Pediatric Spay and Neuter: Is it Safe?
By Melanie Rushforth, SPCA Serving Erie County Vice President of Veterinary Services
Short answer: Yes. Long answer with a background on how we got here: Keep reading.
The SPCA Serving Erie County and the Lipsey Veterinary Clinic promote and perform pediatric spay and neuter. Kittens and puppies can be safely spayed or neutered at eight weeks, or as soon as they weigh two pounds (and are healthy). The Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ (ASV) guidelines recommend that a veterinarian should make the final decision regarding the acceptance of any patient for surgery, but it is just as important to note that the opportunity to spay or neuter an individual animal prior to adoption into a home in the community may not present itself again, and it is the only way to prevent overpopulation by way of compliance post-adoption.
Pediatric spay and neuter is safe. Endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the ASV, the National Animal Care and Control Association (NACA) and in practice in clinics and shelters across the country, pediatric spay and neuter surgery and the anesthesia associated with the surgery show no adverse effects on animals both in short- or long-term studies.
There are many benefits of pediatric spay and neuter surgeries for cats and dogs. Veterinarians who perform pediatric spay and neuter report that it is an easier, faster procedure; the patients recover quickly; it provides the highest level of litter prevention; and it produces the most prevention per dollar invested. Research tells us that kittens and puppies spayed or neutered before 12 weeks of age have fewer complications from surgery than those over 12 weeks. Also, kittens and puppies rebound much faster after the surgical procedure, with less stress than pets spayed or neutered over six months of age. If you compare it to a human ailment, think back to being a kindergartener on the playground. If you were six years old and you yelled to your friends, “WATCH THIS!” and then slipped off of the monkey bars and broke an arm, you’d probably be out on the playground shortly after being casted up. If you did that now? You’re looking at lots of time off of work and you have likely convinced yourself that you can predict rain based on that nagging pain in your wrist. Little healthy animals heal quicker than big, and maybe not as healthy animals. Don’t delay!
Spaying and neutering young pets improves their lives. Spayed and neutered cats and dogs lead healthier and longer lives. Spayed females enjoy happier and longer lives without the constant stress of endless pregnancies and nursing kittens, and neutered males are calmer and no longer suffer injuries in fights over females and territory. Additionally, spaying and neutering virtually eliminates the chances for mammary and testicular tumors. Even young pets who have been in heat only once have a significantly higher risk of developing mammary cancer.
Any surgical procedure comes with risk, and the professional team at the SPCA Serving Erie County supports the concept and practice of pediatric spay/neuter in dogs and cats to reduce the number of unwanted animals of these species. Just as for other veterinary medical and surgical procedures, veterinarians should continue to use their best professional judgment based on the current scientific literature in deciding at what age spay/neuter should be performed on each individual animal. For pets not already spayed or neutered prior to adoption, the decision should be made by the pet’s owner in consultation with a veterinarian after discussing associated risks and benefits.
The SPCA’s Lipsey Veterinary Clinic offers veterinary services for cats and dogs, including spay and neuter surgeries! To see all available services, please visit LipseyClinic.com. To make an appointment, please call 716-531-4700.