Breaking down the optimal spay-neuter timing debate
Gone are the days when you’re absolutely 100 percent sure what to say when a client asks the best age at which to spay or neuter a dog or cat. New research is showing possible ill effects of early spaying or neutering, resulting in some veterinarians recommending waiting until a patient is 1 to 2 years of age—or maybe not sterilizing a pet at all. Yet shelter policies often advocate these surgeries before a pet is adopted—often at a very young age. What to do?
We asked Philip Bushby, DVM, MS, DACVS, a member of the task force that helped create the updated Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ 2016 Veterinary Medical Care Guidelines for Spay-Neuter Programs, this very question at a recent CVC, and he summarized all of the factors rolling into this complex question:
Oh, those studies that show the possible detriment of early spaying and neutering. Here’s Dr. Bushby’s take on how to take the findings:
Dr. Bushby next admitted his personal bias in this area (hint: as if you could forget, lots of animals are being euthanized every year):
So, still what to do? Dr. Bushby’s advice: Talk it over with the owner: