At many pet care facilities there are strict rules about when a pet, generally a dog, must be spayed or neutered to continue coming to either overnight care or dog day care. At Pet Camp, we’ve never had a “bright line” rule about these things. Yes, what activities your dog may participate in will likely change as they mature without being spayed or neutered, but the decision on when (or even if) to spay or neuter your pet is not something for us to decide – it is up to you, your veterinarian, and perhaps your dog’s breeder and there are a lot of factors that go into that decision.
5 factors you should consider before deciding to spay or neuter your dog.
Recently there was an article in Clinicians Brief that reviewed many of these factors and, if I may, support our decision not to have a specific age by which all dogs must be spayed or neutered to come to overnight care or doggie day care. Here are some of the factors Clinicians Brief says should be considered:
- Risk of Mammary Cancer: This is the most often cited reason to spay/neuter early, but the data may not be accurate and does not reflect breed specific considerations. Discussions with your veterinarian may help you understand the baseline risk of such cancers, the incremental risk, and how breeds may differ.
- Risk of Joint Disease: For larger dog breeds, early spay/neuter may increase the risk of joint disease, but not all large breeds seem to be impacted the same. Moreover, even for smaller dog breeds, early neutering may result in joint disease while early spaying may not.
- Risk of Urinary Incontinence: Urinary incontinence is not often reported in intact females but is often reported in spayed females and studies seem to indicate that early spaying results in increased risk of urinary incontinence.
- Risks of Other Cancers: Because dogs that are spayed/neutered may live longer than intact dogs, there is the increased risk that they may develop other cancers. Frankly, while this may be statistically accurate, the argument rings shallow as we all want our pets to live longer and we understand that the longer anything (human or dog) lives, the increased likelihood that we will develop a disease that kills us.
- Cost & Risk of Complications: Delayed surgery has the potential to cost more, have a higher risk of complications, and have a longer recovery time.
So, when is the right time to spay or neuter your dog?
There is no “right” time to spay or neuter your dog. You can read more about the studies cited by Clinicians Brief to help you make a better decision. But no matter when you decide to spay or neuter your dog or even if you decide not to do so, your dog is welcome at Pet Camp.
Thanks for reading.