While opinions differ on this subject hopefully this blog should act as a guideline to help you make the decision for your pet.
The reasons for spaying or neutering your dog are clear – it keeps populations down so reduces the number of dogs without homes, provides a range of health benefits and protects your dog from a range of harmful conditions in later life.
But, one thing that is not so obvious is when to get your dog spayed or neutered. While opinions on the matter differ, hopefully the below advice should give you a better idea of when to take the plunge.
At what age should dogs be neutered?
- Dogs are generally neutered from the age of six months onwards – although the American and Australian trend of neutering dogs younger is being more common in the UK.
- While dogs can be neutered from any age once the testicles have descended, leaving it too late can cause problems.
- If your dog has begun acting sexually, becoming dominant and marking his territory using urine then these behaviours may continue even after castration and it will be hard to break them later on.
- Neutering too young also poses risks – in order for your dog to develop strong healthy joints and bones and produce all the hormones needed for growth testosterone production must begin.
- Testosterone and the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are essential for normal development and healthy growth and the production of these hormones occurs at sexual maturity.
- Neutering your pet before these hormones are produced could affect his health, immune system and development.
- To be sure that it is safe to neuter your pet you must wait until your dog is at least 6 months old, and for larger breeds, possibly longer.
- Once your dog starts to show signs of sexual maturity – such as taking an interest in the opposite sex, their bedding or even people’s legs – you’ll know the time has come!
At what age should bitches be spayed?
- As with male dogs, spaying under the age of six months is becoming increasingly common in the UK.
- However, there are a range of health issues which can occur as a result of spaying your bitch too young.
- As with male dogs, female dogs need to produce the T3 and T4 growth hormones, which develop at the onset of sexual maturity, as well as oestrogen in order to support normal development and hormone regulation.
- Spaying your dog too young before these hormones have developed can cause issues such as urinary incontinence which would require ongoing oestrogen supplementation for the rest of their life.
- Once your bitch has completed her first season she should be spayed shortly afterwards.
- This ensures that she has reached sexual maturity and helps you calculate her oestrogen cycle, so you can make sure she is spayed between cycles.
- Spaying a bitch in heat or on the verge of a season poses more risks for her, and vets will not do so unless it is an emergency.
If in any doubt as to whether your pet should be neutered or spayed it is best to contact your vet who can determine that your dog has reached sexual maturity and is ready to undergo the procedure. Make sure you’re ready with lots of treats and cuddles for afterwards!
Thanks must go to Pets4Homes for inspiration when writing this blog post: https://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/at-what-age-should-you-spay-or-neuter-your-dog.html
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