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When to Spay or Neuter a Dog

Having your dog spayed or neutered is a great way to help to reduce the number of unwanted animals in Seattle shelters, but these common veterinary surgeries can also help to curb undesirable behaviors and even reduce the risk of certain diseases. Below, our vets discuss the best time to get your dog spayed or neutered, and more.

Getting Your Dog 'Fixed'

An estimated 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 a number of terms used when discussing surgeries used to sterilize pets, so let's begin by clarifying what we are discussing in this article.

  • 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 which conduct sperm from the testes are severed) are available, they are not usually performed.

Wondering what the benefits of having your dog spayed or neutered are? Learn more about HERE.

Determining The Best Age to Spay or Neuter Your Dog

Our vets are often asked, "When should I neuter my dog?".

Up until recently, it has been generally accepted that dogs should be spayed or neutered when they are between 6 - 9 months of age, however, more and more often that advice is being questioned.

Possible Risks Associated with Spaying & Neutering

Some recent studies appear to show that for some breeds, spaying or neutering pets at that young age may 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. 

Age of Maturity In Different Breeds

Toy, miniature and small dogs reach maturity at a much younger age than larger breeds. In fact, toy breeds can reach full maturity as young as 6 - 9 months, 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.

The Best Age To Spay or Neuter Your Cherished Pup

Your vet understands your pet's health better than anyone and is typically in the best position to recommend the ideal time to get your pet 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.

Planning For Your Puppy's Spay or Neuter Surgery

Over the past few 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. Booking your dog's appointment last minute can result in long delays leading to female pet's going into heat cycles, the development of undesirable behaviors, or unplanned puppies.

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.

Is it time to get your dog fixed? Contact our experienced Seattle vets today to learn more about getting your dog spayed or neutered at Northgate Veterinary Clinic. 

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