For a long time, veterinarians have been suggesting that early spaying and neutering is the best way to control unplanned pregnancies, as well as protect your dog’s health from the young age. Various researches conducted in the past revealed that the surgery of spaying/neutering had numerous health benefits for pets. Naturally, these findings made these surgeries a popular choice among dog-owners and vets around the world.
Recently, however, vets and scientists have been researching the health changes in dogs after being spayed/neutered at a young age, and they came up to completely different conclusions. First of all, they are suggesting that spay/neutering at a very early age (around 4 weeks to 6 months) is not only unnecessary, but it can also harm a dog’s health in future.
While in the past sterilizing procedures were seen as completely beneficial for both dogs and their owners, today, there is a lot of debate around the best age to spay and neuter a dog, as well as if you should spay/neuter or not.
What is Spaying/Neutering?
Spaying is also known as an ovariohysterectomy, which is basically a surgical procedure of removal of the female dog’s ovaries and uterus. On the other hand, neutering is actually a castration or the surgery that removes the testicles of a male dog.
These surgeries are performed under total anesthesia in order to make sure dogs don’t feel any discomfort. When the surgery is over, a dog can feel slightly dizzy until anesthesia is completely out of the blood system.
Should You Spay/Neuter Your Dog?
Let’s take a look at this matter from a human point of view first.
Spaying a female dog that lives in human living environment is a quite convenient thing to do for multiple reasons. First of all, female dogs have around two heat cycles each year that can last from 2 to 4 weeks. While there are different ways you can make these cycles easier for yourself and your dog, they can get pretty messy both indoors and outdoors.
Not only you won’t have to deal with blood discharge, diapers, etc twice a year if you spay your dog, but you will also protect her from male dogs that will try to mate with her whenever in heat.
Neutering a male dog, on the other hand, has different benefits. Intact males are usually more aggressive toward other dogs, have a stronger urge to leave urine marks wherever possible and generally need more exercise in order not to be pent-up with energy. By neutering your male dog, your home won’t smell of pee. You will have a calmer dog that would be more easygoing toward other dogs in general, and he won’t have the urge to roam around or escape home when his hormones kick in.
Now let’s see what benefits and adverse effects these sterilizing procedures have on our pets.
It was found that spaying females results in a decreased risk of several types of cancer (usually the ones that are associated with reproductive organs). On the other hand, recent researches have pointed out that spaying dogs at an early age might actually lead to the development of other diseases and conditions (especially the ones associated with bones).
Similarly, neutering male dogs results in a decreased risk of developing testicle cancer, which isn’t surprising considering the fact that their testicles are actually removed. On the other hand, some researches have connected neutering with a higher chance of developing hypothyroidism, obesity, orthopedic disorders, and cognitive impairment.
Read also: Why Should You Spay/Neuter
So, When It Is The Right Time To Sterilize Your Dog?
The answer to this question isn’t an easy one. As we already mentioned, opinions on this matter differ by a lot. However, it is becoming more and more common to wait until puppies reach the age of at least 6 months before desexing them.
There are also some veterinarians suggesting that the sex and the size of the pets should be taken into consideration before deciding to spay/neuter. According to this point of view, it is important to wait until dogs are fully grown because desexing them at an earlier age might result in orthopedical problems once they grow up. Following this logic, the best age to neuter/spay your dog is actually around the best age your dog should be bred (around 18-24 months of age).
Therefore, sterilizing surgeries at a younger age than 6 months is not something we would suggest. However, make sure you do your research on the matter before finally deciding, as neutering/spaying can definitely bring some benefits, but it can bring some adverse effects too.