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Our Sarasota Veterinarian Answers Your Top 6 Spay and Neuter FAQs

#1: What do the terms "spay" and "neuter" mean?

Spaying and neutering are two surgical procedures that prevent dogs and cats from reproducing. Spaying is the removal of a female animal’s ovaries and uterus; neutering is the surgical removal of a male animal’s testes. These two surgical procedures are considered routine and an important part of pet wellness care.

#2: How are spaying and neutering good for a pet and the pet owner?

Spaying and neutering are good for both pets and pet owners. Spaying a female before her first heat reduces the risk for breast cancer, which is fatal for most dogs and cats. Spaying also helps to prevent uterine infections and will improve a female pet’s overall quality of life. For male pets, neutering helps direct a male’s attention on his family, rather than finding a mate. Unneutered males will stop at nothing to find their mates, which includes spraying to mark territory, aggressive behavior towards other animals and constant escape attempts. Neutering males also eliminates the risk for testicular cancer.

#3: How is spaying and neutering good for the community?

Spaying and neutering pets helps to reduce the unwanted animal population. Sadly, millions of animals currently live in overcrowded animal shelters across the country. By spaying or neutering your pet, you help prevent an increase in the animal population. Additionally, you can help encourage other pet owners to adopt their pets through an animal shelter.

#4: How old does my dog or cat have to be in order to be spayed or neutered? 

Spay and neuter surgery delivers the most health benefits for a pet when one of these surgeries is performed before the pet reaches sexual maturity. Female pets can reproduce as early as five or six months of age. If you have recently adopted a puppy or kitten, we recommend that you schedule your pet’s surgery no later than six months of age.

#5: My dog/cat just had a litter; can I still get her fixed?

Yes, you can still spay a dog or cat after she has a litter. The spaying should be done shortly after the dog or cat weans her litter, usually within eight weeks of the litter’s delivery. Talk to our veterinarian to learn more.

#6: Will my pet become overweight and lazy if she/he is spayed/neutered?

No. While you may notice subtle changes in your male pet’s behavior – for example, being less aggressive around strangers or other animals – this does not mean that your pet has become lazy. Pets gain weight when they are overfed and under-exercised. If you are concerned about your pet’s weight, talk to our veterinarian for dietary and exercise recommendations.