The Benefits of Early Age (Pediatric) Spay and Neuter of Dogs and Cats

Mebane Pet Clinic, an affordable spay and neuter clinic serving the Mebane and Graham, N.C. areas, is now offering an affordable pediatric spay/neuter program with prices ranging from $80 to 98 for a spay and $50 to $85 for a neuter based on size/species. In order to further encourage pediatric spay and neuter procedures, we’ve answered your questions and outlined the benefits below:

What is Spaying and Neutering?

It is well known that spaying and neutering our Mebane and Graham pets is beneficial to their health, decreases undesirable behaviors and prevents unwanted pregnancies. Spaying a female dog or cat involves surgically removing the ovaries and uterus, which prevents uterine infection (a surgical emergency), uterine cancer and ovarian cancer. Also, if spayed before the first heat, her chance of mammary (breast) cancer is reduced dramatically, as each heat cycle increases the chance of mammary cancer by several percentage points. Neutering (castrating) a male dog or cat involves the surgical removal of both testicles and prevents testicular cancer, prostate infections and benign prostatic hyperplasia (which can render dogs unable to normally urinate or defecate). Neutering also eliminates the strong “tomcat” odor from cat urine and decreases roaming behavior in both cats and dogs.

Why Pediatric?

The recommended age for spay and neuter has changed significantly over the past 50 years. Collective evidence over the past few decades has led most veterinary schools to teach and encourage early age (“pediatric”) spay and neuter procedures. These procedures are also endorsed by the major veterinary associations. Pediatric spay and neuter is generally defined as spaying or neutering before the age of four or five months. Pediatric spay/neuter procedures are faster, easier, have fewer complications and less discomfort and the patients heal faster than adult animals. At this age, the incisions can be smaller because the uterus and testicles are immature. Immature reproductive organs are smaller, have less blood supply and less fat packed around them. Thus, the procedure can be performed in less time with fewer materials needed than in adult animals. Young patients tolerate appropriate anesthesia protocols very well and tend to recover more quickly from anesthesia than adults. Since their incisions are smaller and their tissues are less developed and vascular, these patients experience less discomfort and tend to heal very rapidly.

Are There Side-Effects From Early Spaying and Neutering? 

The previous concerns about the long term physiological effects of early age spay and neuter have been generally dispelled over the past few decades. These concerns include obesity, stunted growth, hip dysplasia, vaginitis, feline urinary obstruction and urinary incontinence.

  • Obesity: Although removal of reproductive organs may slow metabolism, it does not directly cause obesity, and a pet’s weight can be easily managed with proper feeding and exercise.
  • Stunted growth: Early spay/neuter has no causal link to growth stunting; in fact, spaying and neutering early causes a small delay in growth plate closure, resulting in slightly longer bones. This yields a minimal increase in height, but the growth is proportionate and does not appear to cause any related health problems.
  • Hip dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a genetically predetermined laxity of the hip joint(s) and spay/neuter has no effect on its course.
  • Vaginitis: Puppy vaginitis is a vaginal infection characterized by a persistent yellowish discharge. It is is not caused by spaying, but is often treated successfully by the procedure when medication proves ineffective.
  • Urinary obstruction: Urinary obstruction of male cats was formerly believed to be more likely to occur if they were neutered at a young age, causing the diameter of the urethra to be smaller and more likely to become clogged. Studies done to measure the urethral size in male cats have shown no difference in diameter between cats neutered at 7 weeks or 7 months when compared to un-neutered males.
  • Urinary Incontinence: Incontinence in spayed female dogs occurs rarely, and studies have shown no difference in the rate of occurrence based on the age when the spay procedure was performed.


Mebane Pet Clinic:

Mebane Pet Clinic provides superior and affordable spay and neuter services to the Mebane and Graham communities. Each patient receives high quality anesthetics and pain medications, monitoring of ECG, pulse oximetry, respiration and blood pressure measurements. Each protocol is tailored for the individual patient and pets are individually monitored by a devoted veterinarian and veterinary assistant during their stay. Pets must be current on vaccinations and have a pre-anesthetic evaluation to determine if they are healthy enough for anesthesia and if they qualify for the program. Some adult pets (cats and small breeds) may qualify, so please call us at 919-304-5200 or visit our Mebane clinic for details.

By: Melina Efthimiadis, DVM


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