April was a busy month in our business with lots of desexing of dogs and cats – April was a “Desexing Special Month”. One of the 4 months we have every year when we offer our services to the public for approximately 50% discount in price. It is our way of helping owners who are struggling with finances and we want to try to decrease the number of puppies and kittens who end up in animal shelters with no home and very limited future prospects.
Every time we have one of these desexing months we are approached by owners who would like their animal desexed at a very young age (under 6 months) and I feel it is time that owners are aware of the risks to the health of their animal if has its reproductive organs removed too early in life.
Ever since I became a veterinarian, I have heard that the best time to desex an animal is around 6 months. For the last 25 years there has been a push by some establishments to desex even earlier than this age. In fact, I have seen puppies and kittens desexed even at 8 weeks of age. For a long time we, the staff of East Bundaberg Veterinary Hospital, have been a strong advocate NOT to desex any animal under 6 months of age – in fact we refuse to desex an animal under 6 months of age unless there is a medical reason to do so. University studies are now showing that desexing animals (especially dogs) under the age of puberty can lead to serious medical problems later in their life. In fact, nearly all of these studies show that desexing before the animal is fully mature can lead to serious problems later in their life.
This has made a lot of members of the Veterinary profession rethink what should be the recommendation to owners when we are approached about the appropriate age to desex dogs. Generally, the following recommendations are our recommendations for dogs and cats.
- Male cats should be desexed between the age of 6 months to 8 months
- Female cats should be desexed between the age of 6 months and 8 months
- Male dogs should be desexed between the age of 12 months and 2 years (depending on the breed – the larger the breed the older the dog should be)
- Female dogs should be desexed between the age of 9 months and 2 years of age (depending on the breed – as with male dogs). BUT the owner must be aware that some female dogs may come on heat before the appropriate age and this then may cause the recommendation to be adjusted