One of the frequent questions our veterinarians in Tampa are often asked is whats the optimal age to spay or neuter a dog or cat is. With shelters altering puppies and kittens as young as eight weeks, people often think that they should get their pets altered as soon as possible. The reason the shelters do it is because there were many adopters who didn’t bring their new pets back to be altered when they were older and the shelters didn’t want to contribute to pet overpopulation. There is still an ongoing debate about early spay and neuter and below are the recommendations we follow at our animal clinic in Tampa FL.
For our female dogs and cats, our Tampa veterinarians recommend spaying dogs and cats at six months of age. This allows more time for the pet to mature and develop while still performing surgery before their first heat cycle. While some dog breeders still recommend waiting until after a dog’s first heat to spay her, there are compelling reasons not to do so. The most important one is that spaying a female dog before her first heat greatly reduces the incidence of mammary tumors. Another reason why 6 months is a good time is the fact that sometimes when they are spayed too young the external genital becomes entrapped, contributing to the discomfort of urethritis (lower urinary tract infections)
For male dogs and cats, our vets in Tampa recommend that they be at least six months old before neutering them. This gives time for their external genitals to more fully develop, which is especially important in male cats, which can be prone to urethral blockages if neutered too early. Many people believe that male cats need to be neutered very early to prevent urine marking behaviors. In truth, there is very little link between the age a cat is neutered and if he will urine mark. It has more to do with a cat feeling insecure; as when they can see strange cats through the windows which can trigger an urge to mark his territory. Incidentally, female cats also urine mark and are more likely to suffer from insecurity. With male dogs, as long as they aren’t exhibiting hormone based behavioral issues (ex. Aggression, humping behavior,etc), you can wait until they’re nine or ten months old.
We know that you want to do the best for your new puppy or kitten and there can be a great deal of conflicting information out there. Please feel free to call or email our Tampa veterinary staff with any questions you might have about any aspect of caring for your pet.