The valid concerns of pet overpopulation have prompted frequent and aggressive spay and neuter campaigns on local and national levels. These are well-intended: without responsible pet ownership and spaying/neutering, many pets end up in foster care or shelters—even increasing the rates of dogs and cats who are euthanized needlessly.
However, these same public awareness campaigns often do not include the "when" to neuter your dog, leading to premature neutering. Animal healthcare experts have done the research and begun to question the practice of early sterilization, considering the possible long-term health implications for pets who’ve undergone premature neutering. Early neutering can cause orthopedic, behavioral, immunologic, and oncologic (tumor) problems in dogs, leading to a shortened lifespan and increased health issues.
The Dangers of Neutering Before Puberty
There are many risks associated with early neutering that have come to light with more research over the past decades.
Studies have concluded that neutering before puberty increases a dog’s risk of:
- Cardiac tumors
- Bone cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Abnormal bone growth and development
- ACL ruptures
- Hip dysplasia
- Urinary incontinence
- Behavioral issues such as noise phobias, fearful behavior, and aggression
Why is Early Neutering a Problem?
You may wonder why the timing of your pet’s neuter matters at all. It comes down to the importance of the hormones produced by the reproductive organs. Although these organs function primarily to reproduce, they also have specific roles to play in the maturation of your dog’s body. Bones, teeth, and other organs benefit from an extended period of hormone production from your dog’s reproductive system. When this is cut short too early, your pet won’t receive the advantages of this growth.
Disrupting natural processes must be done carefully. That’s why many veterinarians are recommending careful consideration of when to neuter your male dog. There’s no one-size-fits-all age: we strongly recommend working closely with a trusted veterinarian to determine the best time to neuter your dog, which will be contingent largely on the breed, size, and health.
The Benefits of Laparoscopic Neutering
At Intermountain Pet Hospital, we offer both traditional and a less invasive form of neutering called the laparoscopic method. This method involves less pain, faster healing times, and a decreased risk of complications. We believe this gentler surgery is the better way to go for your dog.
Laparoscopic neutering and spaying include a dedicated veterinary technician to monitor and administer anesthetics to your dog. We believe we can make your dog’s experience more comfortable, safer, and less stressful, in turn giving you peace of mind knowing your beloved pet is well cared for.
If you have any questions about when you should neuter your male dog or spay your female dog, or if you’re curious about our spay/neuter practices at IPH, contact us today. We’d be happy to answer any of your questions and address your concerns. We want you to feel comfortable and know that your pet is loved.