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  • Chuckanut Valley Veterinary Clinic

    896 N. Burlington Boulevard, Burlington, WA 98233 US

    360-757-3722

  • The Chuckanut Valley Feline Center

    1214 Dupont Street, Bellingham, WA 98225 US

    360-671-7707

Getting Your Pet Fixed 101

Posted Aug 18th, 2022

Getting Your Pet Fixed 101

If you are considering getting your pet fixed you probably have a lot of questions. Our Burlington and Bellingham vets will provide you with everything you need to know about getting your pet fixed.

Getting Your Pet Fixed

When we talk about getting an animal 'fixed' we are using a generic term for the surgeries used to sterilize a pet. Female animals are sterilized by removing their reproductive organs. Sterilization of male animals is done by removing the testes.

Why We Recommending Spaying & Neutering Cats

Pet parents may feel reluctant to have their cat fixed, especially when it comes to indoor cats. Nonetheless, there are some very good reasons why your cat should be sterilized regardless of whether they spend their time indoors or outdoors:

  • May Protect Against Disease - Fixing a female cat before its first heat, helps prevent uterine infections, uterine cancers, and breast cancer. Fixing male cats eliminate the chances of testicular cancer and lower the risk of prostate problems. Generally, sterilized pets live healthier, longer, and happier lives.
  • Often Curbs Undesirable Behaviors  - Sterilized cats will be less likely to roam, yowl, wail, bite, display aggressive behavior, or spray or mark their territory. Intact males often escape finding females, putting them at risk of injury or fights with other males. Roaming can also expose your cat to dangerous diseases, including feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. 
  • Fight Overpopulation - An estimated 60 and 100 million homeless cats are living in the U.S. - getting your male or female cat fixed can help control the pet overpopulation crisis. 
  • Can Be More Cost-Effective  - Treating cancers of the reproductive system, caring for newborn kittens, and veterinary care for injuries sustained through cat fights can be costly. Spaying and neutering can help to reduce these costs. 
  • A More Contented Cat - It is believed that fixed cats live longer because they are less likely to wander away from home, become involved in road accidents, and fight with other male cats. 

When to Spay or Neuter Your Cat

The guidelines regarding when to spay or neuter your cat are relatively straightforward.

Female cats can enter their first heat cycle and become pregnant as young as 4 months of age. Male cats also become able to father kittens at around this age and are capable of impregnating any number of fertile female cats he encounters.

Generally, it is a good idea to spay or neuter your cat by the month of age. Getting your cat fixed at this young age allows your kitten time to grow while providing your cat with the possible health benefits listed above, curbing undesirable behaviors such as spraying before the behavior becomes established, and preventing the birth of countless unwanted kittens. Kittens that are fixed at around 5 months of age typically recover very quickly from surgery and soon return to their normal daily activities.

Why We Recommend Spaying & Neutering Dogs

At Chuckanut Valley Vet Clinic and Chuckanut Feline Center we feel that getting your dog fixed is an important part of caring for your pet's overall health and wellbeing. Below are just a few reasons why you should spay or neuter your dog.

  • Population Control - It is estimated that about 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year across the USA. Fixing your dog helps reduce the overall number of unplanned puppies each year.
  • Prevent Disease - Sterilization prevents male dogs from developing testicular cancer and helps to prevent serious health problems from affecting your female dog such as pyometra, (a potentially life-threatening uterine infection), and mammary cancer.
  • Curb Undesirable Behaviors - Spaying and neutering may help reduce undesirable behaviors such as dog aggression, roaming and straying, and humping or mounting.
  • Save Money - Treating cancers of the reproductive system can be expensive, as is caring for a dog throughout pregnancy and caring for puppies. Unaltered pets may be more destructive indoors and in your yard and are more likely to engage in serious fights with other dogs, often requiring costly emergency vet care.
  • A More Contented Dog - Unaltered male dogs are very likely to try to escape regularly to go in search of female dogs in heat. Unaccompanied roaming leads to an increased risk of being hit by a car or becoming lost or stolen. Spaying or neutering can help your dog feel more contented to be at home.

Determining The Best Age to Spay or Neuter Your Dog

Deciding on the best time to spay or neuter your dog is a little more complex. Until recently, it was recommended that pet parents have their puppies spayed or neutered at around 6 - 9 months of age, however, recently that advice has been questioned.

Factors in Favor of Waiting for a Little Longer Before Spaying & Neutering

Some recent studies appear to show that spaying or neutering pets at 6 -9 months of age, may, in some breeds, lead to an increased risk of conditions such as joint disorders,  cranial cruciate injuries, and some cancers. This appears to be related to how sex hormones affect each pet's musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and immune systems development, and the age at which different breeds reach sexual maturity. 

Dog Breeds & Age of Sexual Maturity

Toy, miniature and small dogs with an anticipated adult weight under 45 lbs typically reach sexual maturity much younger age than larger breeds do. Toy breeds can reach full maturity as young as 6 - 9 months, whereas medium to large breed dogs may not reach maturity until 12 months of age, and giant breeds can take as long as 18 months to reach sexual maturity. This leads many vets to recommend delaying spay and neuter surgeries until the pet reaches maturity.

The Best Time to Spay or Neuter Your Unique Pet

Your veterinarian understands your pet's health and development better than anyone and is in the best position to recommend the ideal time to get your pet 'fixed' based on breed, overall health, and lifestyle.

A general guideline is:

  • Small-breed dogs should be fixed at about 5 -6 months of age.
  • Large-breed male dogs should be neutered once growth stops, at about 9 and 15 months of age.
  • The decision on when to spay a large-breed female dog should be spayed between 5 to 15 months of age depending on your dog’s disease risk and lifestyle.

When seeing your vet for your puppy's early checkups and vaccinations ask about the best time to have your dog spayed or neutered, and raise any concerns you may have.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you are considering getting your pet fixed and have questions about why and when you should do it, contact our Burlington and Bellingham vets today for a consultation.

New Patients Welcome

Chuckanut Valley Vet Clinic and Chuckanut Feline Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Burlington and Bellingham companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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