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When should an animal be spayed or neutered?

Most pets, should be spayed or neutered between 4 & 6 months of age. Ideally, most cats and dogs should be spayed/neutered before puberty (6 months of age) to maximize the health and behavioral benefits. One possible exception to this rule are large breed puppies. Recent studies have shown that large breed dogs should wait to be spayed or neutered until 10 to 12 months of age for females and 18 months of age for males to help reduce the risk of hip dysplasia and other health problems. Older animals should be spayed/neutered as soon as possible to reduce the risk of health problems and unwanted pregnancy. Breeding animals should be spayed/neutered when their last litter is weaned. Appropriate vaccinations and preoperative blood work should be performed prior to surgery.

Myths About Spaying and Neutering

My dog will be less protective.

It is instinctive for dogs to protect the home and family. Their personality is formed more by genetics and environment then sex hormones. However, inappropriate aggression, especially toward other animals, may be reduced by spaying/neutering.

It is better for a female to have a litter first.

It has been proven that spaying prior to puberty (the first heat cycle) reduces the risk of breast cancer by up to 99.8%. The cost associated with having a litter may be high, especially if there are any complications or a C-section is performed. Litter sizes may be large and finding homes for all of the puppies or kittens may be difficult.

My dog or cat will get fat.

The hormonal changes associated with spaying or neutering do reduce the animal's metabolic rate by about 30%. The solution is to feed them 30% less food than they ate prior to surgery and provide plenty of exercise. Even intact animals may become obese if they are fed too much and do not get enough exercise.

My male pet will feel less manly.

Pets don't have any concept of sexual identity or ego. Neutering will not change a pet's basic personality. He doesn't suffer any kind of emotional reaction or identity crisis when neutered. However, neutering may reduce undesirable behaviors, such as urine marking or mounting.

My pet is so special, I want a puppy or kitten just like him or her.

Your pet's puppies or kittens are unlikely to be carbon copies of your pet. Even professional breeders cannot make this guarantee. There are shelter pets waiting for homes who are just as cute, smart, sweet and loving as your own.

My animal should not be fixed because it is purebred.

An estimated 1 out of 4 shelter animals are purebred. There may not be a demand for certain breeds in your area. Only animals who are a good representation of their breed (see AKC guidelines) and have no history of hereditary medical problems should be bred. If you are not going to breed your pet, then it should be spayed/neutered.

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