Too many animals are euthanized and abandoned every year, after being born and finding themself without a home. A big part of the solution to this problem of pet overpopulation is in neutering these. And as pet owner, this responsibility comes back to us. Only in Quebec, we talk about tens of thousands of cats and dogs euthanized for lack of home. It's huge!
The neutering of males, commonly called castration, is to remove both testicles surgically. In females, it’s called ovary-hysterectomy when the ovaries and uterus are removed surgically. We also talking of ovariectomy when only the ovaries are withdrew. But spaying is the common term use for female, whatever the method used.
Let’s begin by talking about heat. In fertile dog bitches we may observe blood flow who usually last between 2 and 3 weeks. They have 2 heats per year. This may vary from one female to the other, as their is many variation in dogs’ size and breeds. The first heat of a large dog occurs generally later than a small dog. In cats, there is no blood flows. They rather have a very unpleasant meow they emit very often overnight preventing their owners from sleeping! They are also over gluers, and more affectionate.
The non-neutered animals can also have unpleasant sexual behaviors, such as protection of territory. This can manifest itself in different forms, like aggression, fights or urine marking. These behaviors are most frequently observed in fertile males. Regardless of gender, an animal, that is not sterilized, will be more likely to want to run away.
The ideal is to do the surgery of females before their first heat. At the Ste-Rose Veterinary Hospital we want the animal to have at least 6 months, that the reproductive system is well developed and to ensure that anesthesia is safe. Moreover, the fact that the animal reach 6 months of age, let us see if the babies teeth have all fallen. Often, especially in small breed of dogs, they do not fall, and that can them teeth problems. In this case, since the animal is already under anesthesia for the neutering, we take the opportunity to remove those remaining teeth.
By cons, when the animal reaches the age of 6 months, we recommend the neutering as soon as possible, to prevent that the dog falls into heat. For males we also agree to do it starting from 6 months. But, the ideal is to do it as soon as possible once they have reached their six months of age. There are many schools of different thoughts on the subject and no reliable studies and long-term to confirm if there really a risk or not, linked to early neutering. That is why we do not take the chance of doing it younger.
The fact of neutering the animal as soon as possible has a positive impact on the health of the animal. This greatly reduces the risk that the animal develops tumors. Indeed, a fertile female will have an increased risk of developing mammary gland tumors. Moreover, neutering cancels the risk that a female develops a uterine infection (see previous article on pyometra). For its part, a fertile male will be more likely to develop tumors of the testicles and prostates problems.
With the call of nature, an incident can happen so easily and to quickly, despite our best care ans surveillance. Remember that by neutering your pet, you’re not only helping to maintain its health and therefore you extend life expectancy, but also you can help reduce the number of orphans destined for certain death.
Catherine Lapierre, certified veterinary technician