Saturday, February 7, 2015

Internet Myth #18: It's best to let your pet have a litter prior to spaying.

This myth is an old one and unfortunately has contributed to the very serious problem of pet overpopulation in North America. There is no evidence that having a litter is beneficial in any medical or behavioural way. Every year there are millions of pets euthanized because shelters cannot find homes for them all. To allow your pet to have a litter for the sole reason of allowing them that "special experience" is irresponsible and contributing directly to this overpopulation problem.

There have been some recent discussions in the Veterinary circles about "when is the best time to spay." Traditionally, most Veterinarians have recommended spaying at the age of around 6 months and prior to the pets first heat period. There are some medical reasons for this. For example, if the spay procedure is done before the first heat there is a markedly reduced chance of the pet developing breast cancer later in life. However, there are some recent and ongoing studies in certain breeds (ex Golden Retriever) that are making us take another look at this recommendation. It is possible that for the Golden Retriever our thinking might change. This does not mean that for all breeds it will change.
In the past few years, Humane societies and Shelters have been pushing the envelope and doing VERY young spays and neuters (ex 2-3 months). Many Veterinarians have concerns with this practice as we still don't know all of the potential ramifications of doing these surgeries at such a young age. We may find in a few years that we are dealing with a whole generation of new problems because of this practice. As an example, one concern is Urinary incontinence in the older female pet by having a very young spay. Estrogen is an important hormone for the sphincter muscle of the bladder and sometimes an early spay can contribute to its becoming an issue later in life.

Knowledge in Veterinary Medicine is continuously in flux and our goal is to always do what is best for our patients. Rest assured that as new information comes in we will be on top of it for you in order to help guide you with the latest "best practices" recommendations

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