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Animal House: Timing The Big Snip

Kostandin Minga
Flickr via Creative Commons
The timing of your canine Lothario's big snip is important to the future health of the animal. Plus, it helps avoid future awkward situations.

Spaying or neutering your pets can result in great health benefits and longer lives for your animals. But the timing of that operation is crucial.

When it comes to spaying and neutering you pets, the traditional time frame of four to six months isn’t necessarily a hard and fast rule, according to Dr. Matt Fraker from Prairie Oak Veterinary Center in Normal.

“Traditionally, we’ve looked at that teenage range of spaying or neutering, before the first heat,” said Fraker. “But vets have noticed that in the larger breeds that develop bone cancer that there’s a relationship between the size of the animal and the fact that they were neutered young.”

Credit Dan Hughes / Flickr via Creative Commons
Flickr via Creative Commons
Smaller dogs can be spayed or neutered at six months, while is might be wise to wait longer for larger breeds.

Another disease that seemed to relate to age of neutering is cranial cruciate ligament disease, which is similar to an ACL injury in a human. Fraker noted that it’s still unknown why early neutering leads to such orthopedic issues, but enough is understood about the relationship of timing the operation to bring many vets to recommend that in larger breed dogs, like Great Danes, it’s better to wait until past the traditional six month deadline.

With bigger dogs, pet owners can wait to nine months for males to neuter and aim for timing of the spaying for females to before their first heat. For smaller dogs and cats, that six-month mark will work.

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Reporter, content producer and former All Things Considered host, Laura Kennedy is a native of the Midwest who occasionally affects an English accent just for the heck of it. Related to two U.S. presidents, Kennedy appalled her family by going into show business.