Spaying (for girls) and neutering (for boys) is usually done when a dog is around six months old. This is a good age for a number of reasons. First, most puppies have received all of their vaccines by this time and are therefore protected against some of the germs that may be present in the veterinary hospital. These young dogs are also mature enough that their response to anesthetic agents and other medications are similar to those of older animals, so no special accommodations for their age need to be made.
Some of the technical aspects of spaying and neutering are easier for veterinary surgeons when tissues are still young and “stretchy” and large breeds are not yet too big but smaller breeds aren’t exceptionally tiny. Several of the goals of spaying and neutering are best accomplished before pets reach puberty, which usually occurs around one year of age. Females have almost complete protection against a type of mammary cancer when they are spayed before their first heat, and certain undesirable behaviors in males (e.g. aggression or marking) are best prevented by early neutering rather than waiting to see if problems develop.
The six-month timeframe is not appropriate under all circumstances (e.g. if a female has a disorder called “puppy vaginitis”), so listen to your veterinarian’s advice as to when your dog should be spayed or neutered.
Article By: Jennifer Coates DVM