• March 18, 2023

Pediatric spay-neuter: basic concepts

If you recently adopted a new puppy or kitten, you may have been presented with the option of “pediatric spay/neuter surgery” and you may not be familiar with the process, or even comfortable with the concept. . We’ve all grown used to the standard 6-9 month old to spay or neuter, and the idea of ​​operating on a small animal, as young as 4-6 weeks old, sounds pretty experimental, possibly ineffective, and even dangerous.

Here are some facts about early spay/neuter procedures: In the 1940s and 1950s, vets had much more primitive anesthetics, equipment, and tools. Anesthetics weren’t always safe, especially for young animals, and the sophisticated surgical instruments that veterinarians use today to find a tiny uterus didn’t even exist yet. Since a uterus is larger and easier to find after an estrus, or after having a litter, the advice used by vets in the past was to wait until after the first estrus or after the animal has had a litter. litter. Waiting facilitated the procedure for them.

For many years, animal shelters and humane organizations have had policies that require new pet owners to neuter the animal “as soon as possible,” but realistically, there has never been a way to enforce this requirement, and too many animals They have left the shelter. unsterilized, only to end up contributing to our already overwhelming pet overpopulation problem, despite the shelter’s best intentions.

From the point of view of effective control of pet populations, the best time to neuter dogs and cats (the optimal time) is before puberty, eliminating any possibility of the animal producing offspring. It is important to remember that the leading cause of death for companion animals is homelessness due to overpopulation.

The arguments in favor of spaying/neutering at an early age:

* Overpopulation and resulting neglect, suffering and euthanasia: Spaying/neutering at an early age completely eliminates the possibility of unwanted litters.

* Avoid heat cycles altogether – unwanted ‘visitors’ fighting on the lawn, females howling and howling!

* Neutered males are less likely to roam and fight, which prevents injuries, the spread of disease, and expensive vet bills. It has been estimated that 80% of dogs killed by cars and 80% of feline AIDS cases are unneutered males.

* Better behaved pets: Neutered pets rarely mark, roam and fight. 85% of bites involve non-neutered dogs.

* Healthier Pets: Neutered males do not have the testicular cancer or prostate problems common in intact dogs. Females spayed before their first heat cycle have 96% less mammary cancer. Your risk of uterine infection is dramatically reduced, not to mention the many complications associated with pregnancy, childbirth, or raising a litter.

* It is safe: the mortality rate is less than that of the standard sterilization procedure of 6 to 9 months.

* It is less traumatic for the pet: young animals heal faster and have fewer surgical risks than older animals that may be obese, in heat, pregnant or sick. Young animals generally wake up faster after anesthesia.

Many humane shelters across the country now support spaying and neutering upon adoption. If yours didn’t, ask your vet to perform an early age or pediatric spay/neuter (sometimes also called a juvenile spay/neuter) on your new pet. They should be able to address any questions or concerns you may have. For more information, you can also visit http://www.spayusa.org.

Every day 10,000 humans are born in the United States, while every day 70,000 puppies and kittens are born. As long as these birth rates exist, there will never be enough homes for all the animals. Early spay/neuter is one of the easiest and most obvious solutions to the problem.


1. “A Case for Neutering Puppies and Kittens at Two Months of Age” by Leo L. Lieberman DVM, a special commentary in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Volume 191.

2. “Early Spay/Neuter Helps Solve Overpopulation Problem” by Greg A. Lewis DVM, at Veterinary Forum.

3. “Should dogs in animal shelters be neutered early?” a peer-reviewed article by Walter E. Crenshaw DVM and Craig N. Carter MS, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVPM in Veterinary Medicine.

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