We are a small foster based rescue working on the western Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. We have recently run across issues where if we try to pre-adopt, the adopter's veterinarian is recommending they not be spayed or neutered at the age we normally do it, especially for large breed dogs. This puts us in a dilemma. We also had a dog with a leg injury and the vet we used for orthopedic surgery did not want us to neuter that dog at a young age either. I am wondering if other rescues are running across this issue, as recommendations and more information seem to be shifting, especially for large breed dogs. Since animal overpopulation is a huge issue in our area but we also want to do the best thing for any individual animal, just wondering how others are handling this issue. Thanks, Rose
Here's a link to the The Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ 2016 Veterinary Medical Care Guidelines for Spay-Neuter Programs. This is what they had to say about optimum age for sterilization of shelter animals: "Neutering prior to sexual maturity is strongly recommended to prevent the birth of unintended litters, which commonly occurs when surgery is delayed. In situations involving pediatric and adult animals that will be placed for adoption, neutering is best performed prior to adoption (as early as 6 weeks of age) to ensure compliance. Neutering prior to adoption is likely to improve the odds that adopted animals will be retained in their new homes because being sexually intact has been identified as the leading risk factor for owner relinquishment of cats and dogs."
This page on the AVMA's website also has some great links for other data-based resources you could share with both veterinarians and members of the public to support sterilizing shelter animals before they leave for adoption and before 5 months of age.
And finally, this Maddie's Fund Webcast is a great resource that tackles the following topic: "In the face of confusing and often conflicting reports in the veterinary literature, how can veterinarians and animal shelters understand the pros and cons of spay/neuter and determine the most appropriate age to perform these surgeries in male and female dogs and cats?"
I hope that helps!
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