Dear Homeward Bound: When should dogs be spayed or neutered?

Dear Homeward Bound,
My friend just adopted a puppy from a humane society and it wasn’t spayed yet. They gave her a special voucher to get the puppy spayed when she was six months old. I thought it was a law that animals had to be spayed or neutered before they left humane societies but she says it depends on the animal. Which one of us is right?
Dear Curious,
In some ways you both are. While there is no law, at least in Vermont, requiring that animals being adopted from humane societies be spayed and neutered before adoption, it is commonly understood as a best practice. In almost all cases, it is perfectly safe to spay and neuter kittens at about two months of age or when they weigh about two pounds. This is called pediatric spay/neuter and it has saved countless unwanted kittens from being born. Did you know that between four and six months of age a female kitten can go into heat and become pregnant?
In the case of dogs, the practice of pediatric spay/neuter has led to the knowledge that it is better for the dog’s overall health if the surgery is performed later in life. This allows more time for some of the hormones which a dog needs for proper bone and organ development to do their job and the dog is less likely to develop health problems in later life.
We’re glad your friend adopted a puppy. Help her remember to use that voucher. The humane society she adopted from should send her a reminder but better safe than sorry.
Jessica Danyow
 Homeward Bound

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