As of this moment, this is a hot topic, and solid answers are hard to come by. There have been new studies, and revisiting of old studies.. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to give exact guidelines.

Currently (as of September, 2018, these are our recommendations:

Cats: 5-6 months.

Dogs: General recommendations listed first, followed by breed specific recommendations Spay- Female (ovariohysterectomy)- 7-12 months of age Neuter- Male- 16-18 months

Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers: Females- 10-12 months Males- 16 months

Vizlas: Males and Females- 10-12 months

Female dogs tend to have their first heat cycle anywhere from 7-13 months of age. The “heat cycle” of the female dog lasts 21 days. There is usually about 10 days of blood tinged vaginal discharge. This is the only time the female dog is receptive to the male, and open to reproduction.

The above recommendations are based off our doctors current best assessment of the literature available.

PREVENT REPRODUCTION: Probably the biggest benefit of spaying/neutering your pet is to prevent the continued population explosion of strays, which unfortunately leads to over crowded animal care facilities.  Euthanizing healthy animals because of overpopulation continues to happen.  If we didn’t routinely spay or neuter our pets, it is obvious that “accidental” litters would happen with far more frequency.

PREVENT CANCER: Spaying a female dog prior to her first heat cycle will reduce the risk of mammary cancer by 99%.   There is also association with decreased risk of cancers like lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, and mast cell tumors if they are spayed prior to a year of age. (Male dogs however, get more cancer protection from neutering AFTER 1 year of age-excpet in Vizlas).

BEHAVIOR:  Neutered males have far less testosterone.  They tend to roam less, and they have less aggression toward people and other dogs.

THE TRADE OFF:  Spaying before one year of age can make dogs more prone to orthopedic issues such as hip dysplasia and ACL injuries. Labrador retrievers spayed at less than a year old had a higher percentage of hip dysplasia as compared to Labrador retrievers spayed after two years of age or that remained intact. However, no difference was noted in the percentage of hip dysplasia in Golden Retrievers regardless of how old the animal was during the spay procedure. However, it was noted that female dogs spayed less than 1 year of age did have a higher percentage of ACL injuries as compared to dogs that were spayed later in life.

In males, the recommendations regarding neutering differ from their female counterparts.

To have a protective effect against certain cancers like lymphoma, mast cell tumors and osteosarcomas in Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers, neutering should be performed after 1 year of age. However, in Vizlas, the recommendation is to perform surgery before 1 year of age to be protective against lymphoma and mast cell tumors.

Regarding orthopedic issues, the general recommendation is to neuter dogs after one year of age to be protective against hip dysplasia and ACL injuries. However, in Labrador Retrievers, no difference in the occurrence of hip dyplasia was noted between dogs that were neutered later in life as compared to early on.

Given the difference between breeds as well as males/females, it is difficult to extrapolate general population recommendations from breed specific studies. With the current information available, we can try to make the best possible recommendations regarding spay/neuter ages; however this is an area where further research is required. In general, we would recommend spaying female dogs less than one year of age and neutering male dogs over one year of age unless otherwise contraindicated by breed specific studies.

We expect new information as studied continue to look for the best recommendations to keep your pet as healthy as possible.  If you have questions, ask us.  There is a lot of information that has no scientific backing presented on various blog sties and webpages.  Know your source, and make good choices based on REAL information.

I need my pet to be either spayed or castrated. How do I know which procedure is appropriate for my companion?

If your pet is a female, she will undergo a spay procedure. If your pet is male, he will be neutered. Both procedures are irreversible, and your pet will not be able to have offspring.

I want to spay/neuter my pet, but it’s too expensive for me at this time. What can I do?

February is our spay and neuter month! In February, we offer a $40.00 discount on all spay/neuter procedures. This discount is limited to 2 pets per household. We also work with Care Credit. Please visit their website to apply. Please call our office at 708.361.6002 to schedule your appointment because they book up fast.

What are the benefits of spaying or castrating my animal?

In females, you will be reducing your pet’s risk of breast and reproductive cancer. Uterine infection will also be eliminated in spayed animals. In males, you will be preventing the risk of testicular cancer. This means, you will have happier, healthier years with your friend.

You will not be contributing to the pet population problem. Many animals that can not find homes end up in shelters or running the streets. If an animal ends up in a shelter, he or she could be euthanized. If the animal becomes a stray, he or she will continue to breed, and add more strays to the world.

Will my male dog be less “manly” or will her personality be changed by being spayed?

Humans are great at expressing their feelings through their animal companion and confusing our definitions of sexuality with animal hormones and instincts. Please be assured that your pet will not have any negative emotional reactions or have an identity crisis because they are altered.

A castrated male will be better behaved. He will not try to escape the house to find a mate, he will not mark territory, and some aggression problems may be avoided if he is castrated on or after 6 months of age.

Shouldn’t I let my pet have a heat cycle first?

Female felines can go into heat four to five days every three weeks during their breeding season. Your female cat may also urinate more often, and may decide to urinate out of her litter box.

Female dogs can go into heat every 6 months, and the cycle can last for 21 days.

If you have further questions regarding some “myths” about spay or castrating, please call our office or visit the ASPCA or Placer SPCA websites.

Is spaying and neutering a major surgery?

Yes; anytime we place your pet under anesthesia, can be considered a “major surgery”. We understand your concern with your loved one going under anesthesia, so please, call our office, so we can discuss the precautions.

Why is pre-anesthetic blood work required?

Pre-anesthetic blood work helps to check that your pet’s kidney and liver are working properly. The liver and kidneys help break down and remove the anesthetics. If they aren’t working well, then anesthesia may be more of a risk.

Will my pet spend the night after the operation?

If you animal is only spayed or castrated, they will be able to go home with you the same day. We schedule release appointments after 3 p.m. The only time a cat stays over night is when a cat is de-clawed with the spay or castration procedure. The cat will stay at the hospital for two days, with personalized nursing care.

How long will the procedure take?

The actually surgery will only take about 20 minutes to 1 hour depending on the animal, however, expect your pet to be at our office for almost the entire day. We like to take the best care of your pet, and we need the time to do so. We ask for you to drop your pet off at the clinic, between 7:15a and 8:00a.

What can I expect?

Your pet cannot eat any food on the day of the surgery. Please do not feed your pet after 10:00p the night before the surgery. Just like in humans, anesthesia can cause nausea, which can lead to vomiting. You are able to give your pet water until he or she arrives in our office. If you have further questions regarding this topic, please don’t hesitate to call our office.

We want them early, so the technicians and doctors have time for a full pre-surgical exam and blood work. This exam and blood work insures your pet is healthy to undergo the spay or castration. All procedures start between 9:00a and 10:00a. Once the procedure is finished, a technician will give you a call and briefly discuss how your furry friend did. At that time, the technician will also set up a release appointment.  These appointments are generally after 3:00p. We want to make sure that your pet is fully awake from the anesthesia and ready to go home when you arrive in our office. Once you arrive in our office for the release appointment, one of our receptionists will escort you to our consultation room. In the room, a technician will address the release instructions and answer any questions that you may have. You will then revisit the front desk, where you will be checked out, and your beloved pet will be happy to go home with you.

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