KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Spaying and neutering your pet is a topic that in the US, we associate with being a responsible pet owner, but when is the best time to do it? That’s where you’ll get some conflicting information.
When Carissa Tipton adopted her 16-month-old puppy from a shelter, he was already neutered, but she says he would’ve been no matter what.
“This is my fourth dog and I have spayed or neutered all of them,” Tipton said.
Spaying and neutering does lead to a healthier outcome for dogs and cats, but beyond that, things can get hazy.
“It’s very complicated. There is not a clear-cut answer to when you should do it,” Tipton said.
It’s a conversation Dr Libby Robertson has with her patients all the time. At what age should you spay or neuter your dog?
“There is not a magic age,” Robertson said.
Robertson says research on the topic is likely to confuse even the most in touch pet owner, and it’s not just research we need to weed through.
“Dr. Google has some fabulous information, the problem is some of it is purely opinion based,” Robertson said.
Some studies warn pet parents their male dogs may become more aggressive after neutering, a claim Robertson says is untrue in the vast majority of cases. In cases where a dog is more aggressive after surgery, it’s likely due to other factors like changes in the home or diet, not because of losing testosterone.
One thing is true, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, spaying and neutering isn’t a perfect surgery. The site says, “the removal of sex hormones may influence the incidence of a variety of disease processes, increasing some, while reducing others.”
Spaying and neutering too early can lead to osteo issues later in life, particularly in large breed dogs, but if you wait too long, the cancer rate can go up.
“We have to balance between increased cancer risk and increased orthopedic disease, so this is absolutely a time that you have a heart to heart conversation with your veterinarian because different breeds are showing different propensities for cancer and orthopedic disease based on the timing of the spay and the neuter,” Robertson said.
Robertson said several things need to be taken into consideration, including the dog’s breed, ideally large breed males need to wait a while until their bones grow, while smaller dogs do just fine having it done quite early.
“I think the big thing is making sure you’re having this discussion with your veterinarian and if your veterinarian hasn’t read this research, get a second opinion,” Robertson said.