Does My Pet Need to Be Spayed or Neutered? [Ask a Vet]

A fluffy dog sitting on a couch next to its owner, waiting for spaying or neutering procedure

You bring home a new puppy or kitten and you just know it; a joyful new life chapter is about to unfold! Along with the joys that your new fur baby will bring with their unique personalities and antics, you will be able to get the fulfilling experience of caring for a new (and adorable) member of the family. Part of caring for a new pet is making some decisions, such as what toys to get, when to first schedule a veterinary wellness exam, what pet vaccinations to get for them, and whether or not your pet should get spayed or neutered.

Read on to get our experts' answers to the most commonly asked questions about spaying and neutering for cats and dogs.

Spayed and neutered dogs exhibiting reduced aggression in a dog park

What's in This Guide?

What Does Spaying or Neutering a Pet Mean?

Spaying or neutering, simply put, is a medical procedure that makes a dog or cat unable to reproduce. Spaying female pets involves the careful removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. Meanwhile, neutering male pets involves the careful removal of the testicles. Being a routine procedure, this is the most common type of surgery performed on dogs and cats.

Why Spay or Neuter My Pet?

Spaying and neutering are highly recommended by veterinary organizations as well as animal welfare organizations, such as the following:

The primary reason why spaying and neutering is recommended by the above organizations (and by our experts here at Sploot) is because these procedures help ensure that your pet can live out a long, healthy life! Spaying and neutering pets that are qualified for the procedure will also positively impact the community. On top of all these reasons, spaying and neutering may also be legally required, depending on your region.

Health Benefits for Male & Female Pets

Spaying and neutering our pets reduces the risk of many health conditions, such as testicular cancer, breast tumors, uterine infections, and prostate-related issues. Here at Sploot, we are dedicated to keeping your fur baby as healthy and happy as possible. Because each pet has individual needs, we screen pets thoroughly during the pre-operative consultation to ensure that spaying and neutering will be beneficial for their health.

Behavioral Benefits for Male & Female Pets

On top of health benefits, spaying and neutering can also carry behavioral benefits. This does NOT mean that spaying and neutering is the solution for all behavioral issues in pets, but generally speaking, these procedures help to reduce aggression in both male and female dogs and cats.

Spaying and neutering also reduces the need to reproduce, which will help eliminate a pet's urge to leave home in search of a mate. Unneutered or unspayed pets have a tendency to find a way out and seek a mate, which puts their lives in jeopardy if they manage to escape, cross through traffic, and potentially fight other dogs and cats. Unfortunately, some dogs and cats may get lost if they wander too far.

Last but not least, spaying and neutering also helps reduce unwanted behaviors in pets like marking their territory or mounting other animals.

A Safer, More Peaceful Community

Spaying and neutering eliminates the chance of unplanned litters, which reduces the chances of having kittens and pups that won't have a home to go to. There is already an extremely high demand for fosters and adoptions, so doing our part in reducing that number is a start for the community.

In addition, because spaying and neutering helps reduce aggressive behaviors in pets, this helps promote a more peaceful environment, especially in environments where pets frequent.

Spaying & Neutering as Legal Requirement

In some municipalities, spaying and neutering is required. One example of this is Denver, Colorado, wherein one of the requirements to get the required dog licenses and cat licenses is proof of spaying and neutering.

Other areas in the United States that require spaying and neutering include San Francisco, North Las Vegas, Memphis, and New Orleans, just to name a few. Make sure to check with your municipality if spaying or neutering is required by the law.

When Does a Dog or Cat Get Spayed or Neutered?

Age does matter when deciding to spay/neuter your dog or cat because it impacts the health benefits a pet will get from the procedure. Doing this early on can better prevent certain diseases and health issues. We recommend discussing with our veterinarians to determine the appropriate time to spay or neuter your pet, as every pet’s situation is different. However, there are general guidelines on when it's best to spay/neuter your puppy or kitty:

  • Dogs can be spayed or neutered around 6 - 9 months of age.
  • Cats can be spayed or neutered around 4 months of age.

Should Spaying or Neutering Be Done After a Pet's First Heat?

The best route is based on a pet's health history, breed, size, and other factors. It's always recommended to consult a veterinarian to determine the best time to have pets undergo spaying and neutering because individual health needs vary.

Is There Ever a Time I Shouldn’t Get My Pet Spayed or Neutered?

It is quite rare that a vet will suggest that a pet does not go through with these procedures, knowing the health benefits listed above. That is, unless the pet has an underlying condition that may affect the safety of the procedure. In any case, it is always recommended to reach out to veterinary professionals for concerns or questions.

Final Thoughts on Spaying & Neutering

We hope you found this article on spaying and neutering helpful. To wrap up, we'd like to emphasize the importance of spaying and neutering. These are routine surgical procedures that carry plenty of health, behavioral, and community benefits. In some areas, these procedures may also be required by the law. It is important to remember that the timing of this procedure is vital as this affects the scope of health benefits a dog or cat can get from it

If you have specific questions about spaying or neutering, consult your local veterinarian. For pet parents in Denver, we're here to help!

Sploot Veterinary Care is a primary & urgent care vet clinic with daily appointment availability with extended clinic hours each day. We also accept same-day appointments in our multiple convenient vet clinic locations. Our veterinarians can do a pre-surgical consultation and determine the best time for your puppy or kitten to undergo spaying or neutering, maximizing both safety and the health benefits from the procedure.

Till next time, we're with your every pounce of the way!