What Age Should My Dog Get Spayed/Neutered?

dog in a cone

In the U.S., it is now standard to have household dogs and cats spayed or neutered. A recent American Pet Products Association survey shows that 78 percent of dog-owning households have spayed or neutered dogs. This widespread practice aims to reduce the number of unwanted animals on the streets.

Studies estimate that 6.5 million animals enter U.S. animal shelters annually, with 1.5 million of them euthanized. While there has been a significant decrease in euthanasia rates in recent years, there is still a strong case for routinely spaying and neutering pets.

What Is Pet Neutering and Spaying?

Pet neutering and spaying are surgical procedures that alter an animal's reproductive organs. The surgical removal of a male animal's testicles, also known as castration, results in sterilization.

Spaying is the removal of the ovaries and uterus of a female animal by surgical method. It is also known as an ovariohysterectomy and also results in sterilization. These procedures typically occur while the animal is under general anesthesia.

Benefits of Neutering/Spaying Your Dog

  • Health benefits: Neutering your dog may reduce your canine companion's risk of certain types of cancer and other reproductive disorders. For example, it can significantly reduce the risk of testicular cancer and prostate problems

  • Population control: Neutering your dog can help reduce unwanted litter and stray animals, aiding in pet population control

  • Sterilizing your dog may help reduce aggressive behavior, such as territorial marking and fighting. That can make him/her more tolerable and may lower the risk of injuries from fights or other aggressive behavior

  • Convenience: Sterilizing your furry friend will prevent him/her from reproducing, which can be convenient if you want to avoid dealing with the responsibilities of breeding

When to Spay/Neuter Your Dog

Male Dog Neutering

Veterinarians generally recommend neutering male dogs around six months of age, but some breeds should wait until closer to a year of age. That can help reduce the risk of unwanted litter and prevent certain types of cancer and other reproductive disorders. Neutering can also help reduce aggressive behavior like territorial marking and fighting.

Spaying Female Dogs

It is best to spay female dogs between six months and one year. That can help reduce the risk of an unwanted litter. It can also help prevent certain cancers and other reproductive disorders. Spaying female dogs can prevent them from going into heat, which is inconvenient for pet owners and may attract male animals.

However, the optimal age for neutering or spaying a dog can vary depending on its breed, size, and other factors.

Small Breed Dogs

A small breed dog may be more prone to certain stress fractures. These include those of the shoulder. He/she may benefit from sterilization at a younger age. Consult a veterinarian about the best age and timing for these procedures in small-breed dogs.

Large Breed Dogs

Larger dogs may be at a higher risk for certain cancers, such as bone cancer, and may benefit from sterilization later in life. Consult a veterinarian about the best age and timing for these procedures in large-breed dogs.

Ultimately, this and all other medical decisions concerning your pet are your responsibility. The veterinarian's job is to lay out the risks and benefits for your pet and assist you in developing the best care plan.

For more pet care tips, visit Chaparral Veterinary Medical Center at our Cave Creek, Arizona office. Call 480-595-8600 to schedule an appointment today.