Early neutering solves a compliance problem for practitioners, Dr. Scarlett says. Traditionally, a veterinarian completes
the vaccination series when the pet is 4 months old. At that time, the veterinarian tells the pet owner to come back in two
months for neutering. "By then," Dr. Scarlett says, "the kids are going back to school and they're really busy, and they put
it off. It is a very common occurrence that people tell us, 'I didn't think she could come into heat that early,' or 'I meant
to get him neutered but I forgot.'
"If veterinarians told their clients when they were lining them up that roughly two or three weeks after the final vaccination
we'll schedule you to come right in and have that animal neutered," Dr. Scarlett says, "they would probably still bring the
animal in, and we would get most of them before puberty."
The research shows that roughly 15% of puppies and kittens will have litters before they can be neutered, Dr. Scarlett says.
"That's a hole I'm trying to plug."
However, if despite your best efforts, a puppy or kitten has a litter, spay the animal soon after birthing. "Ovariohysterectomy
often is performed at the same time as a Cesarean section," says Margaret V. Root Kustritz, DVM, PhD, DACT. "The only downside
is the incisions end up buried beneath the engorged mammary glands and the puppies may end up irritating them."
Dr. Scarlett says she has talked to many veterinarians who, once they learned how to perform pediatric neutering, were much
more comfortable with neutering at a younger age than at the traditional age. "It is much easier, much faster, and the animals
recover faster," she says. "Ask yourself how many litters 15% would prevent."
1. Howe LM. Short-term results and complications of prepubertal gonadectomy in cats and dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;211:57-62.