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Expert Advice on Pet Health and Nutrition

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WebMD Expert Discussion: When Is It Time to Spay or Neuter?

How soon is too soon? How late is too late? When it comes to spaying and neutering, pet owners often wonder what the best age is to have these surgeries performed on their dog or cat.

In the online discussion, Caring for Your Pet, WebMD guest veterinarian Will Draper, DVM, notes several advantages of spaying and neutering before your pet reaches 6-8 months of age. For male dogs and cats, early neutering can:

  • Reduce the risk of later-life obesity.
  • Lessen the inclination to wander off in search of a mate.
  • Decrease problem male tendencies like spraying, marking, and aggressive behavior.

Likewise, spaying female pets before they are 6-8 months old can reduce the risk of medical problems, such as mammary gland tumors and uterine infections.

Is there such a thing as “too soon” for spaying and neutering? Draper says there is some concern that the practice of “pediatric neutering” -- at 6-8 weeks of age -- may increase the risk of some cancers later in life, especially for large-breed dogs. But evidence is inconclusive.

One woman notes that she had both of her cats fixed at the ages her vet recommended -- around 4 months for the male and 5 months for the female.

Another member notes that despite early neutering at 5 months old -- her male cat still has gained weight. Weighing 7 pounds at the time of his neutering, he grew to 13 pounds a year later.

Of course, sometimes you don’t have control over how soon a pet is spayed or neutered. For example, if your pet is adopted as an adult and hasn't already been spayed or neutered, then they'll have to undergo the procedure as an adult. One woman shares her experience with the effects of delayed spaying. Her shelter-adopted Russian Blue cat had clearly been spayed after she was a year old, which led to a continuous problem with marking behaviors, such as urinating on piles of laundry.

At what age did you have your dog or cat spayed or neutered? How has it worked out for you and your pet?

Discussion led by William Draper, DVM Guest Expert
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Guest Expert

Dr. Will opened Georgia’s first accredited small animal emergency room in 2000. He’s been named Best Vet by Atlanta Magazine since 2004... More

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Pet Health and Nutrition Advice

Veterinarian Will Draper gives tips on the best nutrition and health care for your dog or cat.
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