What Age Should Dogs Be Spayed or Neutered?

by Naomi Millburn
Neutering and spaying procedures help control numbers of homeless dogs.

Neutering and spaying procedures help control numbers of homeless dogs.

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If you own an intact dog, you might want to discuss the idea of getting him fixed with a veterinarian. Intact dogs are capable of reproducing, after all, which introduces the need for finding homes for litters of helpless puppies. Intact dogs also frequently exhibit hormonal behaviors that are stressful not only to themselves, but also to the people in their lives.

Early Age Spaying and Neutering

It's thought to be safe to spay and neuter young puppies once they're 8 weeks old, indicates the ASPCA. Puppies living in shelters are frequently fixed when they're around this age, before going home with their future families. When dogs are this tender age, their anesthesia needs are lower than those of more mature canines, according to author Kim Campbell Thornton and veterinarian Debra Eldredge. Young puppies quickly heal from spaying and neutering procedures.

Before Sexual Maturity

Puppies grow and develop quickly. One day you have a tiny puppy and in a flash, seemingly, you have an adolescent canine. When dogs become sexually mature, they start to display hormonal behaviors. Not only do reproductively mature intact male dogs often start frantically escaping their homes to mate with females, they frequently mark their territories with urine and behave aggressively, too. Reproductively mature intact female dogs start regularly going into heat, which is a time of angst, antsy behavior and agitation for them. If you want to prevent your dog from displaying this kind of hormonal behavior, get him fixed prior to sexual maturity. Since dogs often become sexually mature at 6 months old, talk to your veterinarian about fixing him before that time. Vets frequently fix dogs when they're 4 to 5 months old and all through with their puppy shots.

Medical Issues

Spaying and neutering dogs can sometimes be beneficial for minimizing or stopping certain medical issues in dogs, particularly when done at a young age. If you neuter a male dog when he's young, you can stop him from experiencing testicular cancer, indicates veterinarian Shawn Messonnier. If you spay a female dog when she's young, prior to her initial estrus, you can greatly minimize her chances of ever getting breast cancer, according to author Betsy Brevitz. Female dogs typically start going into heat when they're in the range of 6 to 18 months old. Talk to your veterinarian about how getting puppies fixed early affects various medical conditions.

Older Canines

If your dog is no longer a rambunctious little puppy, it in no way means that he's too old to get fixed. It's generally safe to fix canines of most ages, although it's preferable to do it when they're still young, advises author Betsy Rosenfeld. Consult with a veterinarian regarding spaying your more mature pooch. Make sure the vet is fully aware of your pet's age and medical background.

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About the Author

Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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