When Should I Neuter My Dog in Ukiah, CA?

Dog neutering reduces the risks of certain cancers and health issues, including testicular cancer, and the development of osteoarthritis and joint problems later in life. It also helps reduce canine overpopulation, the urge to roam can increase the lifespan of your dog and keeps pets and people in the Ukiah, CA area safe. The question many pet owners have is when is the right time to neuter their dog. The answer is that it depends upon the breed, and recommendations regarding when to neuter vary.

Dog Neuter in Ukiah, CA

Why Should I Neuter My Dog?

A neuter is the surgical removal of a male dog’s testicles so that he cannot impregnate a female. The decision to neuter your dog is an important decision, and unless you intend to breed your pet, there are many reasons why neutering is recommended. These reasons include:

  • Reduction in pet homelessness
  • Reduction in urine marking
  • Increase in life-span; unneutered dogs tend to roam, and risk injury or getting hit by cars
  • Reduced urge to roam
  • Reduction in unwanted pets
  • Improved behavior; neutering can reduce aggressive tendencies triggered by testosterone
  • Reduced risk of testicular/prostate cancers
  • Cost-effective; many communities charge extra for unneutered dog licenses

There has been discussion among veterinarians in the Ukiah, CA area and beyond about when to spay and neuter dogs. Animal shelters and rescue groups have recommended early-age (under six months or younger) spaying and neutering in dogs to reduce the number of unwanted litters.

Some groups propose that spaying and neutering at a younger age reduce surgery time, and results in fewer post-operative complications than in older pets. However, recent recommendations have changed, and several studies suggest that there are benefits to waiting until your dog is a bit older to be spayed or neutered, especially if your dog is a large or giant breed dog.

We do know that spaying and neutering reduce the risks of certain cancers and health issues, including mammary cancer, testicular cancer, and the development of osteoarthritis and joint problems later in life. And studies show that depending upon the breed, the recommendations regarding when to neuter vary.

When to Neuter Your Dog in Ukiah, CA Depends on Size and Breed

According to AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association), recommendations as to when to neuter your dog based are breed and size:

  • Small-breed dogs (under 45 pounds when adults) are recommended to be neutered at six months of age.
  • Large-breed dogs and Giant breeds (over 45 pounds when adults) should be neutered after they stop growing, between 9 and 15 months of age.

Your veterinarian in Ukiah, CA can help narrow down the time frame when to neuter your dog depending on your dog’s breed and lifestyle.

As mentioned above, small breed dogs are recommended to be neutered at six months of age, medium, large and giant breeds between 9 and 15 months. Small dogs don’t have as many orthopedic issues as larger dogs, so it’s fine to neuter them on the younger side at 6-12 months of age. For large dogs that are very prone to orthopedic injury/diseases, it’s suggested waiting to neuter from 9-18 months of age. Young dogs build muscle as their growth plates close, and in dogs where the musculoskeletal system is properly matured, the chance of certain orthopedic issues occurring later in life decrease, especially in large breeds.

There is also some evidence that certain cancers may be less likely to develop if dogs are allowed to reach full sexual maturity. Male dogs that are left intact through adulthood and into their senior years are more likely to develop perianal tumors, prostate disease, and testicular tumors.

Many veterinarians suggest waiting until at least six months to neuter your dog, and more likely older for larger dogs. There are several musculoskeletal benefits to neutering larger dogs later rather than sooner, but this doesn’t apply to smaller dogs or lap dogs. Large dogs neutered before six months of age have been shown to experience a higher risk of orthopedic problems and certain cancers later in life, but this risk is statistically reduced if large dogs are neutered at or after 12 months. Your veterinarian can help you determine a good time-line for neutering your dog.

What is the Right Age to Neuter My Dog?

It’s helpful to know when your dog has matured enough to be neutered. Female dogs are considered sexually mature when they come into their first heat cycle. When a female dog is in heat, you may notice dripping blood for up to two weeks, accompanied by possible moodiness, and increased interest from male dogs. Most female dogs, regardless of breed, go into their first heat between 9-10 months of age or older, depending on the breed and the dog. Occasionally, small breeds may go into heat at six months of age, and sometimes larger breed dogs don’t go into heat until 12 months or older.

When male dogs enter maturity, both testicles should have descended and should be present. If your dog is six months or older, and one or both testicles are not present, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. It may be that your dog is what is called a “cryptorchid,” where one or both of the testicles have not descended, and are still located in the abdomen. Neuter surgery on a cryptorchid male becomes more of a spay-like procedure, and the recovery is much like that of a spayed female.

Knowing when to neuter your male dog depends on your goals as a pet owner. Sexually mature male dogs may display such behaviors as urinary marking, behavioral domination of other pets and family members, destructive behaviors, aggression, and the urge to wander and look for a mate.

Deciding when to neuter your dog depends on many things such as your goals for your dog, and other factors. If you have questions about spaying and neutering your dog in Ukiah, CA, please call Mendocino Animal Hospital at (707) 462-8833 or use our online form.

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About Mendocino Animal Hospital

At Mendocino Animal Hospital, we believe in fostering the human-animal bond with excellent veterinary medicine. Our full-service veterinary practice operates in Ukiah, CA with a team of skilled veterinarians and a passionate, talented support staff who make you feel like a part of the family.

As an AAHA-accredited animal hospital, every service and aspect of our practice meets AAHA’s Standards of Excellence. No matter what your pet comes in for, they’ll receive only the best in care, compassion, and service.