Early spaying and neutering (sterilizing pets 8 to 14 weeks of age) has been practiced in North America for 25 years. Altering pets between 5 and 7 months of age was established by tradition rather than for any specific medical reason. Years ago, when safe pediatric anesthetic techniques were not available, waiting until a patient was older increased the safety of surgery. But we no longer need to delay altering for this reason.
Myths Laid to Rest
Over the years, the safety of early altering has been questioned, mainly by vets who may be unfamiliar with the surgical and anesthetic techniques required for pediatric patients. As well, concerns that early altering could increase the incidence of feline lower urinary tract disease, could affect skeletal development, and affect behavior have been voiced. These concerns have largely been laid to rest by many studies, and early altering has become more widespread and available. A study recently published by researchers at the University of Florida found no significant differences in the physical and behavioral characteristics of cats altered at 7 weeks of age compared to those altered at 7 months of age.
Earlier = Easier on Your Pet
Recent scientific research shows evidence that a younger puppy or kitten does better with the anesthesia and the surgical process. They typically have faster recoveries than pets spayed or neutered when they are older. And for female pets, spaying before she has a first litter or heat cycle is usually a simpler procedure. The only difference in sterilizing younger pets is that they may need different anesthetics and are more prone to hypothermia
Spay/Neuter information courtesy of Hidden Valley Animal Clinic, McMurray PA