Greetings Page community and surrounding areas from your friendly neighborhood veterinarian! Spay and neuter will be the topic of choice this month. As animal shelters throughout the nation continue to exceed their capacities and with unnecessary animal euthanasia on the rise, I hope that every pet owner will seriously consider the spay and neuter option.
The term spay, in the United States at least, refers to the surgical removal of ovaries and uterus, aka ovariohysterectomy. The term neuter commonly refers to the surgical removal of both testicles, aka orchiectomy. This is often referred to as castration. The term neuter can appropriately be used for both females and males. These procedures render both female and male-sterile and unable to reproduce.
There are definitely great health benefits to having your pet neutered. Neutered males have a decreased risk of prostatic disease, anal gland cancer, and obviously no risk of testicular cancer. Spayed females, when spayed before multiple heat cycles will have a smaller risk of developing mammary cancer and no risk of uterine or ovarian disease. Pyometra is a severe infection of the uterus that can become critical very fast and fatal if not treated. When performed correctly, spaying would mitigate all risk of pyometra. Other health benefits for females include reduced vaginal disease and diseases associated with pregnancy and giving birth.
In regards to the age of neutering, at this point in the veterinary world, the jury is not out yet. Long-term research studies are currently lacking in quality and size, and too many variables make data difficult to interpret. Due to the multitude of varying breeds and sizes of animals, it is best to consult with your local veterinarian to determine the most appropriate age for your pet. But typically, it is recommended that cats are neutered after they have finished all kitten vaccinations which would be around 4 months of age or older. As a rule of thumb, medium to small-sized dogs are neutered starting at 6 months of age or older. I typically recommend that larger breeds are neutered later to help reduce the potential risk of orthopedic disease. Shelter animals may be neutered even earlier for population control and animal welfare concerns. In general, neutered pets live longer because they are less prone to injuries associated with roaming and reduced risk of disease transmission associated with mating and fighting.
The pros of neutering definitely outweigh the cons, but there are some things to consider. The best evidence-based risk factor of neutering is weight gain and obesity. So, after neutering please watch the treats and the kibble! There may be some evidence of increased risk of developing urinary tract disorders in neutered pets. There is an association between neutered dogs and hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament disease. Please discuss all risks with your veterinarian as these topics can be complicated and variable. As new evidence becomes available, guidelines for neutering will likely mold over time. Stay up-to-date with your local veterinary team.
The surgical procedures for neutering are quite simple and safe in the hands of an experienced veterinary surgeon and attentive staff like we have here at Page Animal Hospital. If you are not planning on breeding your pet, please make neutering a priority and do your part to combat overpopulation. When calling to schedule any surgical procedure, please ask our staff about the benefits of laser surgery and laser healing. If you have any questions regarding your pet’s health and safety, please don’t hesitate to call us at the Page Animal Hospital (928) 645-2816.
Bret the Vet