There is no one correct decision when it comes to deciding the age at which to spay or neuter your pets- especially a dog. I recommend spaying and neutering cats at 16 weeks of age- this allows their organ function to be developed enough for anesthesia (after bloodwork shows us that there is no underlying issue), but is before a heat cycle or they are old enough to start prowling the ‘hood. Cats are induced ovulators- so if one is in heat and a male meets her in the right way, she will have a litter in about 60 days.
In dogs, the answer is not so simple. There is some research that has come around lately regarding the age of dogs when spaying and neutering, particularly in larger breed dogs. Every heat cycle a dog goes through, their chances of developing mammary cancer increases, as does their chance of having a pyometra (infected uterus). The research that has come around states that joint issues are more likely in dogs if they are spayed before they are full grown- around 1-2 years of age, depending on the breed. The concern I have with this research is that it was not controlled- it basically consisted of a survey that asked when a pet was spayed/neutered and if they developed joint issues. This means that there are many other variables that could change the outcome. Diet, joint supplementation, exercise activity and lifestyle can all have a bearing on joint health. I do recommend that if your dog is in heat, that we wait at least 4 weeks after it starts, hopefully 2 weeks after they are done with their cycle. This will minimize any chance we have of increased bleeding during surgery.
While it is not as risky to a male dog to wait on neutering, allowing their testosterone can definitely increase hormone-related unwanted behaviors. This could include urine marking, aggression, and the drive to find females. And in large dogs, I have heard of this drive making a dog jump through a closed house window in order to get to a female passing by!
One other consideration– in Tulsa, it is legally required to spay or neuter your pet by the age of 6 months. You won’t be able to get a city license without having proof that your pet has been fixed. If you have questions about procedures, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or schedule an appointment with our veterinarian!