering puppies and kittens under 5 months old.  She says, “the differences we observe with surgery recovery with our pediatric patients compared to adult dogs and cats are amazing.  The young patients wake up quicker and with much less discomfort.  They are ready to eat and go home in just a few hours!  This is likely due to the decreased time these animals are under anesthesia and the decreased bleeding and tissue manipulation involved in their very quick surgeries.”

Her experience and observation are backed up by over two decades of retrospective research.  Dr. Bodner explains it like this:  “Recent research has calmed the fears of those concerned about any immediate or future health risks of early spay/neuter.  For instance, we now know that there is no medical evidence to justify allowing a dog or cat to have a litter or even have one heat cycle before being spayed.  In fact, a female dog or cat has the best chances of good health if spayed well before her first heat; her risk of developing malignant breast cancer is almost eliminated, and her chances of developing ovarian cancer or fatal uterine infections is taken down to zero.  Males also have health benefits associated with early neutering, such as a decreased incidence of testicular cancer, prostate enlargement and cancer, and certain types of hernias.”

Two of my own dogs, Banjo and Angus, were spayed at nine weeks old by Dr. Williams at EMANCIPE+.  By the end of the day, they were up, alert, and ready to go on to more important things like finding where I hid the dirty laundry basket.  I guess with spay/neuter, as with so many things in life – sooner is better than later.


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Now if we can just convince all the vets (especially the local ones) to stop telling our adopters to wait, then we’ll be in business!

Comment by Heidi

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