Weighing Options: A Spay and Neuter Guide For Dog Owners

It is most common for dog owners to spay or neuter their dogs. Statistics indicate that nearly 80% of dogs are spayed or neutered, which helps control the animal population, mitigates unwanted or negative behaviors, and — research suggests — prevents the onset of certain diseases


Without a doubt, spay and neuter procedures have their benefits.


Spaying and neutering is also an unspoken sign of responsible pet ownership, and is often required of dogs when they are participating in daycare programs or staying at kennels. While the choice to spay or neuter a dog is entirely up to the owner, there are a number of factors to consider beyond the actual choice to schedule the often complication-free procedure. 


Timing Spay & Neuter Just Right


Previously, recommendations regarding the timing of spay and neuter procedures were relatively young — between four and six months — as veterinarians and animal shelters attempted to tag-team an epidemic of unwanted animals. While fewer animals are being euthanized now than were previously, statistics indicate that 1.5 million unwanted animals are still euthanized every year.


Newer research suggests that the appropriate age for spay and neuter may depend on the dog’s breed. Because sex hormones are linked to an animal’s development, spaying or neutering a dog too young could affect its growth and development for the long term, to include its physical development as well as its psychological and cardiovascular development and its immune system.


The American Kennel Club recommends that toy breeds, such as chihuahuas, maltese and pugs, can be spayed or neutered as young as six months. However, large and giant breeds, such as mastiffs, great danes and golden retrievers, should wait until they are 16 to 18 months old. 


When it comes to spaying female dogs, experts — like the veterinarians at Dr. Kelly’s Vet — recommend the procedure take place before the animal’s first heat, which usually means by six months of age.


Factoring Weight And Age


While recommendations for spaying and neutering factor in breeds and sizes of animals, most also suggest that pet owners get the procedure done as young as possible. Despite that, there is no actual age limit on when a spay or neuter can occur. Veterinarians generally avoid spaying while a dog is in heat, to mitigate the potential for excessive bleeding, but otherwise healthy dogs can still safely have the procedure done even if they aren’t considered puppies anymore. 


The weight of a dog can play a factor in how a spay or neuter procedure goes. Since most dogs getting spayed or neutered are young and likely fit, weight is a less common issue. But, in older dogs that may consume more calories than they burn, weight can add a complication to the actual spay and neuter procedure, creating an elevated risk for bleeding.


If this is a concern for your dog, consult with a veterinarian at Dr. Kelly’s Vet to discuss options. And, while many dog owners insist that spaying and neutering leads to weight gain in their pups, that result is up for debate. 


Dogs are still maturing and growing into their bodies when they are spayed or neutered if they undergo the procedure at the youngest age as is recommended for their breed, so it’s entirely possible that weight gain may be associated with that growth. And, it’s also possible that dog owners may be feeding their pups a little too much for their activity level, leading to weight gain. 

If you’re a dog owner considering a spay or neuter for your pet, get your questions and concerns answered by one of the surgical veterinary specialists at Dr. Kelly’s Vet. Book your appointment using our online booking tool, or by calling/texting. 

Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit is a trusted veterinary team serving the Phoenix, Peoria, East Mesa and Tucson metro areas, with accessible locations in each market, offering highly specialized surgery, quality spay and neuter procedures, and accessible dental care for pets. Contact us to learn more about our specialized services or to schedule an appointment. 

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