It used to be standard practice to neuter or spay dogs and cats when they were around six months old.
The thinking was that pets weren’t sexually mature until around six months old and there were some risks involved with major surgery on younger animals, as well as developmental concerns if pets were desexed too early, depending on species and breed.
Most vets were taught to do the procedure on animals of this age and might not be confident performing it on smaller and younger animals.
The problem with desexing your pet later is that cats can reach sexual maturity at around four months old, so by the time you have your pet desexed at six months old your female cat may already be pregnant or have had their first litter, and your male may have started to wander.
In some breeds of dog, desexing too early can increase the risk of joint problems because it’s thought that hormones play a role in the normal development of the joints.
Reasons for Early Age Desexing
Early Age Desexing (EAD) is generally carried out between the age of 8-16 weeks old and animal shelters in particular have started using it so that puppies and kittens offered for adoption are already desexed when they leave.
This increases the chance that the animals will find a good home and reduces the overcrowding in some shelters.
It improves the efficiency of animal shelters and the wellbeing of younger animals by reducing their need to stay in the shelter for so long, which frees up the space and resources for more animals to be taken into care.
Early desexing also means rehomed dogs and cats aren’t contributing to the problem of unwanted litters and overpopulation since many pet owners put off having their pet desexed until it’s too late.
Longer, Healthier Life
Desexing at any age, for dogs and cats, increases their lifespan and avoids a number of health issues such as cancer and prostate problems in male dogs.
It also reduces the likelihood of undesirable behaviour such as aggression, fighting, urine marking, and excessive vocalisation in cats.
Exceptions for Health Reasons
There are some cases, particularly in dogs, where desexing should be delayed until the animal is older to avoid increasing the risk of certain health problems.
Desexing can cause pets to put on weight and become heavier, and early desexing produces larger animals which can lead to hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament disease in dogs.
Sydney Animal Hospital and Specialist Vet
Sydney Vet Specialists is dedicated to providing quality 24 hour veterinary care for your pets, as well as specialist services for a wide range of conditions.
To speak to one of caring, professional team members about having your dog or cat desexed, call us on 02 9197 5800, or contact us online.