Animal shelters and pet rescue organizations perform early spay and neuter primarily to help reduce the pet population. There has been much controversy as to the long-term effects on pets with early spay and neuter. Dr. Anna Coffin will reveal the facts based on some long-term veterinary university studies.
Dr. Anna Coffin defines early spay and neuter if the patient is under 5 months of age when the procedure is performed. Those opposed to early spay and neuter are concerned about the long-term physical effects that this procedure will have on the pet’s body. Thanks to an 11 year study done at Cornell University most of these myths have been busted!
Obesity: Spay and neuter does not make your pet fat or lazy. Too much food and not enough exercise is the main cause of obesity. The Cornell University study actually revealed a decrease in obesity for pets that were spayed and neutered at an early age.
Stunted growth: Lack of hormone actually causes the growth plates in puppies and kittens to close at a later date. This means that pets with early spay and neuter actually have longer bones than pets neutered later in life.
Hip dysplasia: Studies on this subject have been performed at Texas A&M and Cornell University and they both came back with different answers. Texas A&M showed no increase in hip dysplasia, while Cornell University showed a slight increase in the incidence of hip dysplasia.
Perivulvar dermatitis: This is inflammation of the skin around the vulva and has been documented even in intact female dogs. The incidence of this condition has nothing to do with when they are spayed. Perivulvar dermatitis is a confirmation problem and is worsened by obesity.
Puppy vaginitis: The incidence of puppy vaginitis is the same regardless of the age of spay and neuter. In fact, there is controversy of when is the proper time to spay a puppy with vaginitis.
Feline urinary obstruction: Those opposing early spay and neuter suggest that this procedure will decrease the diameter of the urethra and lead to increase in urinary obstruction. This myth has been busted!
Urinary incontinence: It is well-known that spaying and the lack of estrogen causes urinary incontinence especially in older spayed females. Three difference studies have been performed and they all came to a different conclusion.
Anesthesia: The risk of anesthesia is probably the number one fear of pet owners. Because of this fear, many owners prefer not to accept the risk for preventative procedures such as spay, neuter and periodontal cleanings. There is always a slight risk involved, but the anesthetics currently used are very safe. Blood work prior to anesthesia and monitoring the patient’s heart and respiratory rate with proper equipment will improve the safety of anesthesia. The anesthetic risk for puppies and kittens is no different from an adult dog as their metabolic development is complete by 6 weeks of age. Special attention should be aimed at maintaining body temperature and blood sugar levels because of the pediatrics’ lower body fat and decreased ability to shiver.
As you can see, a majority of the myths for early spay and neuter have been busted. Dr. Anna Coffin recommends spay and neuter before 6 months of age for males and females. [Tweet “Dr. Anna Coffin recommends spay and neuter before 6 months of age for males and females. “]
Still not sure? Read the benefits of spaying and neutering your pet.
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Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family. Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and therefore, treat every four-legged friend as part of the family.