At Heart + Paw, we’re passionate about preventive care and would like to see our patients spayed and neutered unless they are going to be bred responsibly. 

Breeding pets correctly is complicated and should only be done by an experienced, reputable breeder who understands how to select for the best traits. When pets are bred without considering the implications, we end up with more pets than we’re prepared to raise and they end up in shelters. According to the ASPCA, “Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats).”  

We’ve compiled some information to help answer some common questions you may have about spaying and neutering pets:

  • Ovariohysterectomy, or spay, is the surgical removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the uterus of the female cat and dog, eliminating their ability to reproduce. It takes anywhere from 10 minutes to about an hour, mostly depending on the size of the pet.
  • Neuter can be used for males or females, but usually refers to the surgical removal of the testicles from the male cat and dog, eliminating their ability to reproduce. Surgery takes about 5 minutes in cats and up to 30 minutes for dogs.
  • Removing the testicles in males reduces the breeding instinct, making them less likely to roam in search of a female.
  • Spaying your female dog before her first heat cycle will almost eliminate her chance of developing mammary cancer later in life. Spaying before her second heat cycle will still significantly decrease the risk, but after the second heat cycle, this benefit is lost.
  • Neutering your male dog will reduce the risk of him developing urinary incontinence due to an enlarged prostate later in life and eliminate his risk of testicular cancer.
  • A neutered male dog is less likely to show aggression.
  • Serious complications are rare and increase as your pet gets older.
  • Neutering male dogs before their bones are mature can change the length of the bones, and actually can cause them to be longer. This may affect the dog’s tendency to develop conditions such as arthritis and ligament injuries, but studies are still being done to determine whether there is enough evidence of this to change our spay/neuter protocols.  For now, if you have a large-breed male dog, it is reasonable to consider waiting to neuter him until he is over a year of age.
  • If a female dog or cat is not regularly bred and is not spayed, she can develop an infection of the uterus called a pyometra, which can quickly become life-threatening. It requires emergency surgery and can be very expensive.

We encourage clients to book a spay or neuter consultation visit to determine the best timing for your pet’s upcoming surgery and to address any questions you may have around the process as well.