Pediatric Spay/Neuter This page last updated June 27, 2014
History of Pediatric Spay /
from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA)
"Lowering the number of stray dogs and cats is a high priority for anyone who cares. The AVMA is on record as endorsing early age spay/neuter.
As president of the AVMA, I feel it is unconscionable not to use early spay/neuter since it is safe and very very effective in achieving our goals."
-Dr Sherbyn Ostrich, President, AVMA, 1996
Dr Leo Lieberman, while president of the Connecticut Vet Medical Assn, started doing pediatric spay/nueter in 1970.
Research shows that other vets had been performing early spay/neuter for at least 20 years before him. Source: AHA
|Pediatric Spay/Neuter is Endorsed By:|
Early Age Neutering:
Perfect for Every Practice
Pictures of Pediatric Spay/Neuter
Pediatric Spay/Neuter Veterinary Journals
*excellent referral to many vet articles regarding s/n
Marci Hess, excellent pdf, a must read
Early Sterilization Program
Illinois Vet Bulletin
Dog Owners Guide
Early Spay/Neuter Many Years in the Making
Ealy Spay/Neuter in the Cat, Winn Feline Foundation
Early Sterilization in Dogs and Cats
View Pictures of Pediatric Neuter
Breeder Concerns Addressed (pups 1 hr after surgery)
More Veterinary Journals
The Effect of Prepubertal Castration on the Penile Urethra of the Cat - JAVMA Vol 160, No 2, Jan 1972, Herron
Longterm coutcome of ganadectomy performed at an early age or traditional age in cats - JAVMA Vol 217, No 11, Dec 2000, Howe, Boothe, Slater, Hobson, Fossum
Implications of Early Neutering in the Dog & Cat, Seminars in Vet Med & Surgery, Vol 10, No 1, Feb 95, Bloomberg & Stubbs, University of Florida
Gonadectomy in immature dogs: Effects on skeletal, physical, and behavioral development - JAVMA Vol 198, No 7, April 91, Salmeria & Bloomberg
Columbus Academy of Veterinary Medicine
AVMA-American Veterinary Medical Assoc
HSUS, Humane Society of the US
The Ohio State University
Cat Fanciers Association
Texas A & M
College of Vet Med, Univ of Minnesota
Knox County Humane Society
Massachusetts Soc for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
American Humane Association
Doris Day Animal League
AVAR (Assoc of Vets for Animal Rights)
The American Animal Hospital Assn
I have always been a huge advocate for spaying and neutering all pets. I spend a lot of time educating my clients about the necessity of sterilization for a long and healthy life for their companion animals. Unfortunately, at least 6-10 clients/year at my hospital, have the misfortune of discovering their dog was "accidentally" bred. This usually occurs because the owner did not schedule the spay/neuter before their dog reached sexual maturity (5-9 months). This is always so frustrating to me and to the owner. I have researched prepubetal sterilization for over 2 years and have been eager to begin practicing the procedure. When Mirna Bowman, one of the directors of the Columbus Dog Connection, approached me about performing early sterilizations for their organization, I was very excited!! CDC was the perfect place to start. CDC (and myself) feel very strongly about not contributing to the over population problem that has made rescue organizations, such as CDC, necessary. What better solution than not adopting out any dogs that weren't fixed! It makes perfect sense. I have been amazed at how much easier the surgery itself really is--it literally takes half of the normal surgery time, the spay incision is half the normal length, and the dogs recover in less than half the normal time. The anesthetic protocol is extremely safe. There are only two hazards, both of which are easily avoided. 1). hypoglycemia (low blood sugar): we do not fast the young dogs for the normal 12 hours before surgery; instead, they are only fasted four hours before surgery. We feed them as soon as they are standing after surgery. 2). hypothermia ( low body temperature): the puppies have a warm towel underneath them during surgery and are immediately placed on heating pads post-operatively. I have had no complications after performing this service for the CDC for over a year. I encourage all veterinarians to try this procedure. The surgery is so much easier than an adult dog or even a six month old. I would be more than happy to discuss my anesthetic protocol or answer any other questions.
|The puppies were spayed at 9 weeks old. They came home the following day with only three stitches and their incision was approximately 1 inch long. One would never have known that they just had major surgery. They were playing, rolling, and tumbling with each other the very day that they came home. They had no decrease in appetite, nor did they sleep for hours due to the affect of anesthetic. Within three days, you could see that their incision was healing. They had no redness, no swelling. They never once showed signs of the stitches "pulling". When the stitches were removed, it took only two snips of the scissors and the stitches were out. The puppies didn't even notice this. In comparison, I had an older female spayed and she was about 5-6 years old. She had approximately twenty stitches and an incision about three inches long. When she came home the following day, she had no appetite, she was very tired. She had major redness and swelling. She needed 14 days to heal before the stitches could be removed. On top of this, she had two other incisions in her belly to remove mammary tumors because her previous guardians, didn't care enough to spay her at an early age.|
The reasons for spaying and neutering are compelling. Overpopulation and the resulting mass euthanasia and neglect. It avoids heat cycles, unwelcome visitors fighting on the lawn, accidental pregnancies, unwanted puppies and kittens, inconvenience and expense.
Males and their owners are spared roaming and fighting, and the resulting injuries, spread of disease, and expenses. In our area, 80% of the dogs killed by cars and 80% of the cases with feline aids are unneutered males.
Better-behaved pets - Neutered pets rarely spray or mark, roam and fight. 85% of bites involve unneutered dogs.
Healthier pets - Neutered males don't have testicular cancer or the prostate problems common in intact dogs. Females spayed before their first heat cycle have 96.4% less breast cancer, a common cause of death. They have no risk of uterine infection, or the many complications associated with pregnancy, whelping or raising a litter.
But why spay and neuter the babies?
It's safer. Our mortality rate is lower. I've performed over 800 procedures with only one loss. Complications occur less often. Most compelling, in a study done by veterinary students, (completely inexperienced surgeons), their death and complication rates were lower. It's easier on the pet - anesthesia time is shorter and recovery takes only a few hours.
It completely eliminates the possibility of accidental litters. We daily hear the infamous "I didn't know she'd go in heat so soon," and "she just got out for a few minutes." The list is endless. My personal favorite is "She can't be pregnant, I chained her up when she was in heat."
It completely eliminates the possibility of intentional breeding by well meaning, but ignorant owners. The old "so the kids can have the experience", "just one litter," "we can make a little money," or "I found her a good home" that turns out to be a back yard puppy mill.
Breeders can avoid having their names show up on poor quality stock and help control competition by backyard breeders. The bottom line is fewer unwanted pets, and fewer ill-bred animals filling up homes so that others go without.
Dr Tracy Land
No "Cons" to Pediatric Spay/Neuter
As far as I'm concerned, there are no "cons" to early
spay/neuter. The younger ones are up and playing the same day. No matter how good the s/n contract, you're still going to have
people who will give you a hard time, saying they don't have time or never
answer the phone or move away. Spay/neuter
"There is no up-to-date data on the problems of pediatric spay/neutering because there ARE NO
I for one believe that all animals should be spayed/neutered before purchase or adoption unless they are going to a reputable breeder. NO EXCEPTIONS. - If the animal is old enough to be purchased/adopted it is old enough to be spayed/neutered.
Current research has proven that all of the "old" (which is exactly what they are... old) concerns and myths regarding early spay/neutering are false. I defy anyone to provide CURRENT research from reputable individuals or groups that support any of the old myths regarding problems associated with early spay/neutering. Whether they are physical or mental in nature...
The following is a list of: Controlled Studies, Personal Experiences and Personal Opinions. Most of them from experts in the field. It's a lot of reading but I'll tell you up front... they all say the same thing. There is no logical reason NOT to spay/neuter at an early age......... even as early as 6 weeks old.
During my own research of this topic... the only negative information that I could find against early spay/neuter was dated at least 6 years ago or longer. Times are changing and people need to move forward. Considering the massive overpopulation of unwanted animals in this country... mandatory early spay/neuter before adoption/purchase is one of our greatest hopes for success in reducing this number. We already know that we can't count on John Q Public to do it himself... he has proven that over and over again. So the burden falls on the Breeders, the Pet Stores and the Animal Shelter/Rescue organizations. I'm sorry; it's not my fault! But if you won't do it, trust me, it won't get done... That, unfortunately, is a proven fact. " Sincerely, Amber Koeller
Pediatric spay/neuter is safe and
effective when anesthetic and surgical guidelines are followed.
theorized concerns such as the potential for stunted growth, obesity,
perivulvar dermatitis vaginitis,
urinary incontinence, behavioral changes, impaired immunocompetence, and
urethral obstruction in male
cats for early age neutering (8 weeks) are unfounded. In fact,
benefits of pediatric spay/neuter surgery include, less bleeding, less
stitching, less time required for surgery, fewer drugs required, quicker
zero complications, less fasting time, and less healing time.
Question: What about this Golden Retriever Study?
Response from Dr Tracy Land
Attached is the best over all resource I've come across for this & all the other studies that keep popping up.
Bottom line on all this research - some isn't very good, too few subjects to be valid, not reproducible. But even if it is, look at the over all result. UGA study had over 80 thousand animals. Spayed & neutered animals live longer, stay in their homes longer. So even if we accept the studies, and there is a small increase in some uncommon cancers, the benefits still far outweigh any risk. Common things, like breast cancer and euthanasia for behavioral problems are huge. And again, if we view over population & mass killing as a disease, spay/neuter is the cure. In the 70's, we were killing over 20 million a year in our shelters, now down to around 4 - because of spay/neuter. Some areas have achieved no kill, which I previously thought impossible. And those areas have low cost & pediatric S/N, & NBA.
Full Article http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0055937
Abstract In contrast to European countries, the overwhelming majority of dogs in the U.S. are neutered (including spaying), usually done before one year of age. Given the importance of gonadal hormones in growth and development, this cultural contrast inviteResponse from Dr Tracy Lands an analysis of the multiple organ systems that may be adversely affected by neutering. Using a single breed-specific dataset, the objective was to examine the variables of gender and age at the time of neutering versus leaving dogs gonadally intact, on all diseases occurring with sufficient frequency for statistical analyses. Given its popularity and vulnerability to various cancers and joint disorders, the Golden Retriever was chosen for this study. Veterinary hospital records of 759 client-owned, intact and neutered female and male dogs, 1–8 years old, were examined for diagnoses of hip dysplasia (HD), cranial cruciate ligament tear (CCL), lymphosarcoma (LSA), hemangiosarcoma (HSA), and mast cell tumor (MCT). Patients were classified as intact, or neutered early (<12 mo) or late (≥12 mo). Statistical analyses involved survival analyses and incidence rate comparisons. Outcomes at the 5 percent level of significance are reported. Of early-neutered males, 10 percent were diagnosed with HD, double the occurrence in intact males. There were no cases of CCL diagnosed in intact males or females, but in early-neutered males and females the occurrences were 5 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Almost 10 percent of early-neutered males were diagnosed with LSA, 3 times more than intact males. The percentage of HSA cases in late-neutered females (about 8 percent) was 4 times more than intact and early-neutered females. There were no cases of MCT in intact females, but the occurrence was nearly 6 percent in late-neutered females. The results have health implications for Golden Retriever companion and service dogs, and for oncologists using dogs as models of cancers that occur in humans.
Response from Dr Tracy Land
There's been a lot of discussion about this study on the list serve for the Shelter Veterinarians Association.
Below I've copies what I think is the best response, coming from folks smarter than me about reviewing scientific articles.
BCS = Body Condition Score, a measure of lean versus chubby, malnourished versus obese, etc
"I spent some time in a discussion with veterinarians in the shelter medicine department here at the University of Florida about this particular article.
Normally discussion of limitations of the data and their conclusions
is included; however, limitations are not discussed in the paper. One
Golden Retrievers, a very popular breed, are predisposed to multiple
diseases studied in this article. Any discussion of the limitation of
BCS was stated as not being found in every record included in this
study, but statistics were calculated and found to show no significant
Also of interest is that the only disease shown to have a significant
difference for BOTH genders was cranial cruciate ligament disease.
Perhaps if hormones were involved the gender difference truly is
important to the pathophysiology of hip dysplasia (males), lymphosarcoma
(males), hemangiosarcoma (females) and mast cell tumors (females). I
find this information difficult to draw finite
While bias was not disclosed in this study, some of the comments lead
me to believe there is some present. For example, during the discussion
All in all this was a very interesting read, and while we cannot say
there is NO link between these diseases and neutering, we can say there
is no clear nor
Emily Swiniarski, DVM Shelter Medicine Intern
Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program University of
Florida College of Veterinary Medicine
Comment from Breeder March 2011
As for spay/neuter prior to 8 weeks of age - absolutely not ! That is the worst thing you can do for the future of the dog. Please read:
www.caninesports.com/SpayNeuter.html Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVP
Response from Dr Tracy Land
A top vet in the Association of Shelter Vets wrote an excellent response to this shortly after it first came out.
Rebuttal from Lisa Howe, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, Associate Professor, Small Animal Surgery, Texas A & M
Comment from breeder, January 2009
A study on increased risk of osteosarcoma in Pediatric s/n of dogs - this study focused on rottweilers, because that breed has a sky high rate of osteo, but since doggie DNA is the same, we could conclude that the rate of increased risk, but not the actual rate of occurrence would be the same.
Quote from the Dalmatian Club of America - Study now appearing on website states
For physiological and anatomical considerations that are logically and medically sound, the development of the os penis is incomplete until about 12 months of age in males. Castration prior to this age impedes the development of the os penis, and the resulting immature, small os penis size may contribute to the development of clinically relevant obstructive urinary stone disease in these animals. This subgroup analysis would be very important to conduct, if possible, from the survey results as it may support the recommendation to breeders, owners and others to delay male Dalmatian castration to one year of age. "
Response from Dr Tracy Land
Castration prior to this age impedes the development of the os penis, and the resulting immature, small os penis size may contribute to the development of clinically relevant obstructive urinary stone disease in these animals.
That "may" is pretty telling. I can give you a stack of scientific studies like a phone book showing no problems. So the questions is do they have even one study to support their supposition? If they did, wouldn't they quote it instead of saying "may" - which also means "maybe not". Where is the study?
And where is the logic? Doesn't intuitively make sense to me that a smaller bone would cause more of a problem? If the theory is that the bone causes the stones to block, wouldn't a smaller bone be a good thing? Actually, I don't think it's the bone that causes the blockage at all, but soft tissue swelling, though I'd have to consult a urologist to confirm that. Growth plates close at maturity, which stops the growth of the bone. Dalmatian size dog will close from ten to sixteen months in most cases. So if we neuter at 6, he's still not closed. Again - where is the logic (or study) that says six months is any better than six weeks?
Seems to me another case of someone reaching to support a position that isn't backed up by the science.
Tracy Land, DVM
Breeder, November 2007
We do not do pediatric S/N because of the increased risk of osteosarcoma in large breeds.
Comment from Dalmatian Rescuer
Dalmatians have a unique uric acid metabolism, with high levels of uric acid excretion in their urine, which can make kidney and bladder stone formation a possibility.
Response from Dr Tracy Land
Dals do indeed have that problem. The penis is indeed smaller in dogs castrated early - BUT - not the urethra, the difference is that the erectile tissue in the penis (around the urethra) does not develop. The thought process is logical, but basically flawed in that regard. The studies on cats are 30 years old, going way back to research on the old blocked kitty problem. I believe University of Florida repeated the study on dogs fifteen years ago
Comment, from a Weimaraner rescue person
99% of pediatric spays have incontinence
Response from Dr Tracy Land
Incontinence - If 99% of early spays were incontinent, we'd have stopped long ago - that's just absurd. One study showed a 3% increase in the risk of incontinence if female dogs spayed prior to 3 months, though that finding has not been the case in several other studies. The significance of a possible 3% increase in a treatable problem pales in comparison to six million dead annually due to overpopulation. I personally have done thousands of pediatric spays, and have NEVER ONCE had one of my pups come back incontinent. I do frequently treat incontinence in my outpatient clinic, and without exception, every single patient was spayed at or after six months, or not at all. Who ever is saying that just has absolutely no clue what they're talking about.
Comment, from Weimaraner Rescue
We also prefer that they are developed hormonally and structurally to their best advantage.
Response from Dr Tracy Land
from person who adopted rescue dog that was spayed at 8wks
She has too much skin around her pee pee because the early surgery stopped her maturation of her vaginal area. This causes the skin around it to keep it covered, therefore keeping it moist. This can lead to bladder infections and staph, per my vet at XXX (Columbus Ohio Area Vetl Hospital).
There is a host of other things that could come from this. I have also been told that a female should be at least six months of age before spaying. When I took her to this vet at an earlier date, the Dr that saw her said that they don't do spaying at 8 weeks. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. I don't understand why this was done at such an early age. I would have taken her to be spayed when she was six months.
Response from Dr Tracy Land
I can tell you that the problem being described is usually seen in overweight dogs, and the cause is the obesity, not the age at spay. The cases I have seen have, with one exception, always been overweight. One was just primary anatomical problem. I've spayed a lot of puppies, (thousands) and never seen it as a problem in one of those. Only those spayed at six months or later, that were too chubby. Puppies spayed prior to six months usually have no significant difference in the size of the vulva than those spayed at six months. This is another classic and tragic example of a vet who hasn't done his/her homework on pediatric spay/neuter, and has no experience in the area, unjustly criticizing something they don't understand. Research, tons of it, have never mentioned this a problem finding.
Tracy Land, DVM
-sent to me
by a breeder after we began discussing pediatric spay/neuter.
Here again, maybe for most breeds, but NOT shihtzus ! They have tiny noses, with tiny openings that don't totally open up until they are about 6 months old....so it is extremely dangerous for THIS breed especially to have pediatric s/n. I HAVE read up on it, and I have also called and talked to 22 vets, including Michigan state and Purdue!
They said this is NOT necessary, good LORD girl, a 7 week old pup is not going to get bred, so it is ONLY COMMON SENSE, to wait a bit! Like I said, 4 months is adequate....that is how I feel, and its wrong and cruel to spay or neuter at 6-7 weeks old for a snub nosed dog....ANY snub nose dog.
Sherry, breeder in Michigan
Response from Dr Tracy Land
Some special considerations have to be given to short-nosed breeds during anesthesia, regardless of their age or size. That said, it just isn't logical to say that they are at any greater risk at 7 weeks or 7 months or 7 years.
I've done hundreds of short nosed puppies, of various breeds, including many Shih Tzu's over the years and never had a problem. I have a Japanese Chin breeder, and a King Charles breeder that regularly bring me their (very expensive) pups to alter before sale. Can't get much
smaller and shorter nosed. No problem. Have the vets allegedly advising against pediatric spay/neuter actually done the procedures?
Or are they offering an opinion based on no experience? If they are having trouble, and I'm not, you've got to wonder about the surgeon
or the protocol. Properly done, there are no problems (coming from someone who has actually done hundreds).
The younger the dog, the shorter the procedure time, and therefore the shorter the anesthetic time. Logically, that would render the anesthetic risk lower in the younger animals.