Spaying refers to the surgical sterilization of a female animal, usually a cat or dog that is kept as a pet. Many people choose to spay their pets as a method of preventing pregnancy and helping to control the dog population. Every year numerous dogs and cats are euthanized because there are not enough people willing to care for them. Spaying helps solve this problem by ensuring that pets do not reproduce spontaneously.
When to Spay
Dog trainers and breeders agree that it's best to spay a puppy before puberty in order to fully take advantage of the health and behavioral benefits of a fixed pet. Moreover, the procedure tends to be easier when the pet is younger. A good age to spay a puppy is before her first heat or estrus cycle. The first heat cycle for most dogs occurs sometime between six to nine months of age. Thus, spaying a puppy before she is six months old is considered the best bet. According to Margaret V. Root Kustritz, D.V.M., the optimal time to spay a puppy is after three months but before six months. This ensures that the puppy will avoid suffering from urinary incontinence, but will also gain the health benefits of spaying. Puppies that are spayed when they are younger also have an easier recovery experience.
Early spaying can also be done as long as the puppy is at least eight weeks old and weighs more than two pounds. Early spaying is supported by major animal organizations such as the American Kennel Club and American Veterinary Medical Association.
Benefits of Spaying
In addition to curbing the overall population of dogs and cats, spaying also has several health benefits. In female dogs, spaying decreases the risk of breast cancer and mammary tumors. It also decreases the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer, especially when it is done before the animal experiences her first heat.
There are also several behavioral benefits. Spayed pets are less likely to urinate to mark their territory and they're less likely to wander and roam. Many spayed females shed less than animals that are intact. Spaying also helps reduce anxiety and anxious behaviors such as biting, scratching and excessive licking.