Adoptable Animals

What is the correct age to spay or neuter my dog or cat?

We get asked this question a lot. Last year, the State of Colorado enacted House Bill 1185, under which animal shelters and rescue groups must spay or neuter cats and dogs before turning them over to new owners. The bill also allows for new owners to promise to do so within 90 days if the animal has not yet been sterilized.

The intention of the new law is, since pet overpopulation is a serious problem statewide, that it will reduce the number of animals that need to be euthanized overall.

Past recommendations by veterinarians have been sterilization at 6-12 months, but studies in the last 10-15 years have changed the professional’s view of this recommendation. Additional unexpected benefits have arisen from prepubertal neutering such as:

  • Dogs live 1-3 years longer and cats live 3-5 years longer if they were neutered prior to reaching maturity
  • Certain cancers are sharply decreased
  • Common medical problems such as tumors, cysts, and hernias are reduced
  • Higher metabolic rates allow for swifter recovery and less bleeding during surgery in younger animals
  • Some evidence shows positive socialization and behavior effects from early age sterilization.

So with adoptive families understanding the need and the benefits for pet sterilization and the with new law in place – what is the correct age to spay or neuter your pet?

According to veterinarian Dr. Jeff Young, at Planned Pethood Plus, Inc in Denver, Colorado, he recommends prepubertal sterilization at 8-16 weeks of age. With his background of personally sterilizing over 160,000 dogs and cats, his recommendation is based on the following advantages at 8-16 weeks:

  • They have had some vaccinations (immunity is higher)
  • They have better body condition
  • They can still get all of the benefits of early age sterilization.

In some cases and with the new law in place, sterilization may have to take place at 6-8 weeks in shelter conditions. Dr. Young believes that “more veterinarians and humane groups are going to early age neutering because it is a clear win/win situation for all parties involved. “

If you have more questions on what is the correct age to spay or neuter your companion pet please contact CAWL at 720-515-CAWL or contact your local veterinarian.

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