Most veterinary and animal welfare organizations agree—it is best to spay your female and neuter your male dog or cat. The most important reason? To prevent animal homelessness, which is a huge problem throughout the country. Many people are surprised to learn that nationwide, more than 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters annually. Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100% effective method of birth control for dogs and cats.
The spay procedure is more intense (it is major surgery) than neutering. A spay surgery prevents pregnancy by removing the ovaries and the uterus. Spaying females prior to their first heat cycle nearly eliminates the risk of breast cancer by preventing uterine tumors (which are malignant, or cancerous, in about 50% of dogs and 90% of cats), and spaying prevents uterine infections and uterine cancer.
Some feel that spaying your female animal will make her less likely to roam, but don’t count on it (and always keep your pet on a leash and safely fenced).
The neutering procedure prevents the male’s ability to impregnate a female by removing the testes. Neutering males prevents testicular cancer and enlargement of the prostate gland, and greatly reduces the risk of perianal tumors.
Some feel that neutering male animals will make them less aggressive and less likely to mount. That is not necessarily a fix-all and should not be the only reason to neuter.
Getting your pet spayed or neutered will not change their fundamental nature or personality. If they are barkers, they will stay barkers.
At what age should a dog be spayed or neutered?
Spaying or neutering can be done as early as a few months old, dog owners should consult with their veterinarian to determine the best age to spay or neuter their pet. Many vets in the U.S. recommend spaying or neutering be done between 5 and 9 months of age.
Remember to leave plenty of time for rest and recuperation after surgery and to follow up as instructed.