Spaying and Neutering

SPAYING AND NEUTERING:

It has become more common to do these procedures at an early age (a couple months, or so.)  This is basically a policy decision made by groups whose main focus is lessening pet overpopulation.  The premise is that the general public is to be mistrusted about spaying/neutering their pets and so these procedures are to be done while these agencies still maintain control over the animal.  Whether or not this policy will actually affect pet overpopulation remains to be seen.  This policy is promoted as if there is no downside to this practice.

Holistically speaking, this practice is contrary.  Sexual maturity does not occur for the better part of a year in most dogs.  Many months of “intact” life are possible prior to when these procedures may reasonably be done.  In female dogs, there may be some medical benefit (post spay urinary incontinence issue) to waiting one heat cycle before spaying.  Twenty years ago, before the practice of very early spay/neutering of ferrets was begun at the ferret farms, we rarely saw adrenal tumors in these animals.  Now it is practically an expectation for ferrets to have this problem by 3-4 years of age.

A reasonable compromise to all these considerations is to continue the time-honored practice of performing these procedures at 6 – 8 months of age.  In females, the chance of breast cancer and pyometra is greatly reduced and in males the chance of prostatic issues and certain behavioral issues are greatly reduced.  There is not much rationale to keeping non-breeding animals intact for more than a year, from a medical point of view.