Most pet owners understand that spaying or neutering their pets has a range of benefits from reducing fighting and aggressive behaviour, reducing spraying (fragrant urination to mark territory) and a lower risk of cancer in male and female pets and birth-related issues for female pets. However, it's important to time spaying and neutering correctly in order to reduce surgery risks and improve outcomes for your furry friend.
Best time is before they go into heat
Most cats and dogs enter into their first heat cycle around 4 to 6 months, so vets tend to recommend spaying at that age. For animals that have been rescued, it can be hard to know the animal's exact age, so it is often recommended to do such a procedure as soon as possible. Many rescue shelters will automatically neuter male kittens before adoption and this often occurs between 8-12 weeks with minimal risks.
Make sure they are well
With any surgery there are some risks, including infection, uncontrolled bleeding, potential for the animal to lapse into a coma or death, though these are much reduced if the animal is otherwise well when they head into surgery. Be sure to let the vet know if your animal has been unwell at all, including relatively minor illnesses or unhealed wounds as the vet may choose to delay the surgery a few days or get the animal to have some antibiotics before surgery to make sure that they are safe.
When can they have space and time to recover
While recovery from either pet surgery is relatively simple and fast, most pets require some space and a few days of calm. If you have a particularly busy time coming up at home, such as going on vacation, looking after another pet or moving home, you might need to reschedule the surgery for another time or organise for your pet to board at the vet's for a few days until they are ready to head back home. In most cases, you also need to bring them back to the vet for a follow-up appointment in the week or so following the desexing.
If you want to get your dog or cat neutered or spayed, it is a great idea to discuss the best time for the surgery with your vet, bearing in mind both your household circumstances and the age and health of your furry friend will affect when it can occur.