Feb 27, 2017
Welcome to Bark & Wag 15 Minute Vet Talk – I am your host
Today we are talking to one of our favorite Vets, Dr. Laura
Brown, owner of Green Tree Animal Hospital in Libertyville, IL,
about spaying or neutering your pet and when is the best time to do
By spaying or neutering your pet, you’ll help control the pet
homelessness crisis, which results in millions of healthy dogs and
cats being euthanized in the United States each year simply because
there aren’t enough homes to go around. There are also medical and
behavioral benefits to spaying (female pets) and neutering (male
pets) your animals.
Here are some of the medical benefits:
- Your female pet will live a longer, healthier
life. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast
tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50 percent of
dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat
offers the best protection from these diseases.
- Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and
some prostate problems.
And behavioral benefits:
- Your spayed female pet won't go into heat. While cycles
can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days
every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise
for mates, they'll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all
over the house!
- Your male dog will be less likely to roam away from
home. An intact male will do just about anything to find a
mate, including finding creative ways escape from the house. Once
he's free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other
- Your neutered male may be better behaved. Unneutered dogs
and cats are more likely to mark their territory by spraying
strong-smelling urine all over the house. Your dog might be less
likely to mount other dogs, people and inanimate objects after he’s
neutered. Some aggression problems may be avoided by early
Spaying/neutering your pets is also highly
cost-effective. The cost of your pet's spay/neuter surgery is
far less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. How much
does it cost to spay or neuter your pet?
Debunking Spay/Neuter Myths and Misconceptions
- Spaying or neutering will not cause your pet to become
overweight. Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to
pack on the extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit
and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor
her food intake.
- Neutering is not as a quick fix for all behavior
problems. Although neutering your pet often reduces
undesirable behaviors caused by a higher level of testosterone,
there’s no guarantee that your dog’s behavior will change after
he’s neutered. Although the surgery will reduce the amount of
testosterone in your dog’s system, it won’t eliminate the hormone
completely. Neutering will also not reduce behaviors that your pet
has earned or that have become habitual. The effects of neutering
are largely dependent on your dog’s individual personality,
physiology and history.
When to Spay or Neuter Your Pet
- For dogs: While the traditional age for neutering is six
to nine months, puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered
as long as they’re healthy. Dogs can be neutered as adults as well,
although there’s a slightly higher risk of post-operative
complications in older dogs, dogs that are overweight or dogs that
have health problems.
- For cats: It is generally considered safe for kittens as
young as eight weeks old to be spayed or neutered. In animal
shelters, surgery is often performed at this time so that kittens
can be sterilized prior to adoption. In an effort to avoid the
start of urine spraying and eliminate the chance for pregnancy,
it’s advisable to schedule the surgery before your own cat reaches
five months of age. It’s possible to spay a female cat while she’s
Talk to your veterinarian to determine the best time to spay or
neuter your pet.
Helping Your Pet Before and After Surgery
Your veterinary clinic will provide pre-surgical advice that you
should follow. In general, avoid giving your cat any food after
midnight the night before surgery. A puppy or kitten, however,
needs adequate nutrition, and your veterinarian may advise that
food not be withheld.
Your veterinarian can also provide post-operative instructions
for you to follow. Although your pet may experience some discomfort
after surgery, your veterinarian can take various measures to
control pain. Depending on the procedure performed, medication for
pain may be sent home with your pet.
Here are tips for a safe and comfortable recovery:
- Provide your pet with a quiet place to recover indoors and away
from other animals.
- Prevent your pet from running and jumping for up to two weeks
following surgery, or as long as your veterinarian recommends.
- Prevent your pet from licking the incision site, which may
cause infection, by distracting your pet with treats or by using an
- Avoid bathing your pet for at least ten days after
- Check the incision site daily to confirm proper healing.
If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge at the surgery
site, or if the incision is open, please contact your veterinarian.
Also call your veterinarian if your pet is lethargic, has a
decreased appetite, is vomiting or has diarrhea or any other
concerns following surgery.
Please visit our Low-Cost
Spay/Neuter Programs page to find spay/neuter options in