More than 4 million pets are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters each year simply because
they have no home. Many are puppies and kittens less than 6 months old.
Pediatric or Early Spay Neuter refers to spaying or neutering pets at a much earlier age than the old six month standard. With today's anesthetics, advanced monitoring equipment, and surgical techniques, not only are these procedures safe in young puppies and kittens, the risk of complications is lower and the recovery period shorter. Concerns about adverse affects have been proven unfounded. The American Veterinary Medical Association, Association of Spay/Neuter Veterinarians, and the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, are among those that support early spay/neuter.
The reasons for spaying and neutering are compelling and well known:
- Overpopulation and the resulting mass euthanasia and neglect It avoids heat cycles, unwelcome visitors fighting on the lawn, accidental pregnancies, unwanted puppies and kittens, inconvenience and expense. Males and their owners are spared roaming and fighting and the resulting injuries, spread of disease, and expenses. In our area, 80% of the dogs killed by cars and 80% of the cats with feline aids are unneutered males.
- Healthier pets - Neutered males don't have testicular cancer or the prostate problems common in intact dogs. Females spayed before their first heat cycle have 96.4% less breast cancer, a common cause of death. They have no risk of uterine infection, or the many complications associated with pregnancy, whelping, or raising a litter.
But why spay and neuter babies?
- It's safer. Our mortality rate is lower. I've performed over 6,000 procedures with only three losses (1/4th the loss rate in adults). Complications occur less often. Most compelling, in a study done by veterinary students, completely inexperienced surgeons, their death and complication rates were lower. It's easier on the pet - anesthesia time is shorter and recovery takes only a few hours. It completely eliminates the possibility of accidental litters. We daily hear the infamous " I didn't know she'd go into heat so soon." And "She just got out for a few minutes." The list is endless. My personal favorite is "She can't be pregnant, I chained her up when she was in heat." It completely eliminates the possibility of intentional breeding by well meaning but ignorant owners. The old "so the kids can have the experience", "just one litter", "we can make a little money", or "I found her a good home" that turns out to be a backyard puppy mill. Breeders can avoid having their names show up on poor quality stock and help control competition by backyard breeders.
- The bottom line is fewer unwanted pets, and fewer ill-bred animals filling up homes so that others go without.
Early spay/neuter does require some special training and adjustments to the techniques used in older dogs. If your vet is unfamiliar with these procedures, I am happy to consult with him or her, and/or provide research data and recommendations.
~Dr. Tracy Land D.V.M.