Pediatric spay or neuter neutering (Proceedings)


Pediatric spay or neuter neutering (Proceedings)

Aug 01, 2011

Adapted from an article originally published in Veterinary Medicine, February 2011.

Each year in the United States millions of homeless or unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized in animal shelters and humane societies. While precise numbers are difficult to obtain the Humane Society of the United States estimates that between 3 and 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year (HSUS 2006). Many factors have led to the overpopulation of dogs and cats and the solution will be multifaceted. Until safe and effective chemical or immunological sterilization is available spay neuter will be the cornerstone of any program to reduce the overpopulation thereby reducing the numbers of animals relinquished and euthanized each year.

Ovariohysterectomy and castration of pediatric dogs and cats (between 8 and 16 weeks of age) is supported by the AVMA and is becoming increasing popular especially in the shelter and high-quality high-volume spay neuter environments. The AVMA position statement says, "Resolved that the AVMA supports the concept of early (8-16 weeks) ovariohysterectomies/gonadectomies in dogs and cats, in an effort to stem the overpopulation problem in these species (AVMA 1994)." "The concept is for the benefit of animal shelter and humane society spay/neuter programs. Individual veterinarians have the right/responsibility to decide on what age they will perform the procedure." Other organizations supporting pediatric neutering include the:
     • Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA 2006)
     • British Small Animal Veterinary Association (Association 2006)
     • American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA 2010)

The most effective way to ensure that animals adopted from shelters do not reproduce is to spay or neuter them prior to adoption. In fact, the ASV Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters states that "animal shelters should require that cats and dogs who are adopted into homes be spayed or neutered (Newbury S 2010)." Voucher programs or prepaid spay neuter programs in which arrangements to have an adopted animal spayed or castrated are made at the time of adoption simply do not work. Nationally compliance rate of these programs is less than 40% (Manning AM 1992; AVMA 1997; Petsmart Charities 2010). With pre-adoption spay and castration there, obviously, is no compliance issue. In the shelter environment the authors recommend spay or neuter prior to adoption and as young as 6 weeks of age. In a practice environment for owned animals the recommendation is to establish one more appointment at the end of the puppy/kitten vaccination series. In this manner puppies and kittens are spayed or neutered prior to 5 months of age, before sexual maturity.