Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pet Health Tip #8- Should you spay/neuter your pet?

A major decision that you have to make for your pet is whether or not you are going to have him or her spayed or neutered.  So, should you spay or neuter your pet? Absolutely!

Multiple benefits result from spaying or neutering your pet.  All of these benefits add up to one thing: your pet will live significantly longer.

For female dogs: Each time a female dog goes through a heat cycle, her chance of developing breast cancer increases.  Therefore, it is important to have your female dog spayed prior to her first heat cycle (approx. six months old).  Another major benefit is that the older your female dog gets, the greater her chance for developing a uterine infection (pyometra).  Pyometra can be life-threatening.  The treatment is to have the dog spayed.  The risk of surgery is much greater when you have an infection involved.  So, get your dog spayed before the pyometra develops!

For male dogs: Intact male dogs are at a much higher risk of developing prostate cancer than neutered dogs.  Also, intact male dogs can develop testicular cancer.  Finally, intact males are more likely to wander away from home, increasing the likelihood they will be involved in an accident (i.e. hit by a car) or become lost.

So, as you can see, there are definite health benefits to having your pet spayed or neutered.  But, again, your bottom line is that they will live significantly longer.  We do not have them for very long as it is, so why wouldn't you want to extend that time?

Another point to consider is at what age they should be spayed or neutered.  I am a big supporter of pediatric spays and neuters.  These surgeries are performed at 10-12 weeks of age.  As long as the pet is over 2 lbs, then they can undergo the surgery.  Puppies that are spayed or neutered at this young age heal much faster than older puppies.  I worked in an animal shelter and performed thousands of pediatric spays and neuters.  It is amazing how quickly these puppies heal.  They are up and moving right after the anesthesia wears off, and the incision is gone within a few days.

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