Both male and female cats and dogs should be fixed by 6 months of age. There are many health reasons for spaying or neutering your pet at an early age, especially for females before they reach sexual maturity and have their first heat (cats may experience their first heat as young as 4 months old; dogs may as young as 6 months old) . Currently, some clinics are performing surgeries on animals as young as 8 weeks of age. Although the surgery is best performed when the pet is young, it can be performed at any age.
The operation itself is a fairly simple, safe and painless procedure that is now considered preventive surgery because of all the behavioral and health benefits that result. It is performed once in a pet's lifetime, and should be considered an investment in your pet's life, since it prevents unwanted litters, complex behavioral problems and a number of serious diseases.
When done on a young animal, spaying or neutering entails at most 1 or 2 days of discomfort. You will be given instructions about withholding food and water to the pet prior to the surgery. Most veterinarians will give a thorough physical, which may include a blood test and urinalysis, prior to the anesthesia. This is necessary to make sure there aren't any underlying medical problems that would put the patient at risk during the surgery.
Modern anesthetics are safe and painless, and pets recuperate quickly from surgery. After the operation, the animal will be monitored. Most animals that are dropped off in the morning for surgery can go home in the afternoon to rest and recuperate, but some vets may choose to keep your pet overnight for observation. After you bring your pet home, carefully follow the care instructions your vet gives you. Your pet will recover completely in a short while, usually within days.
Spaying, or ovariohysterectomy, is the surgical removal of the female animal's reproductive organs, including the ovaries, oviducts, uterine horns, uterus and fallopian tubes. This eliminates the production of eggs.
Spaying removes the source of production of estrogen and progesterone, the hormones responsible for stimulating and controlling heat cycles and the undesirable behavioral problems that accompany them. These hormones are linked to the development of many serious cancers and diseases. They also have other effects on the body, which over an increased amount of time can become potentially harmful.
Neutering, which is also referred to as orchectomy or castration, is the surgical removal of the male animal's reproductive glands, or testes, from the scrotum. This eliminates the source of sperm and the possibility of impregnating a female.
It also eliminates the source of production of testosterone. This hormone is responsible for the development of many common behavioral problems such as aggression and the tendency to roam. It also causes many types of cancer, tumors and other serious health complications.