Spay & Neuter FAQ's

In addition to preventing future homeless pets, fixing a pet is good for the pet. Here are the frequently asked questions. 

How is spaying or neutering good for a pet? The health and behavior benefits are clear. On average, altered cats live 3-5 years longer and altered dogs live 1-3 years longer with improved health, less fights, and reduced roaming. If you have more than one pet in your household, all the pets will generally get along better if they are fixed.

Spaying females prior to their first heat cycle, which usually occurs around 5-6 months old, nearly eliminates the risk of mammary tumors and totally prevents uterine infections and uterine cancer. These serious health risks increase with each heat cycle.

Neutering males prevents 99% of reproductive system diseases. These benefits are greatest when the procedure is done on youngsters and before behaviors become habits.

How old should a kitten or puppy be to be spayed or neutered? The ideal age is usually 5-6 months. Pets 2 to 4 months old are considered pediatric patients and some veterinarians are skilled in pediatric spay and neuter but only do it when absolutely necessary, such as when the pet is being re-homed.

Don't wait! It is not rare that cats and dogs as young as 5 months can reach puberty and breed. And each heat cycle for a female substantially increases the likelihood for serious uterine and mammary problems later. As in people, younger animals have fewer complications during and following surgery, as well as fewer medical problems later. 

Don’t pets gain weight after being fixed? Pets only gain weight when they eat more calories than they burn. If they burn a lot of calories because they’re “keyed-up” by sexual hormones, their activity level may relax a bit after being fixed and reduce their calorie burn rate. If that happens, their calorie intake should be reduced accordingly.

Should I let my cat/dog have a litter before she is spayed? There’s no reason for a female cat or dog to have even one litter unless you are a responsible, professional breeder. Having a litter will increase the likelihood that she will develop mammary cancer.

Adequate care for just one litter of kittens or puppies includes feeding, worming and first vaccinations and proper care can cost hundreds of dollars. You should be prepared to handle possible complications with the births and additional medical expenses if everything doesn't happen perfectly.

Even if you can find homes for your little darling’s offspring, you can’t guarantee that all of them will have good life-long homes. Statistically, 90% of them won’t. People’s situations and priorities change, which is why shelters and rescues are almost always full and why so many former pets, both purebred and mixed breeds, are abandoned or killed.

How long after having a litter should my female be spayed? Kittens should be removed from their mother at 5 weeks and puppies at 6 weeks. With no chance of nursing, the mother’s mammary system will begin to shrink back to normal, making the surgery and her recovery easier. Ideally she can and should be spayed 2 weeks after the kittens or pups are weaned. BUT . . .

Mother cats or dogs can become pregnant while nursing! So because of the risk of pregnancy, it is important to keep a nursing mother away from adult males. And even after surgery for at least 2 weeks, a male trying to mate her can do serious damage to the surgery resulting in the female's death, so she should be protected from males. 

Can a female be spayed while in heat? Yes, but the pet will probably be more uncomfortable while recovering. There is an added cost because more time is required to deal with the inflamed tissue, but it can and should be done if there is a risk of another pregnancy. Once cats are in heat in spring, they generally stay in heat until they conceive, so don’t wait for her heat to end before spaying. In a controlled environment, you may be able to wait a few of weeks after a dog’s heat ends before spaying and it will be an easier surgery and easier on her.

Will fixing my male fix his undesirable behavior? It is most effective to neuter males before they start such behaviors, but may still help later. The urges to spray, roam, hump and fight are associated with being keyed up sexually beginning at puberty around 4-6 months old. It usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the hormones to subside after neutering.

Won't it hurt? 
Your pet will be unconscious during the procedure and won't feel a thing. Most veterinarians also provide comfort medications for the time before and after surgery. Any discomfort your pet may feel for a few days after surgery is greatly outweighed by the benefits. Most pets feel back to normal within 2-3 days which is why you have to limit their activity for a couple of weeks as they heal.
 Spay & Neuter for a Brighter Future