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At what age should a dog be fixed?

This forum is for dog lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your dog.

  
Alastor

Play! Play!- Play! Cat?....- Play!
 
 
Barked: Mon Feb 8, '10 9:32am PST 
When I got Alastor from the shelter, he was about 10 weeks old and had just been fixed the day before. Everything I've heard says that dogs shouldn't be fixed until at least six months of age.

What are the pros/cons of fixing a dog that early?
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Daddy

Changing one- mind at a time - APBT style
 
 
Barked: Mon Feb 8, '10 10:56am PST 
Pros of early age (prior to 6 months) altering:

* Potentially faster recovery time

* For shelters/rescues, they can ensure the dog will never reproduce and they don't have to worry about the owner not altering the dog later on.

* Makes the dog sterile. Of course this one is a benefit to altering at any age.

* Highly decreased risk of mammary cancer in females (this is also a pro to spaying at six months of age or before the first heat).

* Decreased incidence of marking behavior later on. But training is still essential to prevent this behavior.


Cons of early age altering:

* For large and giant breeds can cause problems with growth. Including an increased risks of: hip dysplasia, torn cruciate ligament (due to extra stress on the ligament), narrowed chest, CCL Rupture.

* Increased risk of hemangiosarcoma, one of the more common cancers in medium to large sized dogs.

* Increased risk of bone cancer in some large and giant breeds.

* Surgery is riskier in dogs under 5 months of age.

* A multi breed study showed the most common behavioral problems in dogs altered early (compared to being left unaltered or altered at 6 months to one and a half years) were: increased noise phobia and aggression.

* Increased risk of incontinence in both male and female dogs.


References:

Spain CV, Scarlett JM, Houpt KA. Long-term risks and benefits of early-age gonadectomy in dogs. JAVMA 2004;224:380-387

Howe LM, Slater MR, Boothe HW, Hobson HP, Holcom JL, Spann AC. Long-term outcome of gonadectomy performed at an early age or traditional age in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2001 Jan 15;218(2):217-21.

Kustritz MVR: Determining the optimal age for gonadectomy of dogs and cats. J Amer Vet Med Assoc 231:1665-1675, 2007.

Salmeri KR, Bloomberg MS, Scruggs SL, Shille V.. Gonadectomy in immature dogs: effects on skeletal, physical, and behavioral development. JAVMA 1991;198:1193-1203

Grumbach MM. Estrogen, bone, growth and sex: a sea change in conventional wisdom. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2000;13 Suppl 6:1439-55.

Slauterbeck JR, Pankratz K, Xu KT, Bozeman SC, Hardy DM. Canine ovariohysterectomy and orchiectomy increases the prevalence of ACL injury. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2004 Dec;(429):301-5.

Ware WA, Hopper DL. Cardiac tumors in dogs: 1982-1995. J Vet Intern Med 1999 Mar-Apr;13(2):95-103

Cooley DM, Beranek BC, Schlittler DL, Glickman NW, Glickman LT, Waters D, Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Nov;11(11):1434-40

Ru G, Terracini B, Glickman LT. Host related risk factors for canine osteosarcoma. Vet J. 1998 Jul;156(1):31-9

Salmeri KR, Olson PN, Bloomberg MS: Elective gonadectomy in dogs: A review. J Amer Vet Med Assoc 198:1183, 1991.

Obradovich J, Walshaw R, Goullaud E. The influence of castration on the development of prostatic carcinoma in the dog.

Aaron A, Eggleton K, Power C, Holt PE. Urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence in male dogs: a retrospective analysis of 54 cases. Vet Rec. 139hi542-6, 1996

Aaron A, Eggleton K, Power C, Holt PE. Urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence in male dogs: a retrospective analysis of 54 cases. Vet Rec. 139hi542-6, 1996

Edited by author Mon Feb 8, '10 10:58am PST

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Alastor

Play! Play!- Play! Cat?....- Play!
 
 
Barked: Tue Feb 9, '10 9:02am PST 
Wow. Thank you for the info.
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Lucy

is it dinner- time yet?
 
 
Barked: Tue Feb 9, '10 9:08am PST 
* For shelters/rescues, they can ensure the dog will never reproduce and they don't have to worry about the owner not altering the dog later on.

Side comment: Many shelters now tatoo along the surgical line for further proof saying "I'm spayed! Don't try to breed me!"
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Tyler

Whippy- The- Whipador
 
 
Barked: Tue Feb 9, '10 9:15am PST 
Rescue centers here don't neuter/spay as early as the shelters tend to do in the US. While i can understand why they do perform early spay/neuters i can't say i agree with it and i would have serious reservations.

In general though for large/giant breeds anywhere from 18 months up to 2 years is a good age to spay/neuter, even later in some slow maturing breeds such as Mastiffs etc.

For a smaller dog anything over a year suits me.

I will never spay/neuter a dog under the age of a year old, unless rescuing which is of course out of my hands.
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Titus

Cave canis- vigilo omnis
 
 
Barked: Tue Feb 9, '10 9:45am PST 
Wow - thanks, Daddy! It's difficult to find all that info in one place - thanks for compiling it! hailhail
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Daddy

Changing one- mind at a time - APBT style
 
 
Barked: Tue Feb 9, '10 11:13am PST 
You're welcome Alastor and Titus smile. I hope it wasn't too overwhelming but I was trying to be as thorough as possible.

I don't necessarily like that shelters alter animals so young, but I also don't like the thought of said animal going unaltered and ending up contributing to the already thousands of homeless pets. It's just one of those lesser of two evils kind of things. For personal pets with responsible owners, I don't recommend sterilizing prior to 6 months of age.
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